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India

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India is one of the world's oldest civilizations and a modern giant with a highly educated and growing middle class which includes more computer programmers and technicians than any other country in the world.  Although evangelized since apostolic times, India of today counts only 23 million Christians in its population of a billion.  Of these 18 million are Catholics, who are served by 23,000 priests and 80,000 women religious.  The most Christian state is Kerala, which counts 5,200,000 Catholics in a population of 32 million.  Most of these Catholics are of the Syriac-Malabar rite, which dates to the time of the apostle St. Thomas.
 
The city of Bangalore in the neighboring state of Karnataka is about 15 - 20% Catholic.  The Society of Our Lady (SOLT) is interested in establishing a formation house in Bangalore because the city is rich in priestly vocations and there is a major seminary in Bangalore to form priests to go as missionaries to less Christian regions of India. In addition, Fr. Santan Pinto of the SOLT priests' council is a personal friend of Archbishop Bernard Mora of Bangalore.
 
The vast majority of Indians are Hindus, devotees of the only system of ancient paganism to survive on a large scale down to modern times.  Most of the remainder are Moslems, with significant numbers of Sikhs in parts of the north.  Our Lord and His Holy Mother call on today's Church to complete the work of St. Thomas and St. Francis Xavier and we at SOLT are eager to do our part.

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St. Thomas the Apostle

St. Thomas, the hard-headed skeptical apostle who demanded physical proof of the Lord’s resurrection, was selected to carry the Gospel to the lands east of the Roman Empire.  He started at the border city of Edessa in modern Syria, but later became the slave of Gundafor, a powerful king who ruled over much of what is now Afghanistan and modern India.  St. Thomas converted Gundafor and then traveled further into India, preaching and gaining converts.  He received the crown of martyrdom at the hands of another king, Mazdai, whose wife and son Thomas had converted.  Communication with the main body of the Catholic Church was difficult and sporadic, but on the Malabar coast of western India, a body of “Thomas Christians” have maintained the faith down to this day, using the  Syriac liturgy.  Impressed by the simplicity of the Gospel preached by Thomas in contrast to the extravagant mythology of their native paganism, the Indians called Thomas “teacher of reality”.   The name Thomas is still very common among Indian Christians.

St. Francis Xavier, one of the greatest missionaries of the Church, was born in Navarre, Spain in 1506 and died on the island of Sancian near China in 1552.  He was an early disciple of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.  In 1542, he arrived in the Portuguese colony of Goa in India.  For three years, Francis evangelized southern India, gaining many converts among children, the sick, and fishermen.  He had to endure the persecution of local rulers and tried to reform the Portuguese, who often set a bad example for the new Christians.  He then left India on a mission which was to carry the Catholic faith to Malaysia, the Spice Islands (modern Indonesia), the Philippines, and Japan.  He returned to Goa in 1552 and prepared for a mission to China, but was called to God before reaching the Chinese mainland.   In the short space of 10 years, St. Francis Xavier baptized 100,000 persons into the Catholic Church.

 

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Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, known throughout the world as Mother Theresa, was born Agnes Gonxsha Bojaxhiu in 1910 in Skopje, in what is now the country of Macedonia.  Joining the Sisters of Loretto at the age of 17, she took the name Theresa after St. Therese of Lisieux, and became a missionary to India.  With the permission of the Church, she founded a new congregation in 1948 to minister to the poorest of the poor, and this was officially recognized in 1950 as the Missionaries of Charity.  The new order has since spread its works of Christian love throughout the world.  Mother Theresa based her spiritual life on Jesus in the Eucharist and on daily praying of the rosary of the Virgin Mary.  She carried a rosary in her hand throughout the day.  Millions mourned her death after a life rich in good works.  She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 2003.

SOLT Mission Development
PO Box 489
Bosque, NM 87006
 
(505) 977-8320
 
padrejk@soltmissiondevelopment.org