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INAUGURATION OF VENDRAME INSTITUTE OF RURAL TRAINING & ANIMATION (VIRTA)
By Daniel D M Cajee SDB
Shillong, Feb. 26. Mawpdang:The Inauguration and the Blessing of the Vendrame Institute of Rural Training and Animation on the 15 February in Mawpdang.
The programme began at 10:00 am with the Holy Eucharist presided over by Archbishop Dominic Jala and concelebrated by fifteen concelebrants. At the very outset of the liturgical celebration Fr. George Maliekal, the Provincial of INS, blessed the new infrastructure accompanied by the Archbishop, the eleven friends from San Martino (Italy) and other dignitaries.  The ribbon at the entrance was cut by Mr. Giovanni. In his homely the Archbishop explicitly elaborated on the corporal works of mercy and highlighted the need to practise them well, especially in this year of mercy. After the Mass, Shri A.L Hek, Minister of Health and IT, inaugurated the Computer centre and Shri. David Nongrum, the local MLA, launched the VIRTA website. A fellowship meal ensued thereafter.

At around 1:00 pm there was a Cultural programme. Shri A.L Hek was the Chief Guest of the function. Archbishop Domini Jala and Shri. David Nongrum were the guests of honour.  The programme began with a song by the youth of Mawpdang exulting Father Vendrame. Father Provincial addressed the august gathering and stated that the dream of Father Vendrame to cater to the needs of the young people has been finally materialized through VIRTA. Each of the dignitaries and invited guests were garlanded with flowers and honoured with 'jai� ryndia'. Then the Choral Evangelist performed their special rendition to praise and eulogize Rev. Fr Vendrame ''our beloved apostle''. The young people of Ryngksaw entertained everyone with the plate dance of the Jaintias.
The Archbishop also spoke at the function and exhorted the young people to be not only people with degrees but also with skills in order to get employment. After his speech the youth of Siejong excellently replicated the Mizo bamboo dance which ended with a thunderous applause. Mr. Giovanni, a representative of the Italian Government, expressed his joy at the grandeur of the function and said that VIRTA connects the Italian people and the Khasi people. To gracefully mark the event he also handed a souvenir to Father Barnes, the director of VIRTA. Shri. David Nongrum addressed the audience and assured everyone that the Tourism department of the Government of Meghalaya would work jointly with the institute to promote the welfare of the people. In his speech, Shri A.L. Hek extolled Rev. Father Vendrame and said that ''he is not only a missionary but also a visionary''. Apart from other items the sparkling dance of the children of Mawpdang, to the tune of 'Brazil' by the Vengaboys, enthralled everyone. Fr. Barnes proposed the vote of thanks and the function culminated with light refreshment.
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