Sisters of Saint Joseph of Annecy

Panbari is a new mission station in Assam, in the Diocese of Bongaigaon, North East India. Geographically it is blessed with fertile land, greenery and small streams. There are fifty Catholic families in our two year old Parish which was once part of Bigine Parish, thirty km away. We came here on 18th Feb. 2014 and were initially housed in a small room behind the Church. We were glad of one another’s company as we were truly “out of our comfort zone". Initially our food was provided by the Parish Priest and we enjoyed dining together. We now live in the newly erected Convent building which is situated a short distance away. The land has been allotted to us by the M.S.F.S Fathers. The Sisters work in the small English medium school which opened in the same month we arrived. It is run by the MSFS Fathers and at present there are forty five students.      

Panbari is a valley village of Mount Himalaya and so most people in the area belong to the Bodo tribe. However, it is interesting to know that many different tribes and cultures live together here. The official language of the state is Assamese but people from the Bodo tribe speak Boro.   These are in the majority.   A few Garos are also here and they speak Garo.   Bengalis who speak Bengla are also part of the village. Since the Boro speaking community is in the majority, we are earnestly trying to learn the language and so we have attended the language course conducted by the Diocese. Because the people are well aware that their language is not similar to the official language they try to understand our gestures and "broken languages”, thus easing our tension.

They are the first generation to be instructed in the Faith but their firmness and generosity with regards to time, energy and material support, surprise us .They come regularly to Sunday services and on Holy Days of Obligation and are faithful to the Sacraments. They love celebration and have a great community spirit. People are hard working and, like in most parts of rural India, agriculture is their main occupation. Their main food is rice and they enjoy pork which is known as “oma”. All have their own pigs and most of them grow their own vegetation; they catch fish from the small streams which abound. Men, women, children and even the old, all go fishing. We too had the pleasure of fishing on a certain Sunday, and we were greeted with joyful faces. The environment here is so clean that we don’t feel any pollution in our surroundings. Fresh air, water and food is cherished most of all. We thank God for having brought us to this mission and we pray that we will be able to continue to be channels of grace and peace to the people. United with you in prayers                                                                                                                                                   Panbari Community