Ukhrul, Dec 21: Hungpung village in Ukhrul, Manipur and in particular the Sacred Heart Church witnessed on Tuesday the blessings of the Almighty as one of their sons was ordained a priest in the Catholic Church in the Jesuit order in the person of Rev Deacon Mark Wungchang, SJ. Fr. Mark Wungchang who is the 5th priests from Hungpung village and 27th priests from the Tangkhul community.
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The ceremony began at 10.00 am in the premises of Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School, Hungpung with the priest to be ordained led by family and relatives in the traditional way of procession to the altar.
Most Rev. Dominic Lumon D.D. Archbishop of Imphal was the Chief Celebrant and he was concelebrated by Rev. Fr. Melvil Pereira Sj, the Regional Superior of the Jesuits of Kohima Region along with 52 priests. Archbishop in his homily congratulated Deacon Mark Wungchang for his courageous steps to sacrifice his life and dedicate for the service of the people and the Church. He emphasized saying that a priest is ‘Another Christ”. He also explained that vocation is a call from God and a free response to God’s call by the priest/religios for life. It is different from profession, which is one’s choice and can be abandoned as and when he/she wishes. There were around 800 faithful present to witness the occasion.
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One of the touching moments during the Ordination was when the candidate to priesthood was presented to the Chief Celebrant. The candidate was led up to the alter by his parents – mother and elder brother to be presented to Bishop for Ordination. Before presenting the priest to be, he was in full traditional attire. Before presenting him to Bishop the mother blessed her son and they began divesting the traditional attires. This ceremony symbolizes detachment from the world, home, culture and tribe/race.
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However, it is not rejection of his past life, but according to Catholic practise it symbolizes embracing the vision and values of Jesus who calls him and sends him for His Mission. It’s rich symbolism is based on biblical text ‘we are in the world, but not of the world’ (Jn 15:19, Jn 17:14-16). The priest, as another Christ, is to be above the divisive, narrow and provisional mentalities, attitudes and ideologies. Parting from our mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, home, village and the practices and customs we are used to and to plunge into the world view of Jesus is not easy. It’s painful, but worth the effort. That’s what priesthood calls for.”
After the mass, there was a short felicitation program to felicitate the newly ordained priest Fr. Mark Wungchang Sj. Fr. Melvil Pereira. Sj. the Regional superior thanked the mother of Fr. Mark for generously offering him to the service of the Church and also to the Jesuits Congregation.
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Well wishers from Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh also presented songs and dance. In his vote of thanks, Fr. Mark expressed his gratitude to God for his family members and the Superiors and friends of their Congregation and for everyone for their constant Support and encouragement. He thanked everyone for their presence and also all the people who have worked behind the scene. After the programme, a sumptous meal was served for all who came to witness the event.
The writer, Fr. Joseph M. Thohrii is a catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Imphal, Manipur. He is currently the Vice Principal of Sacred Heart Hr. Sec. School, Hungpung, Ukhrul. He can be reached at Mtjo89@gmail.com