The students of the Jesuit Formation Center for Theology (JFCT), Ranchi made a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Servant of God and martyr, Fr. Herman Rasschaert, SJ to Kutungia in Simdega Diocese of Jharkhand, as part of their course on Islam and Christian-Muslim Dialogue.
The Church of Chotanagpur reveres Herman Rasschaert, SJ, as an apostle of peace and martyr for communal harmony. According to the account of Louis Francken, SJ: “In 1964 there were serious Hindu- Muslim conflicts in Eastern India, including Jharkhand. The impact of these disturbances spread even to the rural areas and the isolated villages in Kutungia were also caught up in the conflict. On the morning of March, the 24th 1964 Fr. Herman could hear the frenzied cries of mobs attacking the small hamlet of Muslim families in Gerda. Fr. Herman Rasschaert put his life at stake in an attempt to save the lives of Muslim families under siege. The frenzied mob killed him and all the people who had taken refuge in this hamlet.”
Fr. George Valentine Ekka, the parish priest of Kutungia, where the martyr lies buried, highlighting the relevance of Fr. Rasschaert’s martyrdom for our times, said – “The promotion of Justice and transformation of the world is the constitutive dimension of the evangelizing mission of the Church. Defending the dignity and lives of human persons is integral to the mission of the Church. Fr. Rasschaert’s martyrdom continues to inspire us to defend the dignity and lives of people in the present context.”
Ajay Paulus Minz, SJ