Support the Diocese of Miao, India
BISHOP GEORGE Pallipparambil (Bishop George, for short) and his Diocese of Miao are based in the remote northeastern State of Arunachal Pradesh, where he has been working with tribes, who until 30 years ago, still lived away from civilization in conditions marked by extreme poverty and constant fighting. He has transformed entire communities and brought peace to the region through education programs for youth and faith-building initiatives. The growth of the Faith in his diocese has been remarkable. The diocese now boasts 32 parishes and 90,000 Catholics, where a few decades ago there was no Catholic presence at all. The Bishop has indeed a unique story to tell.
In the past 30 years, he opened more than 40 schools; built the region’s only hospital; and completed numerous clean-water projects. Bishop George also built a major church that features the tallest statue of Christ in all of Asia!
The bishop also dramatically raised the stature of women and girls, who were once traded among families in marriage barter; they now choose their own husbands and are no longer considered property of their families. Women’s emancipation has transformed tribal society.
This is how Bishop George describes the amazing story of the Church in the Diocese of Miao:
“The Diocese of Miao, erected as a Diocese in December 2005 and inaugurated in February 2006, by God’s grace has been growing in numbers and quality of life. The commitment, especially of the lay leaders and youth with the priests and religious at their side, has become a source of hope and inspiration to the people of the area.
The underground Church of yesteryear, which began with the courageous people of Borduria and the baptism of 900 people in 1979, has flowered into a garden of 90,000 believers from more than 15 tribes and tongues.
- From a humble beginning with a group of committed laymen and women, who operated fully underground at great risk and guided from outside the state by a Priest who could not visit his flock, to 32 parishes and many substations and a Catholic population of about 90,000 in Miao.
- There are 28 Diocesan Priests, 68 Religious Order Priests, and 165 women religious.
- Where there were no viable schools and illiteracy rates of over 80%, today there are 44 schools, 13 high-schools, 1 Higher Secondary and 1 Degree College. These have helped to promote the literacy rate remarkably. Women’s place in society has been transformed as women are coming into their full humanity (having been mere chattel) with equality in education and also entering the workforce and gaining economic independence.
- A minor seminary was started in 2006 as the diocese was inaugurated. Today there are 18 young men doing their initial formation; there are 13 others at various levels of formation, from philosophy to theology.
- A non-formal Vocational Training Center—where dropout girls are trained in basic literacy, tailoring and traditional weaving and wood carving for boys— rendering a yeoman service to the youth.
- The Church has built and staffs the only hospital in an area of some 17,000 square miles; it is dedicated to St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The hospital opened two years ago and infant mortality rates have declined by 80% in the area of the hospital.
- We operate in 26 Parishes with 156 substations, 156 Catechists and 2 touring Catechists.
- The Church of Miao is a Church of the Laity; there are 156 Lay Catechists. The Arunachal Pradesh Catholic Association (APCA) has units in every Parish and village.
- The Church continues to grow even now though at a slower pace than yesteryear. There are adult baptisms and child baptisms each year. We have put a halt to opening new Parishes for a while and are trying to make the substations better organized. There are at least 5 new village churches built each year.
- Women’s groups and Mothers’ Associations exist in every village and Parish. These help in empowering women and making them leaders in Society and church.
- Youth groups exist in every village and Parish. As the youth are more educated, they give quality leadership to villages. Our yearly programs help to prepare them for this.”
Bishop George continues:
“My greatest joy is to see how the Church has grown in this state and that we have a very committed and well informed laity. Today, they represent every walk of life and proudly proclaim their faith. True, by ordinary calculations, there have been and remain many difficulties and problems. But the Church that I behold today is a thousand times stronger than what I could have imagined in 1980, when along with another person I spent 18 hours of detention in the police station—it was Christmas.
“To see the happy young men and women who openly speak out not “for” the Church but “as” the Church, just gives me joy, a sense of fulfillment and maximum satisfaction. With St. Paul, I can simply say that all [the hardship] that went before is not worth counting at all.”
Today, Bishop George travels the world to raise awareness of the needs of his people and his church; these include funds for scholarships; tuition and living expenses for seminarians; vehicles for priests, religious and lay catechists and a pension fund for catechists who do their work for free for years.
Thank you for any help you can give to the dedicated Church in India. Bishop George thanks you on behalf of his faithful.