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A graduate from the Jesuit Refugee Service-supported teacher training course is now teaching in a Kachin village in Myanmar. Photo sourced from Jesuit Conference of Asia-Pacific website.

Around Asia – Jan 14, 2020

INDIA Work began on the nation’s tallest statue of Jesus in the southern India despite objections by Hindu groups who say one of their gods lives on the hill designated for the project. The statue will be 30m tall on 10 acres of land owned by the Archdiocese of Bangalore. Once completed, the statue would be almost as tall as Poland’s 33m Christ the King statue, believed to be the tallest statue of Jesus in the world

PHILIPPINES The Society of the Divine Word (SVD) seminary in Tagaytay City has opened its doors for those who need shelter following the phreatic eruption of Taal Volcano. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has raised Alert Level 4 over Taal Volcano which means that “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.”

VIETNAM The Tan Hoa parishioners in Cu Kuin district donated their land and collected fund that come up to more than US$300,000 to pave the roads up to 10km. This is to give their area, which is in the more rural part of the country, a facelift.

TAIWAN Spanish Jesuit priest Fr Andrés Díaz de Rábago received the 2019 Outstanding Person Award from the Spanish government for his dedication to the Catholic community in Taiwan. He is 102 years old.

JAPAN The small minority of believers are looking to connect with the church but the clergy is not as internet-savvy as it ought to be. Although the country is technologically advanced, the priest sadly are not.

CHINA The authorities subjected Catholic believers to increased persecution by demolishing churches, removing crosses, and continuing to detain underground clergy. Religious persecution has increased rapidly over the past year.

THAILAND Catholic missionaries came to Thailand 350 years ago and last year the fruits of their labour were on display and the descendants of their followers came together to celebrate the anniversary.

MYANMAR The Jesuit Refugee Service has prepared hundreds of educators and works with local partners to fill gaps in education for internally displaced and vulnerable children, that is refugee children.

CAMBODIA The Catholic Church opened two new Catholic schools, one primary and one secondary, in the southwestern province of Takéo, on the border with Vietnam last year. Msgr. Olivier Schmitthaeusler, apostolic vicar of Phnom Penh, presided at the inauguration ceremony where he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Sahametrei for his commitment in the field of education. This is conferred on foreigners who have rendered distinct services to the king and the people of Cambodia.

BANGLADESH Fr Philip Tushar Gomes is the first priest from Bakshanagar, a village in Dhaka division, since Christianity came to the area 250 years ago. The 37-year-old was ordained on Jan 3.

IRAN Catholic leaders and organizations have condemned a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3 and the saber-rattling between the United States and Iran it has provoked.

IRAQ Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, who heads Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic community, cautioned leaders to think about the human costs of “emotional and impulsive decisions” in the wake of a US airstrike in Baghdad that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

SYRIA Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town on the Nineveh Plains, is “slowly returning” to what it was before the invasion of ISIS in the summer of 2014, which triggered a mass exodus of the region’s Christians to Kurdistan. Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan said this when celebrating Mass in Mosul’s rebuilt Syriac Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation. It was the first Mass said there in more than five years.

KYRGYZSTAN The Catholic minority of less than 1,000 faithful is growing. Christianity came to Kyrgyzstan in the 7th century thanks to the Nestorian heretics but conquests and political upheaval got in the way. Now there’s a renewed thirst for Christ.