A Catholic priest in South India washed the feet of a Muslim, women among others, to promote interreligious harmony at the Maundy Thursday ceremony, April 14, 2022.
Father Joseph Eucharist, 51, the parish priest of St. Anne's Church belonging to the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore, washed the feet of a Muslim girl at the Maundy Thursday Ceremony in Nesapakkam, Tamil Nadu, South India.
Like the 12 disciples, he decided to include three girls, three women, three boys, and three men.
The purpose of including women in the group was to promote the equality and dignity of women in society.
“An invitation to a Muslim girl in her traditional outfit made for a fine example of religious tolerance. It helped to show the welcoming face of the Church following the model of the second Vatican council,” Father Eucharist told RVA News.
When asked why he thought of adding a girl from another religion as a part of the ceremony of the washing of the feet, he said, “Taking inspiration from Pope Francis to include women in the ceremony, I also wanted to make it even more special by adding a girl from another religion.”
The parishioners of St. Anne's Church responded well to the proposal of the priest, who has been the parish priest for the last five years.
“I am well supported by my parishioners in all the activities I take on for the future. People were happy to accept this plan when I proposed to include Muslim girl in the ceremony of the washing of the feet,” he said.
The Muslim girl’s parents accepted the invitation to partake in the ceremony after explaining the importance of the day. In Maundy Thursday celebrations, a Muslim girl came in with her hijab and participated both in the Holy Mass and the procession of the Mass.
She also read the Prayer of the Faithful during the Mass, which was unique in the fact that she began it with their prayer in Urdu language and continued in the Tamil language.
“In appreciation, I provided her with a Hijab and a Quran for her elder brother. The parishioners welcomed her and her family,” said Father Eucharist.
More than 450 families and 2700 people participated in the Maundy Thursday Celebration.
‘With us, for us’ was the main theme of the celebration.
The homilist also highlighted the present social issues and people’s response to them in the model of Jesus.
He also emphasized, saying, “As we partake in the priesthood of Jesus, let us also respond as Jesus would do to these issues modelled after the second Vatican council being one with the Church.” – With additional reporting by Budhali Prakash
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