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Will build bridges with other faiths: new auxiliary bishop

In a ceremony recently,Rev. Franco Mulakkal (44) was ordained as the auxiliary bishop for the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese.

Written by Chinki Sinha | New Delhi |
February 24, 2009 11:45:53 pm

In a ceremony recently,Rev. Franco Mulakkal (44) was ordained as the auxiliary bishop for the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese. Franco,who hails from Kerela,will assist Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao in his task.

The ceremony was held at St Columba’s School on February 21 in the presence of Vatican Ambassador to India,Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana,chief minister Sheila Dikshit,bishops,archbishops and numerous priests and nuns.

The ceremony,attended by around 6,000 people,was steeped in symbolism,complete with prayers and dance by folk dancers.

“We have a heterogeneous community. Many church members are adivasis from tribal areas in Bihar and Jharkhand,” Fr. Stanley,a church official,said.

For Sister Leona from Jharkhand,who works for the Delhi Archdiocese,it was big day. “This day we accept him as an officer. He is our shepherd and he will lead us,guide us,” she said.

After all,the ceremony was happening after almost a decade. Rev Franco was posted in Jalandhar before he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the auxiliary bishop in January.

Born on March 25,1964,Rev. Franco was ordained priest for the Diocese of Jalandhar in 1990. He was serving as the treasurer of the Apostolic Union of the Clergy,Rome,at the time of his appointment as bishop.

The Delhi Archdiocese has more than 60 churches under it and includes seven districts of Haryana. It has more than one lakh members.

During the ceremony,which ran for more than three hours,the high point was when Rev. Franco prostrated on the floor and then rose,symbolising his ‘death’ and then new birth into priestly service.

The ceremony concluded with an inter-religious prayer service — a longstanding tradition — in which Swami Shantatamananda of the Sri Ramakrishna Mission,Giani Shivteg Singh of the Sikh community,and Maulana Abdul Hameed Nomani of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind asked for blessings of the new bishop.

“They are part of us. We live in one world,” Fr. Dominick Emmanuel said. Rev. Franco,who has been a consulter on the Pontifical Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue in Rome,hopes to work more extensively in reaching out to other communities and building bridges.

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