On December 3, 2022, Br. Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., Superior General, and the Most Rev. Robert Miranda, Bishop of the Diocese of Gulbarga, dedicated the new chapel and religious residence at the Divine Mercy Centre in Afzalpur in India. Also present for the dedication was Fr. Roque D’Costa, C.S.C., Superior of the Province of South India, which oversees the mission.
The Centre, which is located in a remotely and largely non-Catholic area in the state of Karnataka, was opened by the South India Province in 2019 in response to Pope Francis’s call to minister “to the peripheries” of society. Given the level of poverty in the region, the mission is also consistent with our Congregational mission priority of a preferential option for the poor.
Fr. Lawrence D’Almeida, C.S.C., Director of the Divine Mercy Centre, was the first Holy Cross Priest to arrive in Afzalpur. After being met with some suspicion, he slowly won the hearts and trust of the local people.
Three years later, with the assistance of a growing team that includes Fr. Oliver Nazareth, C.S.C., Fr. Roshan Minin D’Souza, C.S.C., seminarian Mr. Philip Raj, C.S.C., and the Salesian Sisters, the Centre now sponsors numerous self-help groups in the local villages, provides training in tailoring and computer, and offers classes in personal hygiene, nutrition, and health care.
In addition, a school is currently under construction with an anticipated dedication in March of this year. This will help grow and expand the important outreach that the Divine Mercy Centre is providing to the people of the region.
The day celebration included Mass celebrated by Bishop Miranda with numerous Holy Cross Priests and other religious present. Later, a cultural program was hosted in which several local dignitaries attended and spoke about the hope that the Centre provides in the area. A lunch was later enjoyed by all.
In his speech, Br. Bednarzcyk commended the South India Province for “having the competence to see and the courage to act” in responding to the needs of the poor.