"(W)hereas if the Chrism Mass is held in their place, they come to know because it is always done in their language, and so they know what it is. And when it's time to have an anointing, whether it be for baptism or confirmation or another occasion, they know the sacredness of this oil."
He added that "it brings all the priests and religious to pray together with the people the whole day before the Mass, so that also has a positive catechetical influence."
That year, the Chrism Mass was the occasion for Bishop Pallipparambil to present the first translation of the entire New Testament into the Wancho language.
At the bishop's request, Father TJ Francis spent three years working with Wancho leaders in preparing the translation, which will serve the 60,000 Wancho people who live in the Longding and Tirap districts.
Fr. Francis' work "must inspire many of us to take up a similar responsibility to translate the Message of the Gospel to the language of the people we serve," Bishop Pallipparambil said at the Mass. The Miao diocese is home to more than 100 distinct tribes, many of which have their own language.
Bishop Pallipparambil told CNA that the Wancho, of whom 95 percent are Christian, now have printed in their own language only the Bible and a few prayer and hymn books.
As the language had no written form, it also lacked its own script, the bishop noted, and Fr. Francis wrote the works with Latin letters. The priest has also produced a Wancho grammar.
Despite lacking access to written Scripture until now, many of the Wancho have converted "just by hearing and seeing" the Gospel.
"Some of their children in the '80s and '90s travelled outside their area and attended Christian schools, and when they got knowledge of Christianity they helped by teaching Bible in their own language," he explained. The diocese also hold four to five-day Bible camps in which biblical stories and the catechism are explained.
Asked if the diocese hopes that the Old Testament will now be translated into Wancho, Bishop Pallipparambil affirmed "yes, we want to do it by all means at the earliest."
This article was originally published on CNA April 3, 2015.
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