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Catechist Giri Guru Babu Bags Eric Benjamin Award


By C.M. Paul
Giri Guru Babu (left) receives Eric Benjamin Award.
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Kolkata, Mar. 15. Kalimpong, 15, March 2021: Catechist Cleophas Giri, popularly known as Giri Guru Babu, received the prestigious Bishop Eric Benjamin Award 2021 from Bishop Stephen Lepcha of Darjeeling-Sikkim-Bhutan, and Patrick Sada, President of Darjeeling Diocese Catholic Association. He received the award at Mary Mother of God Church, Reli Road Kalimpong on 13, March 2021.
Named after the first Bishop of Darjeeling-Sikkim Diocese (1962 to 1994), the award is given to an outstanding catechist. It consists of a citation, shawl and cash prize. Commenting on the award received after almost 16 years of retirement, Giri quoted Roman 14:18 saying, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

Giri, hailing from Kathmandu (Nepal), left his job as a contractor to marry and settle down in Sonada. Handpicked by late Italian Salesian Fr Luigi Jellici, the first parish priest of St Theresa Parish, Sonada, a pioneer missionary of the Balasun Valley, Giri was sent for catechists' training at Gayganga in Siliguri. He joined 11 other young men for catechists training conducted by a Jesuit priest, Fr Bernard Harvey, in May 1974. Then, he worked as a catechist with Fr Jellici from January 1975. He would go with Fr Jellici to the far-flung areas of then Sonada Parish like Mirik, Dhajea and several villages in the Balasun Valley. The duo catered to some 30 Christian communities in the hill district of Darjeeling. After his voluntary retirement in 2006, Giri continues to help out in the various parish activities. Today, two parishes of Mirik and Dhajea are carved out of Sonada parish.

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