With gratitude to St. John Paul II for his legacy and inspiration in serving young people, the Diocese of Miao has dedicated its new episcopal residence to the late Pope.
During a May 24 ceremony the residence, which will also serve as offices for the diocesan curia, was blessed and dedicated by Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, apostolic nuncio to India and Nepal.
"John Paul II is a modern day saint, and an example how holiness and sanctity can be pursued even in this modern world … a life of service to the people of God without seeking for appreciation and rewards will certainly lead one to sanctity,” Bishop George Pallipparambil of Miao told CNA.
He expressed profound gratitude to the nuncio and to all the benefactors who had contributed to the successful completion of the new building.
“This new house being dedicated to St. John Paul II, who loved the youth very much, is an expression of our own bishop's loving concern for the youth,” Fr. Felix Anthony, communications and youth director of the Miao diocese, told CNA.
“Our diocese is a Church of the laity,” he said, “and our Bishop George Pallipparambil, knowing very well the role of youth for the growth of the society, has always encouraged and supported young people.”
Fr. Anthony explained that the bishop's former residence was too small to accommodate the offices of various diocesan commissions, and a larger space was thus a pertinent need for the diocese.
The diocesan youth commission and commission for women have already established their offices in the new residence, and other committees are to “follow soon,” Fr. Anthony said.
The dedication was attended by Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati, Miao's metropolitan archdiocese, as well as several other bishops, plus priests, religious, thousands of the faithful, and dignitaries from the region.
Archbishop Pennacchio lauded the efforts at spiritual and human development that are being carried out in the diocese, saying, “I am so happy to be here with you today on this important event in the history of the Diocese of Miao.”
“I am overwhelmed by the warm welcome and colourful reception I received from the time I reached at the airport till I reached this place … Your presence in large number today is an example of the strong Church here this region. I would like to congratulate Bishop George for the hard works he does for the people in this region and wish that God’s blessing be upon him, in this new Bishop’s House and all the people in this region.”
Bishop Pallipparambil commented that “though the new house looks huge in comparison to the old house, I would like to stress that the spirit of this new house will continue to be one of service and brotherhood.”
Following the blessing and inauguration, the diocese held a cultural program and a community meal for those in attendance.
Fr. Anthony said the day's joy was heightened by the inauguration of the cause of canonization of the French missionaries Nicholas Michael Krick and Augustine Etienne Bourry, the first martyrs of northeast India.
The two were killed in 1854 while on their way to Tibet, in the Somme village of Arunachal Pradesh, the Indian state where Miao is located.
Arunachal Pradesh is a remote part of India, and part of it is claimed by China; the diocese borders both China and Burma.
The area is mountainous, home to the easternmost portions of the Himalayas. Its mountainous terrain and remoteness has led to challenges of poverty, a lack of infrastructure, and underemployment.
The Diocese of Miao was established in 2005, and Bishop Paramilitary, a Salesian, is its first bishop. The diocese is home to 83,500 Catholics across an area of nearly 17,000 square miles.
The diocese's total population is roughly 500,000, with Christians – most of them Catholic – comprising some 19 percent of the population.
The largest religious group is Hindus, with large minorities of Buddhists and traditional religions, as well as small numbers of Muslims, Sikhs, and Jains.