While it’s not common for Father General Arturo Sosa to speak to an audience of children or walk in the Garden of Eden, he did so on 6th March during his visitation to the Region of Kohima. The “Garden of Eden” hospitality centre was founded more than 40 years ago and provides shelter for some 200 young people from very poor backgrounds - many of them orphans - as well as a favourable environment to study, play and pray. Here is what Father General shared with them.
My dear children,
“Eden Garden”, the beautiful name that Father Stany Coelho appropriately chose for this home, is found in the very first book of the Bible: “God planted a garden in Eden, in the east.” (Gen 2:8). I am delighted to be with you in this beautiful Eden Garden today.
I have come to participate in the Golden Jubilee of Kohima Jesuit Region. Eden Garden is among the first initiatives taken by the founders of this Mission, for the service of the people in this region. They realised that education is the foundation of any human development, and that a large number of children in this area had no opportunity to get a proper education. Sacred Heart School, with Eden Garden as the children’s home, was their response to this keenly felt need.
Your education in this Jesuit institution must prepare you for life, opening your minds to wider horizons beyond mere self-interest. Coming from diverse tribal, linguistic and religious backgrounds to live together as one family, already now, when you are young, you learn to understand and accept, love and support each other. If well integrated, this diversity is a rich gift, not a threat to true unity. (...)
Jesuit education gives you the opportunity to discover and develop your varied hidden talents: mind and heart, leadership qualities, arts & sports, music and dancing, and so many other gifts with which God has blessed you. I have witnessed now for myself what I have often heard: that Nagas are highly gifted in singing and dancing. (...)
Dear young friends, the name of your home, ‘Eden Garden’, is a constant reminder to you, of the beautiful original garden God planted in Eden at the very beginning of creation: with flowering and fruit-bearing trees, clear water to drink, and clean healthy air to breathe. God’s gift of love to Adam and Eve, intended for all human beings of all generations. But, as you know, today this original blessing of God’s creation is badly damaged. Our common home – mother earth – is groaning with pain, because of human greed and overconsumption, irresponsible use and abuse of God’s gifts.
We all have a common responsibility to change this. Everyone of you can and must take this as an essential dimension of your education. I know that Naga people live close to nature, and that you hold in great reverence everything around you. This is my special message and appeal to you today. Eden Garden and Sacred Heart School will set an example to others, – avoiding use of plastics and other toxic material, preventing water sources and streams from being polluted, planting more trees to give us clean air, using sparingly everything God has given us, helping your homes and villages to be kept clean. With your own creative talents, you will discover many other ways to save our planet from disaster.