A Catholic priest in India spoke to a Muslim congregation on Friday to thank them for bringing food, water, and medicines for the more than 500 people who sought shelter in his church amid devastating flooding in Kerala in recent weeks.
Severe rains led to flash floods and landslides in Kerala in recent months, with some 400 people killed and more than 1 million displaced from their homes.
Press Trust of India reported that more than 580 people took refuge at Fr. Sanu Puthussery’s St. Antony’s parish in Achinakom, and the church soon ran out of food and water.
“I straightaway went to the Masjid, apprised the maulvi 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,” Fr. Puthussery told PTI.
“Pope Francis had said build bridges, not walls. The devastating floods has now given us an opportunity to destroy the walls and build the bridges of togetherness,” Fr. Puthussery told the 250 Muslims Aug. 31 at the Juma Masjid in Vechoor, about 15 miles northwest of Kottayam, during Friday prayers.
“I cannot express my gratitude to them in words,” the priest said, for the “help and support they had extended during the time of difficulties.”
He said youth of the mosque had also brought medicine to his parish.
Fr. Puthussery said he had gone to thank the Muslim leaders personally, but that “they invited me to their prayer hall and offered me their platform to speak. It was a rare gesture of togetherness.”
Those now returning to their flooded homes in the southwestern Indian state are encountering snakes and insects, contaminated water, and ruined crops.
Water-borne diseases are now a threat to Keralites. The state has declared a health alert, after 11 people died of leptospirosis, the BBC reported.