Tribute to single mom of faith, grace, strength
A young widow in Bombay, Corinne Rodrigues, did not let the hardships of life overtake her. Through her faith, grace and strength Rodrigues built a wide scale movement for widows, administered to the needy and faced an earthquake…all while raising three boys.
Corinne Rodrigues, single mom and parish activist, proves you can have it all.
Rodrigues, founder president of the Hope and Life Movement of the Archdiocese of Bombay, inspired many in her community while being a single mother of three.
Rodrigues’s husband died in 1975, leaving the young widow with three young boys to take care of. She did not let the odds deter her and she nurtured the faith and vocations of her sons.
All three grew up to become priests: Father Savio is a parish priest in Mumbai, Father Luke SJ is vice provincial of the Jesuits in Bombay province and Bishop John, the youngest, is rector of the Basilica of Mount Mary’s in Bandra, Mumbai.
Rodrigues was a remarkable woman of faith and grace, whose life and mission was one of service as a teacher, a wife, a mother and a widow.
“Mum made sacrifices and taught us to make sacrifices,” Savio told Crux in an interview. Her “sensitivity and ability to reach out to those in need were remarkable: visiting the sick in the hospital, purchasing groceries for a home-bound person, babysitting, organizing programs and outreaches for the widows … a generosity and zeal that was inspirational and motivating.”
Rodrigues and her husband were actively involved in the parish and were both members of the Christian Family Movement (CFM), a network of small parish families, in the 1960’s.
Savio describes his parents as “a very loving couple” involved in the community and even in charge of recruiting couples for Marriage Encounters, couple religious retreats.
After the death of her husband, Rodrigues remained highly active in the life of the parish. In 1985 the Archdiocesan Seminary of Bombay had the first official meeting of the Hope and Life Movement, a support group for widows.
Ten widows formed the core group of the movement and Rodrigues was appointed as the first founder president.
Under the dynamic leadership of Rodrigues the movement grew over the years, extending its scope and activities.
In 1993 the Latur earthquake struck India, killing more than 10,000 people and injuring about 30,000.
In order to respond to the crisis the movement extended its outreach initiatives, including visiting old and crumbling homes, giving financial assistance to families in Mumbai, and even helping to rebuild the dilapidated homes of needy widows.
The Hope and Life movement also contributed generously to the Church’s Earthquake Relief Fund.
The work of Rodrigues and the movement spread through the country and before long Mumbai parishes started Hope and Life inspired parish units.
Through her union with God in prayer, Rodrigues “was able to discern what God wanted of her through the various stages of her life,” Savio said. “Her Love for the Lord gave her the ability to see God’s hand in the ups and downs of life, and her ability to adapt to situations.”
In 2015, on the 30th Anniversary of the Hope and Life Movement, Rodrigues’s son the Bishop John Rodrigues, presided over the celebration. During his speech he told those gathered that for Rodrigues Jesus was the ultimate spouse.
“Jesus was the rock guiding us to face all our trials, sorrows and pains with ease,” the bishop said. It was “constantly being aware of God’s presence, the atmosphere of prayer in our home, and the contact that we had with priests, that I believe channelled us to find our calling.”
Rodrigues died in 2000 leaving a large legacy in her parish as well as three consecrated sons who continue to serve the community inspired by their mother’s teachings.