Odisha Church pays homage to Father Stan Swamy

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By Purushottam Nayak

Bhubaneswar: Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar in Odisha held a silent public gathering with candlelight in front of all over the Churches, religious communities, and institutions on July 28 from 6 to 6.45 PM to mark `National Justice Day’.

About 45 faithful including John Barwa, Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, gathered for a solidarity prayer at St. Vincent’s Pro-Cathedral Parish, Bhubaneswar.

“The death of Jesuit Father Stan Swamy, one of the 16 persons arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, sparked national outrage expressing the shock which has a tremendous support and solidarity from individuals, civil society organizations, dioceses and religious congregations of all over the country ever since he was arrested on October 8, 2020,” said Barwa, while paying homage to Father Swamy.

Father Swamy, a human rights activist, was arrested on false accusations of “sedition” and died on July 5 in detention, awaiting trial, in a hospital in Mumbai, western India. He spent more than 35 years working for the justice and welfare of the tribals in Jharkhand, eastern India.

“To take forward the legacy of Swamy, many organizations held events in different parts of the country in the past two weeks, and they continue to do so. This is done not only to keep Swamy’s memory is alive but also supports his work among the marginalized groups, particularly the Adivasis. Indeed, Father Stan has raised a new generation of people with deep sensitivity and solidarity with the poor,” continued the prelate.

Swamy was the defender of human rights. He could go beyond caste, creed, culture, religion and commit himself to uplift the poor, said Jesuit Father Bipin Kumar Kujur. 

“He is the prophet of the downtrodden, Adivasi, poor and the marginalized, we know Father Swamy more after his death,” added Kujur. 

Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar organized the solidarity gathering at the Capital Church of Odisha. A Bible was reading from Psalm 82 dealing with justice on the occasion followed by reciting the Holy Rosary. 

The faithful spent sometimes in silence. The priests, nuns, religious, and laity paid homage to Father Swamy after the intercessory prayer. 

“He was the man of simplicity and through non-violence means, he could fight for the poor Adivasis and Dalits,” said Father Ajay Sabhansundar, parish priest at St. Vincent’s Church, Bhubaneswar. 

“Father Swamy was a holy and honest person who stood for the defenseless, hopeless and helpless people in society,” said Suchita Bara, a parishioner. 

Father Swamy fought for justice because he knew very well if justice is absent means the presence of injustice and threat to humanity, said Kesomoti Pradhan, a tribal woman leader from Our Lady of Charity Parish, Raikia, Kandhamal.

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