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Father Busolin Battista SDB laid to rest
By Father Bivan R. Mukhim SDB
Guwahati, Dec. 27. The mortal remain of Father Busolin Battista SDB who passed away on morning of 24th December was laid to rest in the Salesian cemetery at Bosco Mount, Rongkhon Tura on 26th December. A large number of faithful people gathered around the remain of the valiant missionary of the Garo Hills to bid tearful adieu. The Holy Mass was celebrated by Bishop Andrew Marak, Bishop of Tura and concelebrated by Bishop George Mamalassary, Bishop Emeritus of Tura, Father VM Thomas, Provincial of Guwahati, Father George Maliekal, Provincial of Shillong Province and a number of priests. A large gathering of sisters and religious were also seen.  
The sea of people congregated at the Sacred Heart Shrine in Tura Chandmari on Monday to pay their last respects during the funeral service of Father Busolin said it all. From Shallang in West Khasi Hills to Damra in Assam and Rongjeng in East Garo Hills, many of those who had been touched by his good deeds did not forget as they congregated for the last farewell to Father Busolin.

Bishop Andrew R Marak, Bishop of Tura, gave the complete picture when he said, "Father Busolin was a man of God who welcomed anyone and everyone. From the leper he helped to the young child he took under his wings to provide education, he was beyond caste creed or colour. For him preaching the word of God was his life and he never faltered despite coming face to face with many challenges in life."

Bishop Andrew himself was once a Catechist under Father Busolin. Bishop Emeritus George Mamalassary who worked for five long years (1960-65) with Father Busolin in Tura conducted the last rite. "Today I have lost a very dear friend and member of the Church who touched the lives of many. I hope and pray the younger generation will emulate the life of Father Busolin," said the Bishop Emeritus.

The younger son of Late P.A Sangma and Tura MP Conrad K Sangma, together with his brother James and the family, were there at Father Busolin's funeral service to bid adieu to the missionary who became a part of their family. In the words of Conrad Sangma, "Father Busolin was a father figure to my dad. Today we stand where we are because of our late father Mr. Sangma and Father Busolin." He narrated the story of how Father Busolin brought his father to study in Tura.

"Absence of a high school coupled with poverty and the sudden death of his father, the young Sangma was staying with his mother when Father Busolin spotted him during one of his visits to the village. He convinced the family to let Sangma return with him to Tura so that he could pursue his studies. They walked for long days before arriving in Tura and the rest is history," he said.

Other who spoke at the funeral service included Father George Maliekal, Provincial Shillong Province, representatives of the MSFS, North East Province, the Salesian sisters, Shillong Province, Missionaries of Christ Jesus (MCJ), the clergy of the diocese of Tura, those supported by Father Busolin, the representative of Rongjeng Parish which Father Busolin started and a boarding student of Don Bosco College, Tura.

Father VM Thomas, Provincial thanked all those who helped Father Busolin in his last days. "Father Busolin lived with joy and enthusiasm. He proclaimed the good news, baptized thousands and brought life, joy and peace to the lives of these people. He lived in serenity and peace in the demanding days of his old age, and passed away peacefully into the Father's house. May he enjoy now the joys of heaven, and intercede for us all, particularly for the mission of Garo hills."

"In the last 66 years of his priestly life, he has crisscrossed the entire length and breadth of the Garo Hills hundreds of times, often sleeping in village houses, walking up to 40 kms a day, sometimes on an empty stomach, through hills and valleys, eating what was set before him without complaint, braving cold, heat, rain, dust, mosquitoes, rats, cockroaches, leeches and flies. Accepting the vicissitudes of life with a sporting spirit, with a smile on his lips and a prayer in his heart, forgetting self, he put himself totally at the service of God and of the people, "Father VM Thomas added "Father Busolin has brought faith and hope into the lives of thousands of people, has baptized over 20,000 including the young and old. He has constructed numerous schools, churches, chapels, dispensaries, sent several young people to become priests, nuns and catechists (one of his catechists is today the Bishop of Tura), has educated thousands of students, many of whom are now holding responsible positions in society. Don Bosco College, Tura, is a monument to his vision and commitment to the development of the Church and of the society in Garo Hills."

Many person fought back tears listening to the host of dignitaries narrating their life's experience and help rendered by the last Italian priest who made Garo Hills his permanent home. Father Busolin had been an architect of both men and institutions. He established the Rongjeng parish where he served for well over two decades. With an earnest desire to cater to both the physical and academic well-being of the people of his adopted home, Father Busolin helped build numerous schools, youth centres, health centres and dispensaries.

Two of Tura's landmark institutions, Don Bosco College and Don Bosco College of Teacher Education are monuments of his vision and commitment to the development of the Church and society in Garo Hills. A man with a contagious sense of well-being and a childlike simplicity, Father Busolin's personality brings to mind Hillare Belloc's words: "To get the heart of a child is surely the end of any religion". To Father Busolin like Robert Browning's Pippa, "God's in his heaven-All's right with the world". If things are not, then God would send a Father Busolin again to redeem the world and the men who live there.

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