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But the priests and sisters also live with them and make regular pastoral visits to many outlying villages and hamlets where the physical conditions are undeveloped.

I was also privileged to visit the state of Punjab in the northwest of India, bordering on Pakistan. Accompanying the Syro-Malabar bishop of Faridabad, Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, whose territory covers about one-fourth of India, we traveled to the remote town of Panniwala for a pastoral visit with 300 catechumens preparing for baptism. Due to many unforeseen challenges — namely, horrible road conditions, the lack of maps and very few people able to direct us — we arrived hours late. Arriving almost in darkness, we were shocked to be greeted by over 200 excited drummers, Punjabi dancers and faith-filled poor who escorted us to a public area where we were welcomed as honored guests.

In my words to them (ably translated by one of the priests), I simply shared a common message to the poor, that “we are all part of a larger family — God’s family — and he loves each and every one of us. No one is alone, because Jesus always walks with us.” But their fervor in learning about the faith and their pride in expressing it, along with their beautiful welcome to me, made this point much more eloquently. As I have found so often in my priesthood: The learner becomes the teacher, the disciple becomes the master.

There are still many places on earth where the Good News of Jesus has not yet been heard. And sadly, there are places where it has been lost or nearly extinguished. The great north of India is ripe for the missionary call of these two dynamic churches. And CNEWA is committed to walk with them on this important journey of faith.

Would you like to join CNEWA in helping the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara churches extend their hearts and hands to the unreached of India? Would you like to assist these missionaries in bringing hope to the poor by coming to learn about and appreciate the Good News?

Your financial gifts allow us to fortify our expressions of solidarity with these churches and with the poor in these unreached areas.

I have a special favor to ask of you. As you make the sign of the cross and say the Our Father, think of the smiling and hope-filled faces of these humble souls as they grow in their faith, learning they are enveloped in the arms of God. Then, thank God for the gift of faith, the witness of the missionaries, and for the poor themselves!

May God bless you.

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