January 2017 marks the most blessed month of the Vicariate of the Regional Vicariate of West Bengal, North East India of the Discalced Carmelites of the South Kerala Province.
God granted us the first four OCD Priests from North India for our Mission Vicariate. They are Fr. Joel Sarkar OCD, Fr. Arvind Tigga OCD, Fr. Anil Tirkey OCD and Fr. Anil Kerketta OCD.
The very First Priestly Ordination was of Deacon Joel Sarkar, took place at our Mission Centre at Dhupguri, north of West Bengal through the hands of Bishop Clement Tirkey of Jalpaiguri Diocese on 20th January 2017. He is from a West Bengal Family speaking Bengali language. We do remember Rabindra Nath Tagore, the great mystic poet of India and Nobel Laureate and Mother Teresa of Calcutta who is called the “Saint of the Gutters” who lived in this State. Let us thank the Lord for this historical moment that lets us grow on a firm foundation. He hails from the Diocese of Raiganj in West Bengal.
Deacons Arvind Tigga OCD and Anil Kerketta OCD were Ordained at Saunamara Parish in the Rourkela Diocese, Odisha on 23rd January 2017 through the hands of Bishop Kishor Kumar Kujur. Fr. Arvind hails from Jaspur Diocese of Chattisgarh State. Fr. Anil Kerketta is from Rourkela Diocese, Odisha State. The fourth Priestly Ordination was of Deacon Anil Tirkey at Gaibira Parish in the Rourkela Diocese on 25th January 2017. These three Priests are from Adibasi People and speak Oram language. Yes, the Lord calls “the Shepherds after His own heart” for His people from all the peoples and nations. By the grace of God, we will have Priestly Ordinations every year from East and North East India for the growth of the Church and Our Holy Order in West Bengal and North Eastern States of India. Our Order is new to most of these States of India.
The Priestly Ordination ceremony in Odisha State is impressive. It is a grand feast of the people of the area. People both Christians and non-Christians in big number take part in it. It is like a big marriage celebration. The Deacon walks over the baskets supported by his parents or most dear ones before the ceremony of Ordination to the altar and handed over to the Bishop. It is to mean, he is taken from the ordinary society for a radically new life as minister of the Church for all. Thus, they show the loftiness and sanctity of Priestly life. After the Holy Mass, two elderly women bring him to the stage and put the priest on the lap and others wash his hands, legs, put oil on his head, comb his hair, and beautify his head. It is to mean that here after the priest is a part of all the people, loved and cared by them. What a wonder blessing of the Priest! Then the priest is crowned as a king or honoured like a leader of the people. It impresses especially the minds and hearts of the young and children and can inspire them to aspire for priesthood. People, in great numbers, dance together with banging instruments before, during and after the Mass. The Ordinations in Odisha started by 7.30 in the morning and got over by 12.30 noon. After the meals, again they continued with felicitations and dancing which would last until night. The priest is carried to his own village in his re-entry. The First Mass takes place in at a prepared place near his home, participated by the neighbouring villagers. They sing and dance for him. At a convenient time, he goes to bless the families of his village.
Rejoice with us and thank the Lord for “the beginning of this harvest” from the vocational seeds sown 13 years back and the solid and native growth of our Mission. Yes, the Mission will grow from within to greater heights and at God’s time will become an independent Province of our Holy Order.
The Calcutta Mission was opened on 6th June 1998 in the city where Mother Teresa of Calcutta worked for the poorest of the poor. It was Fr. Bernadine M. Louis OCD, then Provincial who put up the first Aspirants’ House (Seminary) Flos Carmeli Ashram at Lakurdi, Burdwan in the Asansol Diocese in 2003. We started the first batch of seminarians in a tent made of haystack. The first Priestly Ordinations from our mission have taken place after 13 long years of formation both in the Mission and Kerala. The number of Ordinations in India is on the increase in spite of all the cultural and adverse conditions of our Country. We have around 80 brothers in different stages of formation only for our Mission Vicariate from East and North East Indian States.
Our Mission Centre at Kumari, Arunachal Pradesh, which was taken up from the Diocese of Miao, a border State of India to China in 2009 got finally a beautiful Parish Church at the hard work of Fr. Jaison Kaimathuruthy, OCD, in charge of Kumari Centre. The Church was blessed on 28th January 2017 by Bishop George Palliparambil of the Diocese, inaugurated by Fr. Benjamine Elias our Provincial and dedicated to the Public by the Deputy Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh in the presence of thousands of people. It was a mega celebration day with the participation of Priests, Religious, People Catholics and non-Catholics. The church is dedicated to our Lady of Mount Carmel.