Nagpur: The Daughters of St Paul in Nagpur spent a day with poor families in a remote Catholic parish in central India to add the mission of mercy to their patron’s feast.
“We normally celebrate the feast of St Paul with our friends and benefactors in the parish where we stay. During the Year of Mercy, recalling the exhortation of Pope Francis, we decided to reach out to the less privileged, in different ways,” Sr Stella Pereira, superior of the Nagpur convent, told Matters India.
Although the feast was on June 29, the nuns chose July 3, a Sunday, to celebrate it with some 100 families Holy Family Church of Padri Thana (abode of priests). All the families in the parish territory are Catholics.
The parishioners cannot spare time on weekday because they are daily wagers. Even on Sunday they go to work in fields.
The Poor Servants of Divine Providence (PSDP) priests manage the 150-year-old parish, assisted by four different religious congregations. “It is a poor parish in the suburb of Nagpur, in the Archdiocese of Nagpur,” Sister Pereira explained.
She said the feast offered them an occasion to tell those families that “we recognize them as our brothers and sisters in Christ; to share the life and ministry of St Paul.”
The nuns organized priti bjoj (fraternal meal) for the families and screened a film to educate them about the congregation’s charism and the purpose of choosing media of communication for proclaiming the Gospel.
“We have not shared with them from abundance but from our poverty because we wanted to bring some joy into their lives,” Sr Pereira explained the reason for sharing the meal with the parishioners.
PSDP priests and sisters helped organized the program that included Mass celebrated by five priests.
In his homily parish priest Fr Saneesh Kudilil spoke of the struggles and hardships saints such as Paul, Peter and Thomas had to undergo to preach the Gospel. “Jesus knew them well. He called Paul even though he was against Christians. Once Jesus had chosen him he gave them the grace. The apostles continued to learn from their master how to forgive and how to be kind.”
The priest also said nothing is impossible if done in the name of Jesus.
The celebration also included an action song “on the love of God” by the candidates of the Daughters of St Paul.
The Holy Family parish that completed 150 years in 2014, is the second parish of Nagpur archdiocese of Nagpur. The church was built in 1864 by Fransalian Father Balmand who was sent by Bishop John Mary Tissot of Vishakpattnam to Nagpur, an unknown place until then.
Since the priest stayed in the place, it got the name Padri Thana. He bought more than 1,200 acres of land from the government, which was later distributed to the families that had come to settle down here. The famine of 1896-1897 left behind some 800 orphans. The present 100 families in the parish are the descendants of those orphans, Fr Mathew Kunnathumattam, another PSDP priest explained.
The Poor Servants of Divine Providence Brothers came to the area in 1995 and the PSDP sisters joined them a year later. The mission began to progress faster since then.
The parish set up St. Joseph Medical Centre in 2001 and Divine Providence School in 2008. In 2005 archdiocese entrusted the parish to the PSDP congregation.
Other congregations working in the parish are Sacred Heart Sisters, Assisi Sisters of Mary Immaculate and Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King.