“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Support the Training of Lay Leaders for a Family Apostolate in India
India’s Diocese of Tura began in 1973, with only four parishes and 40,000 members. Today, there are 45 parishes, and the Catholic population has grown exponentially.
The majority of Catholics in the Diocese of Tura belong to various indigenous minorities, the largest group being the Garo people. The Garo people are culturally very distinct from other ethnic groups in northeast India, notably in that theirs is a matriarchal society: mothers are the heads of families.
There is virtually no industry in the region, and the people live mainly on subsistence agriculture, which depends on the monsoon rains. In rural areas, there is considerable poverty, and many people have no access to formal education.
To overcome this problem, the Church in India established several residential hostels for children and young people whose home villages are so remote that they would otherwise be unable to commute to school.
Still, many children are left to their own devices. Their parents require support and rely on traveling priests and Sisters to provide a religious education. But the priests and Sisters cannot be everywhere at once. And the need for them is growing in this part of India, especially as more young people reject certain local traditions.
Two of those traditions are arranged marriages between cousins and the practice whereby, if one spouse dies, the other is remarried to a relative, in which case there is often a large age gap. The idea behind these traditions is to keep wealth and property in the family, but this respects neither the free will nor the happiness of the parties involved, which leads to conflict.
There is plenty of healing work for the Church to do. And, according to Bishop Andrew Marak of Tura, “[it] is high time to involve the laity, so that they can take on an active role in the family apostolate.” But in order to do this, lay helpers must first be trained, and Bishop Marak has established a program for this purpose. It will involve special training courses for 630 lay helpers divided into five groups.
But Bishop Marak does not have the necessary funding for this program, especially since Sunday collections have dwindled to almost nothing due to the pandemic. Many families can only contribute a handful of rice from time to time.
We have agreed to support the diocese with a contribution of $8,300, so that its families can have the support they need.
Will you join us in supporting the training of lay leaders in India?
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