Interview with Fr. Raj Mannes AMIRTHA, O.P.

Dominican Month for Peace
December 1, 2019 – January 1, 2020
Solidarity with the Dominican Family in India

fr Raj Mannes AMIRTHA, O.P. belongs to the Province of the Dominican Friars of India, and is well aware of its national reality. He is now the new Socius of the Master for Asia and the Pacific.

  • Dominican month for peace has focused on India, what do you want to say to the Dominican Family of the World?

            For a long time, India had been associated with mysticism, spirituality, tolerance, equality, hospitality, freedom, democracy, secularism, religious diversity, cultural diversity, linguistic diversity, etc. But unfortunately during the last five years, the present government is systematically and deliberately destroying the age old diversity, values, principles and lifestyles of the people of India. 

            The present government of India has already systematically and subtly destroyed many of the foundations and principles of being “unique” India. The Indian sub-continent is being polarized on the basis of religion, intolerance is very wide spread, deviated from the fundamental secular principles, deliberately destroyed the democratic structures and controls the entire administrative system. Lots of violence against women, children and the less privileged people on the basis of the “caste system”. Freedom is robbed from the citizens and uniformity based on Hindu religion is imposed on the whole country. Where there had been diversity, now they want only uniformity. Economy is in a bad shape and there is no development and high level of unemployment. 

            There is widespread unrest in India because of the policies and practices and imposition of new laws and guidelines. Specifically, the intellectuals and educational institutions are violently targeted. 

            While there is widespread agitation in India against many of the imposed Hindu fundamentalist and narrow view of India and thus hopefully to bring back the peaceful and free India, I would also request the members of the Dominican Family all over the world to pray for peace in India and to get back to the age-old “Indian-ness” of living with unity in diversity, expression of tolerance and experiencing freedom. My gratitude to the Dominican family all over the world for the special prayer service as well as awareness program in different places.    

  • What is your best pastoral experience with the Dominican Family in India?

The best pastoral experience has been collaboration of the Dominican family in the area of formation and mutual support in the ministry. The Dominican presence in India is very small and so every year or every two years the members of the Dominican family would come together for different levels of formation program as well as planning for collaborative pastoral activities. I had been a resource person or an animator during some of those gatherings. This has always enriched me to learn from others and to be more and more aware of the richness, resourcefulness and depth of being a Dominican. 

Along with the Dominican Laity of different places have had preaching ministry and outreach program which had immense and fulfilling pastoral experience for me.      

  • Prayer along the labyrinth has made many visitors to Santa Sabina aware of this. What can you tell us about this experience?

            Labyrinth was very creative in nature and the visitors to Santa Sabina were surprised by the labyrinth made out of candles. The curiosity made many of them to find their way through the labyrinth and to make a prayer for peace in India. Many more people came after the first weekend and also many more made their way through the labyrinth and pray for peace in India. The children enjoyed the most and the young people felt the need to participate in this prayer exercise for peace. 

I would like to thank the brothers Arnould Alain, the prior of the community, Deeb Mike, Wagner Philipp Johannes, Abanto Javier and the entire Santa Sabina community for their participation, encouragement and support for this prayerful venture. Gratitude to all for praying for peace during the Holy Mass as well as during the evening prayer.   

  • How do you see the future of the Dominican Family in India?

            The members of the Dominican family in India regularly interact with one another as there is great collaboration, sharing and participative ministry. Presently we have in India only three branches of the Dominican family and hopefully in the near future other branches would also come to be. Certainly there is a bright future for the Dominican family, as in a few more places the communities of Dominican Laity are being established and would be animated by different branches of the Dominican family.

(by fr. Javier Abanto, O.P.)

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