Written by Sherry
Monday, 26 May 2008 15:28
Nepal's first native priest is visiting the US. I've blogged on him before but found this article in the Sierra Vista Herald to be really interesting.
In a nation of more than 27 million people, about 7,000 are Catholics. (Sherry's note: Nepal has a total of 768,000 native Christians today although there were almost no Nepalese Christians in 1960. Almost all are Independent Christians. I've written about the extraordinary explosion of Christianity in Nepal here.) The 43-year-old priest is the first native Nepalese to be ordained into the priesthood, after attending seminary in India.
And, what led him to become a Catholic has a twist. The former Hindu was converted to Christianity by a Protestant missionary, who used John 3:16 — “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” — for changing his faith." (Sherry's note: Not surprising considering the history of Christianity in Nepal. What is interesting is that he became Catholic.)
“I was converted when I was 19,” Father Silas said.
He got the call, a spiritual awakening to enter the clergy when he was 26.
For his Hindu parents, the decision to leave the faith of his birth “was devastating, although they have now accepted it,” Father Silas said.
As the eldest son, he was expected to marry, father children and carry on the family’s line, which now becomes the responsibility of his brother, he said.
Currently there are 15 Nepalese men who are in seminaries in India, and they need funds for their education, he said.
So far, though his talks at churches in Sierra Vista, Green Valley and Tucson, he has been able to find sponsors who will support three of them to the tune of $1,200 a year, Father Silas said.
Nepal is a landlocked nation about the size of Arkansas that is going through some political turmoil as the kingdom transitions toward what he hopes will become a constitutional republic.
The last of the absolute monarchs has been forced out of office, and on Wednesday the new government that is forming will meet to determine the direction Nepal will take, he said.
What may surprise some people is that Nepal’s prime minister has asked the former Maoist insurgents to form a government. The Maoists, formally known as the Communist Party of Nepal, led a bloody revolution against the king, leading the people to eventually call for the elimination of the monarchy by a vote.
“The Maoists have promised freedom of religion,” Father Silas said.
The promise of a secular government with the right for people to practice whatever religion they want is the right direction for Nepal to take, he said.
“It will give us the opportunity to evangelize,” the priest said.
Individuals who would like to donate money to assist with Catholic work in Nepal can do so by donating funds through St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church at 800 Taylor Drive, Sierra Vista AZ 85635.
The funds will be transmitted directly to Nepal through Caritas, the Catholic international social services organization, the Rev. Greg Adolf said.