KERALA – Hundreds of Muslim worshipers in a mosque in the south Indian state of Kerala were taken by surprise when a Catholic priest took the podium to thank Muslims for help during floods, Hindustan Times reported Monday.
“I cannot express my gratitude to them in words. That much help and support they had extended during the time of difficulties,” Father Sanu Puthussery, belonging to the Syro-Malabar Church, told congregants at the Juma Masjid at Vechoor in Kottayam district during jum’ah (Friday prayers) on August 31.
The Catholic priest addressed members of the Muslim community, thanking them for selflessly feeding the flood victims who had taken shelter at his church.
During last month’s floods, over 580 people sought refuge at St Antony’s Church at Achinakom where Father Puthussery was serving as the priest.
One day after opening their doors, the church faced a shortage of food and water.
“I straightaway went to the Masjid, apprised the Maulvi [imam] about our difficulty and requested his help. After the day’s prayers, Muslim brothers came to the church with a large quantity of food and water,” Father Puthussery said.
After the appeal, Muslims continued to bring essential items to the relief camp at the church, which included food, water, and medicines.
“I went to the Masjid to meet the Maulvi and other authorities and thank them personally. But they invited me to their prayer hall and offered me their platform to speak…,” the priest said.
In his about 10-minute speech, the Catholic priest said, though the floods had snatched away many valuables from people, it also washed away the walls of differences among them.
“Pope Francis had said build bridges, not walls. The devastating floods have now given us an opportunity to destroy the walls and build the bridges of togetherness,” the priest added.
Beginning in July 2018, severe floods affected Kerala, due to unusually high rainfall during the monsoon season.
The floods, the worst in Kerala in nearly a century, left 483 dead and 14 missing. At least a million people were also evacuated.