Yangoon (Fides Service) - Catholics in the village of Namahkaw-Man Pan in the diocese of Lashio at the heart of Myanmar have a new church complex in which to pray, celebrate the Sacraments and come together for meetings and festivities.
The whole village turned out for the solemn consecration of the new church built with contributions from the people of money, materials or even manual work. Students at the local Don Bosco Seminary helped collect bricks and paint the walls. The Mass of consecration was presided by Bishop Philip Za Hawng, and religious and laity from all over the area came for the occasion, according to the Salesian bulletin ANS.
Namahkaw-Man Pan village is situated 38 miles from Thibaw on the road to Namlan in the interior of Myanmar, an are which has developed since the recent peace agreement between Shan ethnic warriors and the government. Initially in 1990 the village was formed by 10 families tired of moving from place to place. More families settled and today there are 39 family groups all of Lisu ethnic origin.
In his homily the Bishop entrusted the church to the villagers urging them to care for this place where they come to meet God and brothers and sisters in the faith. Parish priest Marian Soe Naing thanked the Bishop for his generous help to build the new church built despite difficulties and for coming to consecrate it. He also thanked the villagers, especially the head of the village, and all who helped in many different ways to provide the village with a place of Christian worship.
Myanmar has a population of 51 million including 600,000 Catholics assisted by 16 bishops, 600 priests 1,400 religious and 3,000 catechists. The Catholic community is closely united and the task of evangelisation is entrusted to well formed travelling catechists who make regular visits to families many of whom live in remote areas. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 1/9/2005 righe: 30, parole: 380)