Vassula Addresses Thousands in Jharkand, India
November 6 - 10, 2004
The vast subcontinent of India, with its population of 1,065 million, 2.3% of which are Christian, has the second largest population of Christians in Asia, after the Philippines. No wonder Vassula has visited and held meetings in many parts of this country in the past 7 years, namely: Kerala, New Delhi, Goa, Mumbai, Bangalore, Varanasi, to cite a few, and finally this time Ranchi and Khutpani, in the newly formed state of Jharkhand, located in northeastern India.
November 6: New Delhi, then on to Ranchi, Capital of Jharkhand
Father Stephen Raphael, the faithful and hardworking charismatic priest from Calcutta, in his perseverance and insistence, welcomed Vassula in New Delhi, the stepping-stone to a marvelous and grace-filled experience. Catarina from Bangladesh was on hand to accompany us on this trip to meet the newly formed TLIG Prayer Groups. The two and a half hour plane ride from Delhi took us to Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand where we were welcomed by crowds at the airport, in a hail of flowers and songs. On a brief stop at the Archbishop’s House, Vassula was welcomed in the Adiwasi tribal tradition of young dancing girls leading us on through the rituals of washing of hands and marking on the forehead, and greeted by the distinguished Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, the Archbishop of Ranchi. An amicable exchange of greetings ensued, with warm wishes for an enjoyable and successful visit to Ranchi, home to the largest Catholic community in northern India. We continued our journey with a three hour. ride through the beautiful jungles to Chakradharpur where we spent two nights at the Ursuline Convent.
November 8: Annual Celebration of the Feast of the First Christian Converts in Jharkhand
This event took place 12 kms. from the convent, in the village of Khutpani. The tribes of this region were given the Christian faith through the Ursuline Sisters from Belgium in 1873. At about that same time, a Belgian missionary, Fr. Constant Lievens arrived and was instrumental in the continuing conversion of the tribes, uniting them in the Christian faith. Fr. Lievens is very much honored and revered, and so the cause for his beatification is being spearheaded by the Ranchi diocese.
Cardinal Telesphore Toppo from Ranchi and Bishop Felix Toppo of Jamshedpur were officiating at this very special event with Vassula Rydén as their special guest speaker. The field in Khutpani at 8 o’clock in the morning, when we arrived, was a feast for the eyes. The Cardinal and the Bishop flanked Vassula as they neared the covered podium, slowly making their way following the lines of dancing girls, going through the ritual of the washing of hands and the marking of foreheads. From the stage, we saw an array of colorful tents, banners waving, men and women in their native dress, filled with songs and laughter. The crowds numbered 20,000, made up of different tribes from the area. After an introduction by Fr. Stephen Raphael, Vassula witnessed. She spoke of her experience in a very simple way; she was speaking to the little children of God. "Why did God create us? To love Him and serve Him. How do we serve Him? By loving one another..."
The simplicity of her sharing touched the crowd; there was absolute silence as she spoke of reconciliation, repentance and all the themes of the Messages. The mysticism of India is in its people, manifested through their gentleness and faith. The affection the tribes demonstrated for their Bishop and Cardinal during the celebration of the Holy Mass and the prayers offered commemorating the first Christian Families of the region was proof of the success of the Church’s missionary apostolate through the centuries in this part of the world.
November 9: Prayer Festival in the Loyola Grounds, Ranchi
The warmth and respect accorded to Vassula by Cardinal Toppo during this meeting which gathered 25,000 Catholic faithful of the dioceses of Ranchi and non-Christians can be seen in the following translated Introduction by the Cardinal himself.
Farewell Address at Loyola Grounds Meeting
Dear Mrs.Vassula Ryden,
On behalf of His Eminence Telesphore Placidus Cardinal Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, Most Rev. Michael Minj Bishop of Gumla and the entire Church of Chotanagpur and especially the local church and the faithful present here, I extend my sincere thanks to you for being with us.
You have shared with us your vision and personal dialogue with Jesus and your life experience with Jesus. It will not only enrich our faith in God but it will also inspire us to love and pray to God daily and share our joy with everyone. Your stress on the unity of churches will surely set a tone to work more seriously for ecumenism and dialogue with our brothers in Jesus Christ.
Your strong faith in Jesus, your own personal prayer life and conviction with which you share the love of Jesus who is the Savior of us all, has touched each and everyone present here.
Your firm belief in the presence of the Lord in the Holy Eucharist has inspired us to hunger and thirst daily to receive Him worthily. I am confident that many of us will join the perpetual adoration without failing.
May God continue to bless you, your family and your good work all over the world. Once again, thank you for being with us.
Fr. Lucas Tirkey
November 10: Our last day in India
Vassula started her last day in Ranchi with a private meeting with the Cardinal where she was able to thank him for his openness and hospitality. He in turn thanked her for coming to Ranchi, repeating his view that her presence in Ranchi at this time was part of God’s plan. She delivered in his hands the file containing the letters from the CDF, updating him on the review of her activities and the writings of True Life in God by the office of Cardinal Ratzinger in the Vatican. The Cardinal indeed was very pleased and invited her to stay in his sitting room for a newspaper interview.
The correspondent for the Hindustan Times questioned Vassula on mainly feminist issues regarding the ordination of women, inequality and harassment. He was interested to know if Vassula had delivered the Messages of True Life in God to Muslim countries, and she informed him of her meetings in Bangladesh, Egypt and Lebanon, and her coming meeting in Pakistan in 2005.
Before leaving Ranchi, Vassula made it a point to meet the organizers and the members of the TLIG prayer groups formed by Father Stephen Raphael.
Here ends Vassula’s visit to Jharkhand, its Cardinal and Bishops. We took the late night flight to Kaohsiung, Taiwan via Hongkong from New Delhi that same day.