History in the making: Archbishop visits Gurudwara to confer the Diocesan Award of ‘Ubi Caritas‘ on a Sikh

Sewa Singh Mandla with Bhai Sahib Dr Mohinder Singh and Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham

Sunday 30th September 2012 was a historic occasion for Sikhs and Roman Catholics alike, as the Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, visited a landmark Sikh Gurudwara served by Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) on Soho Road, Handsworth to present Mr Sewa Singh Mandla the prestigious Ubi Caritas award.

Mr Sewa Singh Mandla became the first Sikh in history to be presented the Ubi Caritas award, in recognition of hisoutstanding selfless service for the love of God, to the Catholic Church and the communityHe is an active member of the interfaith community, a Vice-Chair of Religions for Peace U.K, Vice-Chair Perry Barr Constituency Strategic Partnership and a Member of the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group, amongst other roles.

The Archbishop and his delegates were welcomed by members of GNNSJ, who felt honored and humbled by his visit. The occasion presented an opportunity to offer prayer, celebrations and thanksgiving. The Archbishop paid his respects to Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the eternal Guru and highest authority of the Sikhs since 1708. 

The Archbishop of Birmingham pays his his respects to Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the eternal Guru and highest authority of the Sikhs since 1708.

Speaking at the event, Mr Mandla said “Today the Archbishop has made history  in coming to the Sikh Gurudwara to give to a Sikh the highest award he is personally mandated to give. We cannot thank him enough. We pray to God that he continues to serve in this manner.” He added “Your Grace, among the many virtues you have there is humility, kindness, love and genuine concern for the humanities’ suffering and pain. You are really a Peoples’ Archbishop.”

In his encouraging and inspiring message to the congregation, the Archbishop said: “This is a very joyful gathering, for it witnesses a moment of recognition and gratitude on the part of the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham for the dedication of a man of faith, who has discovered within himself and within the faith tradition that he represents, an openness to dialogue and a desire to deepen understanding and cooperation for the common good.

“Mandla Ji, you have committed considerable time and energy to the goals of interfaith understanding and a common witness to shared values. You have encouraged and promoted Sikh and Christian traditions to make progress on the pathway from mutual respect towards the deeper insight that friendship brings. Through your own witness and in your support of the spiritual leadership of Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, you have prompted us to work more closely together in service of others.”

He added “A dialogue requires willing partners and calls for a loving and generous response. In Bhai Sahib [Dr Mohinder Singh] and Mandla Ji, we have found such willing partners.”

Addressing the congregation, Chairman of GNNSJ and the Nishkam Centre, Bhai Sahib Dr Mohinder Singh said: The teachings of our ten Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib Ji provide Sikhs with an exemplary model for interfaith engagement. Sikhs believe in one God as the Creator, who pervades all creation. All beings are thus interconnected and interdependent in the infinite context of existence.” He quoted and translated the tenth Guru’s verse:Recognise the entire human race as one family. Live in a spirit of service to the One Creator; acknowledge One Universal Enlightener; accept that we are sparks of the same Infinite Divine Light, whose radiance is latent within us all’.

Bhai Sahib Dr Mohinder Singh addressing the congregation.

Bhai Sahib Ji added “To conclude, may we commit ourselves, in a spirit of friendship and co-operation, to continue to work together for a better world. Your Grace, you have been most kind and considerate for taking the time to join with us today. Sikhs invoke blessings for the welfare of all of God’s children at every prayer…thus promoting one’s own beliefs, but respecting and wishing well for all. This helps to bring about harmonious relationships in today’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural world. All Gurudwaras also have an open door policy because everyone should be made welcome in God’s house. Guru Granth Sahib Ji advocates that people should be strong in their respective, God-given faiths and help others to follow their own paths – with the common aim of sarbat da bhalla, the welfare of all.”

“Allow me to invite you to present the award of Ubi Caritas to Mr Sewa Singh Mandla, one of the elder pioneer members of our organisation who made history with the Turban Case of 1983, and is still an extremely active member of the congregation”.

Father Dominic read the citation inscribed on the award, “Where there is love and kindness, there is God”, before presenting it to Mr Mandla.

After the presentation of the prestigious Ubi Caritas award by the Archbishop to Mr Mandla, Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, presented saropey (robes of honour) to the Archbishop and his revered delegates. This was then followed by everyone partaking in the sharing of langar (vegetarian meal lovingly prepared by volunteers in the Guru’s Kitchen) before the guests bade farewell to the to the congregation present.   

To view Sewa Singh Mandla’s full statement please click here.

To view Bhai Sahib Dr Mohinder Singh’s full statement please click here.

To view the event brochure please click here.

To view photos from the event please click here.


Note to Editors

To arrange a media interview with Mr Sewa Singh Mandla, please contact him on 07980 44 8583 or email sewa.mandla@ncauk.org

1. Mr Sewa Singh Mandla is an active member in the interfaith community and holds the Pioneers Award from British Hafts and the award from SRB 6 for volunteer services. His work in promoting interfaith harmony has also been recognised by former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, for his services to the community.

Mr Sewa Singh Mandala’s roles in other organisations include:

  • Vice-ChairReligions for Peace U.K
  • Vice-Chair Perry Barr Constituency Strategic Partnership.
  • Chair Roger Hooker Memorial Trust.
  • Chair Council of Sikh Gurudwaras in Birmingham.
  • Member Lozells & East Hands worth Ward Advisory Board.
  • Member Birmingham Faith Leaders Group.
  • Trustee & Non-Executive member of Nishkam Civic Centre (Nishkam Centre or NCA)
  • Member Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ)
  • Former Chair  Birmingham Council of Faiths

2. Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) is a multi-faceted, faith based organisation practising and propagating the Sikh Dharma (faith) in the name of Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469-1539). It has been involved in selfless intra-faith work in Kenya and India informally since 1950, and formally in the UK since 1978 as a registered Charity through five centres for excellence in the inner-city depressed area of Handsworth, Birmingham, where its headquarters are based. GNNSJ also has sister organisations in Leeds and London (UK); as well as in Kericho (Kenya) and Delhi / Amritsar (India). Significant achievements have been made by GNNSJ in the conservation and restoration of historical Sikh shrines.

For more information, please visit www.ncauk.org

Released by: Nishkam Centre

Telephone: 0121 515 4229

Email: amrick.ubhi@ncauk.org


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