Village church as an invitation to become a stronger faith community
Bishop George Pallipparampil SDB congratulated the community for staying strong in their faith for the last 25 years. He invited them to become a stronger church not in terms of building but in terms of faith and encouraged the community to keep alive the flame of faith.
By Fr. Felix Anthony
If faith is a gift of God, then a church is a gift to faith. A remote village in Arunachal Pradesh demonstrated it when a small church came up in Hetlong, a remote village in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh marking the silver jubilee of a small group of people becoming Catholics. Bishop George Pallipparambil SDB of Miao Diocese blessed the new church on 10 February 2021.
Hetlong is a humble tribal village with 30 families belonging to the Tangsa tribe. The community had their worship in a bamboo structure with tin roof for the last quarter of a century and the occasion marked the 25th year of receiving the Catholic faith, and therefore the concrete church is a symbolic expression of the strength and firmness of their faith. The guests and dignitaries from around the district were there to witness this landmark event in the history of the village.
Bishop George congratulated the community for staying strong in their faith for the last 25 years. He invited them to become a stronger church not in terms of building but in terms of faith and encouraged the community to keep alive the flame of faith to withstand the danger that the future is threatening to pose. “In the Bible we see several letters of St. Paul addressed to the Corinthians and Philippians. These communities do not exist today because they did not live according to the teachings of the faith they received. This could happen to us too if we are not fervent in the faith we celebrate today,” he cautioned.
The caution appeared to be an implicit reminder of what Saint John Bosco said: "Make frequent visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the devil will be powerless against you.” With a house for the Blessed Sacrament, now the villagers can do those visits to make the diabolic forces ineffective as Jesus himself told Saint Peter the rock on which the universal Church was founded: "Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it."
Coincidently, the new church at Hetlong is dedicated to Apostle Peter, and it is a substation under Nampong Parish of Miao Diocese, manned by the Society of the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier, the Pilar Fathers.
On the occasion, Laisam Simai, local MLA and Advisor for Tourism, Government of Arunachal Pradesh, spoke of his personal example of being faithful to the church services. “Wherever I have been, as a student and even today, I always look for the nearest church to participate in the Sunday services, for I have experienced its transformative effects on my life.” His words will be an inspiration for the youth as he is also one of the youngest MLAs of Arunachal Pradesh. Many youth and 30 children received the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion during the inaugural Eucharistic celebration.
To underline the significance of the laypeople in the Church, the new structure was inaugurated by Kothan Mossang, the village leader and one of the firsts to receive Baptism in the village. The new church will be a rallying point for the villagers of Hetlong in Arunachal.
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