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INDIA: Increase in Vocations from Tribal Groups

Forty-one young women from ethnic minority groups took vows to become Catholic nuns in a rare event of this scale in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. Church leaders welcomed what they described as a trend for more tribal people to choose a religious path in life.

More than 1,000 Catholics, including families and parishioners of the women, gathered for the ceremony at the Nirmala Catholic Church in the state capital, Ranchi. The women took vows to become nuns of the indigenous congregation of Daughters of St. Anne.

“This is a great sign that young people are attracted to religious life,” Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi, who officiated at the ceremony, told Ucanews. It also showed that the Indian Church was thriving despite opposition from Hindu nationalist groups, the cardinal added. Cardinal Toppo noted that such vocations were fast replacing missionaries who earlier came to where there were pockets of Catholics.

Superior General Sister Linda Mary Vaughan said the new members came from indigenous communities in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and the Andaman Islands. More than 1,100 nuns of the congregation are mostly engaged in remote missions aiming to empower villagers.

A local catholic woman, who later came to be known as Mother Mary Bernadette Prasad Kispotta, founded the congregation in 1897. The congregation now has no shortage of vocations. Sister Vaughan said another 38 novices will be ready to profess later  this year and 50 more in 2019. 

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