Among the Poorest of the Poor
"Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation: and to keep one's self unspotted from this world."
Come Holy Spirit and anoint this post!
"Hands that serve the poor are greater than lips that say prayers." Mother Teresa's words that decorate the entrance to the parish rectory.
Until recently here in India, when a woman's husband died, the woman was burned alive. This custom was only stopped recently.
The heat today is almost unbearable- 111. Mostly the humidity is draining us of energy. But, the teachers are so eager to learn, so we die to ourselves and continue to teach. Meanwhile, our flesh would like to be in Canada where it is cool.
The apartment we are staying in is luxury here, while at home it would be the lowest of the low. Certainly, it would not meet code! It has AC in the bedroom, a refrigerator and running water (not drinkable). Though we are starving much of the time, we try not to complain, as most people here eat one meal a day.
Although they live in depravity, everyone in the 5 villages that make up the parish are tremendously hospitable. The pastor's mother and father run a daily feeding program for the elderly in their village. Mom does all the cooking, though elderly, with the help of her daughter.
Every day, we hear more heart wrenching stories. Today, a young man in the village died of cardiac arrest. It was because of the heat, although he was always sickly...you may have heard about the cobra infestation in our first house visit!
DARE TO BE A MISSIONARY PRIEST LIKE ME!
However, light is shining through the darkness- hallelujah. For one, there are so many priests and seminarians (500!) here, that they are closing down the seminary. It is too small! We have had the blessing of meeting many of these men, and can testify they are exceedingly wholesome, holy men with a heart to serve their people not only spiritually but seeking to help them rise out of poverty. Though there is much scandal about priests in the West, here we see nothing but prayerful and loving men of God. The Bishop himself is a man of great integrity and a great blessing to his priests here, who love him.
Men and women work side by side in the fields and city, no matter how high the heat (earlier in the week, it was 118°F). There are 1.6 million people in this city, and we see clearly the wealth gap, kept alive by the caste system. Either you are very rich, or destitute. And that is the "way it is." But, woe to those who do not seek to help when they see someone in need! (1 John 3:17)
Here, we see how the fourth caste suffers- the untouchables, the "dalith." The Christians, especially the Catholics, are the poorest and most oppresses of society. They are not allowed to live in the cities, and are forced to live on the outskirts of town. All the parishioners here are workers in the field, serfs in this remaining feudal system.
Yet, it is the children who have stolen our hearts. The pictures speak for themselves.
We pray and hope the Lord will put on your hearts the desire and ability to help us in this mission. Even $5 goes a long way. When you sow a seed into this mission in India, you will be supporting a truly Catholic mission of mercy and compassion, and we know the Lord will bless you a thousand-fold.
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