The Governor of Nagaland La Ganesan graced the Cultural program on the auspicious Golden Jubilee celebration of the Diocese of Kohima at the Cathedral Kohima on 28 October 2023.
Addressing the mammoth gathering, the Governor who was the special guest said that this half-century milestone reflects a testament of devotion, resilience, and the tireless efforts of numerous individuals who are the backbone of this diocese.
The Governor stated that the Diocese of Kohima occupies a unique and significant place in the story of Nagaland. He mentioned that the coming of the Catholic Church to Nagaland has had a huge positive impact on the state and its contributions extend far beyond mere spirituality, reaching into the very fabric of our society.
The chief guest underlined that with a strong commitment to educational upliftment, cultural development, social enrichment, and economic enhancement, the Diocese has, over the years, served as a beacon of hope and an anchor of stability in the Naga community. He pointed out that one of the noted achievements of the church was encouraging them to give up conflicts and leading them to national integration.
The Governor of Nagaland who has been for almost 8 months now lauded the contributions made by Bishop, Most Reverend Dr James Thoppil who has come all the way from Kerala in Nagaland for about 50 years or more.
The Governor expressed that the Kohima diocese has achieved so much in the last 50 years and speaks so much about their hard work and sacrifices. The Governor apprised the people that the catholic population in the state is about 63,000 with 109 Diocesan priests, 100 religious priests, and 493 religious nuns and sisters.
In education sector, the Governor said that they are also running 106 schools including 28 Hr Sec Schools, 6 colleges, 1 university, 1 teacher Training Institute, 4 vocational training centers, 1 Media and Publication Centre.
The Governor also stated that the Catholic organization is maintaining one Rehab center for alcoholics and substance abusers, 1 Rehab center for differently abled, 2 children’s Home, one Mother Teresa Home for the homeless, 1 Home for the affected and infected HIV, 1 Health Centre, 2 Dispensaries, 3 Social Work Centers, 2 Retreat Centers and one Palliative Care Centre. He said that it is indeed laudable to acknowledge the substantial contribution that the organization is making towards enhancing the socio-economic advancement of the state.
The chief guest said that celebrating its Golden Jubilee, the Diocese of Kohima is much more than a religious institution; it is an embodiment of faith, enlightenment, and development. He also said that one of the greatest and most tangible, most appreciated and benefited ministry carried out by the Church is in the field of education which is a landmark achievement as it is also a powerful tool for human development.
The Governor emphasized on the institutions established by the Diocese that they have been instrumental in molding countless young minds, shaping the ethical frameworks of our leaders, and inspiring a consciousness of duty and commitment amongst our citizens. Education is undoubtedly the greatest and best tool for social, communitarian and personal transformation and change, he added.
Encouraged them that an area that we needs to give systematic and planned attention is moral formation of the people or the conscience of the people, particularly of the students who pass out from the Catholic educational institutions, especially from the institutions of higher education like higher secondary schools, colleges and university.
The Governor said that the Church has a great role to play in changing the mindset through its educational institution and he also said that Christian faith is not merely a creed to believe or ritual to be observed but is to believed.
The Governor La Ganesan also said that another highlight of the educational ministry of the Church has been the role it has played for national integration and unity among all peoples, among all tribes and religions. The Governor said that the catholic educational ministry succeeded in enlarging the mindset and acceptance of diversity without compromising unity. Respect for persons and life in all forms and stages has also been a hall mark of educational ministry, he said.
The Governor extended his heartiest congratulations to the entire society for their remarkable dedication. Under the grace of Divine, Governor also urged the Dioceses to continue in its commitment of service, fostering a society rooted with the virtues of love, peace and harmony.
The Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio who was the guest of honor extended his warm greetings and felicitated to all the Catholic Church in Nagaland. He said that Catholic Church has becomes a vital forces that touches, influences and shapes the lives of many Nagas through its various churches activities, as well as through its many other institutions.
The CM said that the advent and acceptance of Christianity in the state was a turning point in the life of Nagaland. He said that it has taken the Nagas society to a new era of spiritual and material growth, progress and identity and also played a great role in shaping of moral standards and social cohesion of Naga society through its catholic faith, social, cultural and development activities. He called upon the authority of the catholic church to make these institutions into “centers of excellence for imparting knowledge and spiritual values”.
The CM stated that Golden Jubilee celebrations is an occasion for all of us to reflect upon what we have achieved in the past; and also to look forward to what we can do better. He said that the aim purpose of these Jubilees were to remind the Israelites what God had done for them. He added that Jubilee were used for waiving off the past debts, restore forfeited lands to the original owner, and to forgive one another for the past wrong. The CM also urged them to re-examine our relationships and move forward in the service of mankind.
US Consul General in Kolkata Melinda M. Pavek who gave a greetings message said that US has historic ties to Nagaland and its people and also said that American Baptist Missionaries, who arrived state 150 years ago, brought the Christian faith to Nagaland. She said that those missionaries were dedicated to not only teaching their faith but also providing access to education, which helped build the foundation of learning that continues today.
Pavek stated that education, culture, and interfaith exchange remain critical aspects of the Us-India friendship, bring out people together. Pavek said that she was to learn that Dioceses of Kohima has been sending Catholic priest to US for studies and exchange of Ideas through their mission Cooperative program since 1994.She said that the importance of treating other as she would like to treat, with respect ,love and compassion. The U S Consul apprised the gathering that while the Dioceses of Kohima celebrates its 50 years , the US are celebrating the sliver anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.She mentioned that Twenty five years ago, the Act elevated religious freedom as a priority issues in U.S foreign policy and strengthened U.S advocacy on behalf of Individuals and groups persecuted because of their religion or belief. She urged everyone must continue that people of all faith-or none-are treated as full participants in society, equal in rights and dignity.
Papal delegate Msgr. Juan Pablo Cerillos Hernandez who delivered the Jubilee greetings also released the Souvenir. Others who gave Jubilee greetings were included Most Rev. Dr Stefan Zekorn, Auxilliary Bishop, Munster, Germany.
St. Joseph’s college Autonomous, Jakhama preformed Cultural Folk Fusion, Folk dance by St Xavier Parish, Jalukie, and Holy Redeemer Parish Tobu and Special item from NCWA (Lidi Kro-u),and other Cultural Dance by St. Mary Parish Lozaphuhu. (0’s Vibe was displayed by St. Andrew School, Jotsoma.
Pioneers of Catholic faith in Nagaland was given by Rocus Chase, while Opera: Journey of Catholic was presented by St. Paul’s institute of education, Phesema and the special item was performed by Nagaland Catholic Women Association. Nagaland Catholic Youth Movement (NCYM) Choir also presented ‘The Lord is My Light’. During the program Most Rev Dr. James Thoppil released New Testament (Catholic) published by Lotha Literature Committee.
The delegates from Australia, Germany, Italy and others country and states were attended the program. The Minister G. Gaito, Advisor Z. Nyusietho Nyuthe, Chief Secretary J Alam , Principal Secretary to CM Abhijit Sinha and others govt, officials were attended the program.
The welcome note was delivered by Bishop of Kohima ,Most Rev. Dr. James Thoppil, and words of gratitude was pronounced by President, Catholic association of Nagaland. Johnny Ruangmei.
(PRO Raj Bhavan)