Central IndiaThe Order of St Augustine has expanded into Central India, 1,600 kilometres away from its historical base in Kerala; that is the same distance as Brisbane to Melbourne in Australia or from London to Kiev in Europe. Central India is different in a number of ways from Kerala, far away from the coast and with a far less proportion of Catholics in the population. Augustinian developments are now being actively sought there in the area of Catholic Education.
The Madhya Pradesh mission by the Vicariate of Our Lady of Grace (India) was started on 11 September 2013 at Barwani, one of the Districts within the State of Madhya Pradesh. The aim of this mission is to spread the Augustinian spirit to the central part of the India and proclaim Christ through our presence in the pastoral activities and in the educational field.
In order to make an acquaintance with the new place and culture, Augustinian priests and non-clerical brothers were sent to a small town named Barwani, which comes under the territory of Khandwa Diocese. Barwani possesses a Catholic Church and fifty families, some of them were from villages very distant from the parish church. The Augustinians visited these remote villages, some of which were reached only after travelling on foot for four hours..
In Barwani, the new missionaries stayed in a rented house and were helping the parish priest of Barwani. With the permission the Bishop a room in the house was used as a chapel, and local Catholics attended for Eucharist and devotional prayer.
Subsequently the Augustinians moved to the Indore Diocese, where there is a good scope for providing educational opportunities. Indore is one of the important commercial cities of India; according to the Census of 2011 the population of the Indore is 2,167,447. The Diocese of Indore has nine parishes and 21,000 Christians. Rev. Bishop Chako S.V.D, Bishop of Indore welcomed the Augustinians and asked them to stay in Manavada Nagar where around forty Catholic families reside. It is around six to eight kilometres from the cathedral. For many years these families have been longing for a local chapel to fulfil their spiritual needs.
On 28 August 2014, on the feast day of St Augustine, was the inauguration of the new chapel in that rented house in Manavada Nagar. The bishop and local diocesan priests attended the ceremony. All the neighbouring Christian families participated. From that day onwards daily Mass was held in the chapel of the house rented by the Augustinians. Every Thursday evening there is a special Mass and prayer service. A large number of faithful participate in it. The youth there are so energetic and they show interest in prayer services and gatherings. Possibilities for an Augustinian education ministry are being actively investigated, and various land sites have been inspected.
Diversity can been seen among the Catholics in Indore. Excluding the native Catholics, among others, most them are form Kerala, namely Syro-Malabar Catholics. The remaining Catholic families are from the states of Thamilnadu, Anthrapredesh, Odiya, Behar, Utharpradesh, Chathisgad, Karnadka and Goa. This diversity is the beauty of Indore Diocese. Though they are from different states and from different rites, they are united in faith and participate in prayer and Holy Mass without any tension. This unity can also be noted in our small chapel.
One of the Augustinians commented, “The Catholic Church in Madhya Pradesh is in its infancy. Here the Church needs more missionaries who are zealous and enthusiastic in mission activities. Our charism will be helpful for them; the youth can be enlightened by our “friendship”, the families can be enlightened by our “community life and monastic way of praying”. We are getting tuned in with the long tradition of our missionary Augustinian province (the Province of the Holy Names of Jesus of the Philippines) and fulfilling the dreams of those who walked before us.”(India continues on the next page.)
Photo Gallery For the Augnet photo gallery on the Vicariate of India (including the above pictures), click here.