Anti-Christian violence victim from Kandhamal ordained priest for Buxar

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By Purushottam Nayak

Tiangia, Odisha: A victim of anti-Christian 2008 persecution from Odisha’s Kandhamal district is now a priest for the Buxar diocese in Bihar State. 

“Neither persecution nor threat to life by the Hindu fundamentalists could stop me to dedicate my life to the Kingdom of God,” said Bikash Nayak, a new Dalit priest from Tiangia, a Catholic village that saw the highest number of deaths in the anti-Christian violence.

He underwent the fear and threat of life during the anti-Christian violence. He had hidden in the forest to save his life from the Hindu right-wing groups. 

“I am inspired and motivated by Fr Bernard Digal, a priest of the same village and the treasurer of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, who was brutally killed in the anti-Christian violence,” said Father Nayak.

Fr Bernard was a relative of the new priest. Innocent Christians were victims of that wrath. But the threat rather made Fr. Nayak stronger to witness Jesus. “I am proud of my faith,” continues Nayak. 

Fr. Nayak is the ninth priest from Tiangia village under Our Lady of Charity parish of Raikia, Kandhamal, Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

The village saw the highest number of deaths—seven victims during the anti-Christian violence that was carried by Hindu hardline groups in the aftermath of the death of a Hindu leader in August 2008.

Despite the rain, Catholic mothers of Tiangia village with great joy welcomed the new priest with dance. The youth also performed the entrance dance before the Mass.

As many as 15 priests, five nuns, and hundreds of people gathered for the thanksgiving Mass of Fr Nayak at Tiangia on November 13. 

The new priest Nayak has the great commission from Jesus to go everywhere to preach and teach the Good News, said Fr Jugal Kishore Digal in his homily referring to the Gospel of the day Matthew 28:16-28. 

“It is an essential element of being a disciple. We are to take the Good News to all nations, baptizing those who believe the Gospel, teaching them to obey everything that Jesus commanded us,” continued Digal. 

Nayak is the youngest of three siblings of Gokul and Christina Nayak. He was born on April 7, 1992. 

He did his primary and high school in his village. He finished his grade tenth at the time of the anti-Christian violence of 2008. He completed inter-mediate college study at Jiban Jyoti College, Raikia in 2010.

He joined Mashih Gurukul Seminary, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh in 2010. He studied philosophy at St. Charles Seminary, Nagpur in 2016 and theology at Vidya Jyoti, Delhi in 2021. 

Archbishop of Patna Sebastian Kallupura, the apostolic administrator of Buxar, on Nov 6ordained Father Nayak. About 800 faithful and more than 200 priests and nuns witnessed the ordination.

Buxar diocese has 19 diocesan priests, 17 parishes, and 33 thousand Catholic faithful. 

“I am proud of my son whom God saved miraculously from the Hindu radical groups in 2008. We spent sleepless nights in the jungle without food and drink with my children,” said the new priest’s mother Christina in tears of joy.

“If God is with us who can be against us,” she affirmed quoting Romans 8:31.

The new priest paid homage to the martyrs at the Kandhamal martyrs’ memorial in Tiangia after thanksgiving Mass. 

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