In 2018, Christians in eastern India’s Odisha state marked the 10th anniversary of the terrible massacre and atrocities inflicted on them by Hindu extremists. The year ended with the grace and blessing of the Lord when two siblings who survived the persecution, offered themselves to the Lord in consecrated life.
They are Fr. Anand Pradhan and Sr. Anjali Pradhan, brother and sister, who 10 years ago had to flee to save their lives from Hindu zealots who destroyed their home in Odisha’s Kandhamal district, the epicentre of the anti-Christian violence.
The two have another sister, Sr. Jitima Pradhan, a member of the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.
On December 27, Fr. Anand was ordained a priest of the Order of Friars Minor and his sister, Anjali, pronounced her final vows as a member of the Society of Saint Anne of Luzern. A reception was held in Mundakanga on December 29th in which more than 1,500 people, 15 priests and five nuns were present. Among them were also 7 Christian families and 80 local Hindus who felicitated the siblings donating fruit and other gifts, according to the custom of their religion.
Flight and reconciliation
It was on August 25, 2008, that hell broke loose on the Christians of Kandhamal, with the extremists attacking them for the August 23 murder of Hindu leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, even though Maoist rebels claimed the assassination.
The Pradhan brother and sister who escaped were prevented by Hindu families from returning and rebuilding their home in Mundakanga. It was here that the two returned for a ceremony of reconciliation and thanksgiving, in which the entire village joined the celebration.
Speaking during the ceremony, Fr. Anand Pradhan urged for reconciliation. "We are Indians citizens of one country, of one state, of one family. God created us in his image and likeness to
Fr Anand entered the Arundaya Capuchin Ashram Minor Seminary in
His sister, Sr. Anjali joined the Society of St. Ann, Luzern in 2010. She completed her novitiate in Vishakapatnam and made her first profession of faith on 21 November 2016.
Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar and the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) marked the 10th anniversary of the 2008 massacre with a solemn Mass on August 25, 2018, in the state capital, Bhubaneswar, and appealed for secularism, democracy, justice and peace and brotherhood.
Once more, as has been evident through the centuries, the ordeal of the Pradhan siblings prove how true the words of the 2nd century Church Father, Tertullian are: “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity.” (Source: AsiaNews)