The neighboring Diocese of Dumka, also in Jharkhand state, lost five priests to COVID-19 in 10 days, according to the bishop.
“But what hurts more is what is happening all around us. There is a shortage of hospital beds. There is a shortage of medicine ... People cannot find a place in any hospital in the city, and you can imagine what is the state of the poor. They can’t even think of rushing their sick to the hospitals,” Mascarenhas said.
India’s official coronavirus death toll passed 200,000 on April 28 after 3,293 people died of COVID-19 in 24 hours.
The country, which has a population of 1.3 billion people, has recorded more than 300,000 new cases each day for the past week. Many believe that the actual infection and death rates are likely higher than the official statistics show.
Indian media have reported that at least 14 Catholic priests died of COVID-19 in India between April 20 and April 23, and five Catholic priests died in 24 hours in the western state of Gujarat on April 17.
World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic has said that higher rates of transmission could be due to a new COVID-19 variant that was discovered in India.
The death rate has been so high in some parts of India, such as Delhi, that crematoriums are running out of space.
“Jharkhand is one of the states which has the worst health structure, infrastructure, it is among the poorest in the country,” Bishop Mascarenhas said.
"At least I could take my priests, my seminarians. The poor very often must rely on their villages. They are lying in their own homes -- even if they come to the hospital, there is no place for them,” he said. “And if those who get into the hospital, there is no oxygen.”
The bishop said that although he has directly cared for those who are sick, he has not been afraid.
(Story cotinues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“I keep telling my seminarians ... we were ordained to serve and if that service can be like the Lord’s service then there is nothing like it,” he said.
More than 500 miles away in Hyderabad, Fr. Noel Maddhichetty has also been working to help those affected by the pandemic.
Maddhichetty is the director of Bosconet, a Catholic association with 500 centers across 28 states of India.
In the first wave of the pandemic, Bosconet reached 3.28 million people with some sort of support, including hot meals, weekly rations, and health kits to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
But Maddhichetty said that the organization was caught off guard by how quickly the situation deteriorated in this second wave with an acute shortage of oxygen.
"We are not capable of supplying oxygen. We don’t have an oxygen supply chain,” he told EWTN.