By ZENIT Staff

Bishops and Catholic faithful in the State of Orissa (Odisha) lived the Sunday of Divine Mercy, April 19, by dedicating themselves to the marginalized, the “discarded”, migrants and destitute, in this phase of “total lockdown” of the nation, due to the Covid-19 emergency, extended by the government until May 3. As local Church sources explain to Fides News Agency, hunger has become the worst enemy of COVID-19 for the poorest. The poor, marginalized, day laborers are the most affected by this lockdown: they have no job, no money or food to live on.

The Bishops of Odisha State took the initiative to help the poor and needy during the national lockdown of the Divine Mercy on Sunday 19 April 2020.

The diocese of Rayagada organized the food distribution service also involving other civil society organizations, in favor of migrant workers, drivers, small traders, day laborers, widows, the elderly, beggars, the homeless.

“The Divine Mercy of Christ is the love he has for humanity, despite our sins that separate us from him”, explained Mgr. Aplinar Senapati, of the Congregation of the Mission (CM) Bishop of Rayagada, committed to offering materials to the poor and needy.

“While maintaining social distancing, our hearts are close to the poor and needy: and Jesus shows that his mercy for the little ones”, he said. “In our simple way, we reach these people who are of God”.

The Diocese distributed food and a health kit with disinfectant, soap and face masks to 700 families. The Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary (FMM) joined the distribution and helped people receive the kits. “Thanks to these gifts, we experience the love and mercy of our God”, said Priti Pradhan, a Catholic widow from Rayagada.

“We decided that all parishes, schools, and institutions could generate their own food funds and stocks to help the poor in the daily ration of food”, said Mgr. Niranjan Sualsingh, Bishop of Sambalpur, while distributing food materials to slum dwellers and migrants.

At this time of the fight against COVID-19, stress among people is increasing, the situation of the poor and migrant workers is getting worse. Millions of Indians suffer. “We must be sensitive to this unprecedented human tragedy. Current situations require simplicity and austerity of lifestyle, to alleviate the suffering of the poorest”, added Mgr. Niranjan Sualsingh.

Thanks to the collaboration of the various parishes and the various religious orders, male and female, the suburb areas or the poorest neighborhoods have been reached, including the colony of lepers in Burla and 250 families of a slum, all of the non-Christian population.

“COVID-19 has made us all more considerate and compassionate towards people, towards the hopeless people of society, without any discrimination of ethnicity or religious”, said Sister Sunita Ekka Superior of the congregation of the Holy Cross and Sambalpur. The civil authorities of the State greatly appreciated the gesture and solidarity of the Catholics.

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