My very recent mission exposure in the Northern part of India has refreshed my mind and heart and called forth the pastoral experience of Father Guanella in the remote mountain areas of his time. We have been working to plant our Charism in order to also reach out to the least of our brothers and sisters in the North. We have sent two of our Deacons namely Achariyam and Anil to prepare a seed ground and to have an immersion in the mission in learning the language and to study the ambience. After a few months of the experience, both have come back with a missionary zeal and great enthusiasm.
They were in the Ambikapur Diocese, Chhattisgarh state among the tribal converts and here, the missionaries are active among the tribal communities, Catholics are poor farmers, and one of the challenges is providing education because the local literacy rate is less than 50%. In fact, when I met the bishop, his interest is to offer educational possibilities to the poor children in order to eradicate illiteracy.
It is God’s providence that I was accompanied by one of my parishioners Fr. Aruldoss, a missionary priest, who has been working vibrantly in the Raipur Archdiocese for the past 23 years. Raipur is the capital of the state of Chhattisgarh, called the “Rice bowl of India” where the great Indian rivers run through this region. The Raipur Archdiocese is the largest diocese with a large territory in the state. The mission was started by the French missionaries of St. Francis de Sales. The priests and religious working here hail mostly from the southern India state of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the neighboring tribal dioceses.
Missionaries engage themselves in the pastoral care of the migrant Catholics and work for the uplifting of the socio, economic and religious needs of the people. There are many religious congregations involved in running schools, dispensaries, and social welfare programs to all irrespective of faith.
I have visited many mission centers and institutions but they do not have homes for people with developmental disabilities and when I pronounced our congregation to them it was new. I had an appointment with the archbishop of Raipur and briefed him about our mission and he will discuss this with his priests’ council and give his reply to possibly start our mission.
As two of our soon-to-be priests were designated by Providence to have this beautiful experience and witnessing the people’s life style with simple faith, let us try to change our attitude and enhance the qualities of the missionary by “Speeding up and not let the worry of any earthly thing hold us back.” We hear many talks about the missions and attend exposure camps but our life experience is different sometimes in our communities.
Mission is mainly an affair of the heart! I heard from the missionary priests, “This is my diocese/congregation, I will die for this mission and people.” There is a natural attachment to the place and people. We tend to rely on the possibilities of a maximum life of comfort and updating the latest arrival of modern technology. Let us throw our mind and heart into our mission and the offer to us of accepting the challenge of the mission in the New Areopagi! My heartfelt wishes go to the 10 New Evangelizers from the Divine Providence Province who will be ordained on August 22, 2014!
Fr. Soosai Rathinam