JAI YESHU – a greeting to you all the way from Dapada
In view of the Holy season of Lent on Sunday, 26th March 2017, the Young Adult Association (YAA) of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Orlem, Malad, organized a-day-long mission exposure trip to the Sacred Heart Church – Dapada mission center in Dadra & Nagar Haveli which is tirelessly run by St Francis Xavier Missionaries in service of the Warli tribes since 1932.
On reaching Dapada, Fr. Minguel and Fr. John, briefed us on the Christian faith and lifestyle of the tribals as well as the missionary work carried out by them to share Christ and support the tribal families. From there we went on to visit the parish hostels for the tribal children that provide stay, food and education. What surprised us was the inadequate educational supplies and the hall that is their classroom by day turned to a dormitory at night. We came to a deep realization of how blessed we are to have been provided with good education and a stable living environment.
We then visited two small tribal villages and learned about their means of livelihood, queer traditions and most importantly the simple faith of the Warlis - seen in their greeting – Jai Yeshu! This makes one constantly aware of Jesus’s presence. The tribals being nature worshippers have easily accepted Christ as the centre of their lives and follow Him in every aspect whether folk, art or culture. Relishing the food cooked by the tribals, visiting their homes, listening to their stories was truly an inspirational and deeply spiritual experience - one that we will remember for a long time to come.
We continued to interact with the tribals and realised that the priests have been doing a commendable job of not only providing basic necessities but also trying to deal with social issues such as superstitions and alcoholism by teaching them Biblical virtues. Moreover, community halls are being built to provide Christian Warlis a place of worship so they need not travel significantly far to the mission center in extreme weather conditions. The sacrificial service of these priests does not end here, they have also been procuring finance to support the mission by carrying out poultry farming. We were truly overwhelmed by the work of the priests and to support them we provided monetary aid, stationary items, eatables, and toys.
One of the important purposes of the Church is to evangelize. We were privileged to see this first hand. Seeing how Jesus uses His priests and laity to spread His word and evangelize in these rural places was an eye opener. It was also a reminder that we need to count our blessings and reach out to the needy not just financially but also with our talents. We need to continually pray for our missionary priests and religious that God may grant them the grace and strength to overcome the obstacles that they face in preaching the Good News. We too need to intercede for the people in tribal areas that their faith may be strengthened.
We concluded our mission exposure trip by participating in the Eucharist celebrated by Fr. Oniel Rodrigues, our spiritual director.
- By Michelle Gonsalves, Kitty Miranda, Ezekiel D’souza and Christopher D’Cruz