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DON BOSCO RELIC ARRIVES IN MIZORAM


By Bro. Robert Faustin SDB
Guwahati, Jun. 11. For the first time, the relic of a saint arrived in Mizoram on  June 11, 2011. Twenty years after the Salesians arrived in this southern-most part of North East India, Don Bosco visits the 'Highlanders' and his own sons.
It was a red letter day in the annals of the Catholic Church and of the Salesian Congregation in Mizoram. St. John Bosco made his first visit in the form of his relics in the afternoon in this southern-most state of North East India.

Don Bosco's relic was welcomed first in Vairengte, the gateway of Mizoram, at 2:00 pm by the Parish Priest, FMA sisters and citizens of the town. The relics then proceeded to Kolasib, the first district town in the North Mizoram. With the request of the people, the relic was taken to St. Joseph the Worker Church, Kolasib at 4:00 pm. The people, both Catholics and other denominations, paid their homage to the relics of the Saint.

The next stop was in St. Thomas Church, Ramhlun-Aizawl at 8:00 pm. Bishop Stephen Rotluanga CSC, Bishop of Aizawl, spoke few words on the great saint and the faithful from all the five city parishes paid their homage to the Father and Friend of youth. At 10:00 pm, the relics left for Don Bosco, Seling where Solemn Mass and special programme will be held on Sunday, 12th June 2011.

CATHOLIC CHURCH IN MIZORAM

The History of the Catholic Church can be traced back with the arrival of Rev. Fr. Bouley CSC at Aizawl on 28th November 1925 from Chittagong and stayed on there for eight days. On 6th December 1925, he baptized two children, J.F. Laldailova, son of Thangphunga and Lalbiakthangi, daughter of Lenga, to become the first Catholics baptized in Mizoram. Even though the Catholic faith has its beginning in Mizoram way back in 1925 through the initiatives of some lay people, the official entry of the Catholic Missionaries was much later. The Bishop of Chittagong sent Rev Fr George Breen CSC assisted by Rev Bro Gilbert Boucher CSC to establish a mission station at Aizawl. They arrived at Aizawl on 15th April 1947 and made their settlement at Kulikawn. This day 15th April 1947 is therefore remembered as the official birthday of the Catholic Church in Mizoram.

As of Dec. 31, 2008, Aizawl Diocese had 35,070 baptized Catholics, 0.82 percent of the 4,234,530 people in the territory. The diocese had 23 parishes and 272 mission stations. During 2008, the diocese recorded 870 baptisms and had an additional 300 catechumens.

The Catholic Church in Mizoram is not only catering to the spiritual needs but also for the temporal needs of the people of Mizoram. The Church works to promote education, peace, social justice, social health etc. The Church makes a very significant contribution in the field of education. It runs more than thirty educational institutions in the state, three Higher Secondary, five Secondary and more than twenty Elementary schools. Besides these the Church runs dispensaries, technical schools, charity homes, social work centres, printing presses, hostels etc.

SALESIAN PRESENCE IN MIZORAM

Bishop Denzil D'Souza of Silchar responded to the request of the Salesians, inviting the Salesians to help in the mission work in the state of Mizoram. The area identified was Saiha, inhabited by the Hmars and Lawngtlai, inhabited by the Lais. Fr. Anthony Valluran was sent to Saiha in October 1991 to study the needs of the area.  He reached Saiha on 13th October 1991 together with Rev. Fr. V.A. Paul. On 24th November 1991, Holy Mass was offered for the first time in one of the existing sheds. On 19th February 1992, Msgr. Denzil D'Souza, Bishop of Silchar, blessed the school and Rev. Fr. Joseph Thelekkatt SDB (the then Provincial) officially inaugurated it.  Along with the school the Quasi parish of Saiha was created.

Lawngtlai, in the diocese of Aizawl, was established in 1998 as a parish. In 1991, Fr. Anthony Valluran reached Saiha in order to find out the possibilities of beginning a Salesian apostolate in Mizoram. As he began his stay at Saiha, he also visited Lawngtlai as there were a few Catholics there. Land donations were done during the years that he was at Saiha.  On 20th March 1994, Fr. Alexis Sanglura began the Don Bosco School at Lawngtlai.  During this time, Fr. James Puthenthara was the Parish Priest at Saiha.

On 11th November 1993, Fr. Valluran left Saiha and came to stay at Seling (40 kms away from Aizawl). A house in Seling was rented as the first residence. In February 1994, a school was started up to Upper KG. Soon, with contributions from the government and other organisations, a semi-permanent shed for the school was built in the land purchased. The Quasi parish of Seling was carved out of the two parishes of Aizawl and Chhingchhip. Now Seling is a full fledge Parish with around 15 strong sub-centres.
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