Archbishop Dominic Jala laid to rest in Shillong

SHILLONG: Archbishop Dominic Jala was laid to rest on Wednesday outside the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians, Laitumkhrah even a sea of believers paid their last respect to the Catholic leader who had died in an accident in October 10 in California, USA.

Volunteers lined the road to the Cathedral as the people, young and old, made their way to the funeral service. There was no movement of vehicles on the road  on Wednesday because of the funeral giving much needed space to the believers to walk freely in the middle of the road.

A condolence message from the Secretary of State, Vatican was read out in English and Khasi which stated that Pope Francis was saddened to learn about the death of Archbishop Jala and sent condolences to the priests and believers.

Speaking at the funeral, brother of the Archbishop, Louise Jala said, “When we came to know of your death, our hearts grieved, we were saddened and we started to feel lonely”.

He said that late Jala would visit his mother’s home when he was alive and the family felt safe and secure in his presence.

“He was an elder brother, an uncle and a responsible elder who would be present in times of grief and joy and was ever present in times of difficulties. He never forgets about his family. His death has brought about emptiness in our hearts,” Louise said.

Secretary of the North East India Christian Council (NEICC), Rev Ramengliana recalled the Archbishop for making an effort to unite the different Christian denominations to address the grievances of the entire Christian community.

He said that the Archbishop had in the month of September invited the NEICC for discussion which was attended by top leaders of the NEICC to discuss various issues faced by the Christian Churches in India presently.

Shillong MP Vincent Pala said that the persons involved in bringing back the body of the Archbishop initially faced a hurdle when they could not find the Archbishop’s passport that could be traced later. He said that Jala had passed away due to shock which affected his heart and brain. Pala said that some Greek books and prayer requests from people were found in Jala’s possession.

The MP said that the doctors in the US had said that there would be a change in the appearance of the Archbishop but, he added, it was a miracle that no such change eventually occurred and the doctors in Nazareth Hospital here too checked it.

“The body remained the way it was kept in the casket in the US,” he said.

Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said Jala was a man who contributed immensely to the state and was a friend and confidante.

He recalled that when tributes were made to his late father Purno Sangma in St. Anthony’s College, late Jala compared Purno with Don Bosco. “Today that made me think about the similarities the Archbishop shared with Don Bosco who was loved and respected by everyone across different faiths for his service towards everyone”, he said.

Congress leader and former state Chief Minister, Dr Mukul Sangma said Jala was a source of inspiration. “I have lost a great teacher and a counselor”, he said.

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