Mortal remains of Archbishop Jala brought to city

SHILLONG/GUWAHATI: Tears flowed freely and voices choked on the notes of hymns sung by several hundred faithful gathered on the premises of St Dominic Savio church, Mawlai Parish and spilling over to the road.
They had waited long for the cortege carrying the mortal remains of Archbishop of Archdiocese of Shillong Dominic Jala to arrive from Guwahati, lining both sides of the road up to the Mawlai bypass holding lit candles. Hymn of “Nearer, my God, to thee” was sung by the crowd even as strains of another wafted out of the Mawlai Parish church.
It was past 11 pm when the cortege finally arrived making its way slowly to the church; in its wake followed the faithful, many all the way from the bypass about four kilometers away. People touched the ambulance carrying the mortal remains in reverence.
A special mass was held at Mawlai Parish church and tributes paid.
At Mawlai Phudmuri, the parental home of Jala, relatives and a large crowd waited to receive the body of their dear one.
The mortal remains will be kept for the night at Mawlai Phudmuri where vigil prayers by different groups will be held. Young volunteers were there to ensure that discipline was maintained by the crowd. Pascal Lyngdoh, a member of the church, said the people started to gather from 8 pm.
People cutting across Christian denominations gathered at Mawlai Phudmuri.
A 72- year-old lady accompanied by her young grand daughter told this reporter that she had arrived at 6 pm.
The church bell rang, signaling the arrival of the cortege.
As the cortege entered the premises of the Mawlai Parish, the dam broke as a wail went up in the air.
The concelebrated requiem mass followed. It was then announced that the mortal remains will be taken to Nazareth Hospital to be checked by the doctors early on Monday.
From Monday till the funeral on Wednesday, the body will be kept at the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians, Laitumkhrah for the faithful to pay their homage.
Earlier in the afternoon, the mortal remains were brought to the LGBI Airport, Guwahati from Imphal Airport after arriving from Delhi and then a special vehicle carrying the body, proceeded to the Don Bosco Provincial House en route to Meghalaya.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, along with ministers, MLAs, MDCs and other leaders from the state were at the LGBI Airport to pay their tribute to Jala, who passed away following a road accident in the United States on October 10.
A requiem mass was held presided over by Archbishop of Guwahati, John Moolachira at the Provincial House at Guwahati attended by a large gathering comprising Catholic Bishops of North East India, Church leaders, members of the Salesian family and members of the Archdiocese of Shillong among others.
Speaking on the occasion, Archbishop of Guwahati, Moolachira, who is also the president of North East India Regional Bishops Council (NEIRBC), remem-bered Jala as a “simple, friendly, very sincere and hardworking person”.
En route to Shillong, the mortal remains of the Archbishop were taken to the Byrnihat Parish, Nongpoh Parish and Umsning Parish. After the Ad Limina visit of the Bishops of North East India in Rome, Jala had gone to the US to attend a meeting of the ICEL (International Commission for English Liturgy) and to meet some of his friends.
The accident occurred while he was travelling with two other priests, Fr. Mathew Vellankal and Fr. Joseph Parekatt. While the Archbishop and Fr. Mathew died on the spot, Fr. Joseph was admitted to the hospital with serious injuries.Born on July 12, 1951 at Mawlai Phudmuri, in the Archdiocese of Shillong, Jala was appointed the Archbishop in December 1999. At the transfer of Bishop Victor Lyngdoh to the diocese of Jowai in 2017,  Jala was also appointed the apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Nongstoin. Before being appointed archbishop, he was the provincial of the Salesians of Don Bosco of Guwahati Province. He was actively involved in all matters connected with the Church in North East India and Catholic Bishops Conference of India. Jala was also the chairman of NEIRBC from 2012 to 2019 (September) and the chairman of the Liturgical commission of the CBCI for several years,” the council president said.

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