Church in India responds to coronavirus pandemic

People Follow social distancing in India during the pandemic. (Photo licensed under Wiki Commons)

Frank Krishner, RVA News

Even as India continues to report a daily COVID-19  infection rate of over 380,000 cases and the media is replete with distress stories from all over the country, several Catholic dioceses have come forward to help, in whatever way they can, those most affected.

The youngsters of Ranchi Archdiocese in eastern India under the leadership of Archbishop Felix Toppo, SJ, and Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, SFX, launched a free lunch service for relatives of patients hospitalized in Ranchi's biggest hospital, Rajendra Institute of Integrated Medical Sciences.

The Ranchi Catholic Youth Association, led by its president Kuldip Tirkey, serves free packed hot lunch consisting of rice, lentils (dal), chicken, and vegetables along with bottles of mineral water to patients and their attendants.

"The Church will continue this service daily as long as it can as those attending the patients neither have the time nor resources to prepare a meal for themselves,” said Archbishop Felix.

"We are living in a very difficult time and the pandemic shows no signs of ebbing,” noted Bishop Theodore.

“At this moment, it is necessary to follow government rules and regulations of social distancing and public safety,” he added. 

He said the Church will continue to work for the poor “and we are able to help the needy only because of the generosity of good people who are contributing.”

The RIMS hospital in Ranchi is a government-run hospital that is mostly frequented by the poor.

In Gujarat State, Archbishop Thomas MacWan of Gandhinagar diocese, has written to the local government to offer space at Catholic schools and institutions to help the government set up care shelters for those with mild COVID infections.

In his letter to the District Magistrate, the archbishop mentioned that three hospitals in the diocese: Christ Hospital in Rajkot, Our Lady of Pillar hospital in Vadodra, and the Pillar Hospital in Sanand, are in the forefront in serving those infected with the disease.

Earlier, Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore (Bangaluru) met with the management of Christian hospitals to look into the challenges in managing operations, and offered to attach the nearest Catholic school to each hospital to set up as post-COVID care centers.

When the second wave of COVID-19 struck Karnataka state, the Christian Mission Hospitals joined hands with the State government in fighting the pandemic, deploying their resources, and those afflicted not only in Bangalore but also all over the State of Karnataka.