By Lissy Maruthanakuzhy
Rome, May 20, 2019: Sister Carmel Madathiparampil began working in Africa as a missionary since 1993.
That was the year, the Daughters of St Paul, started the African mission project to commemorate the birth centenary of Servant of God Thecla Merlo, who founded the congregation along with Blessed James Alberione. It also coincided with Madathiparampil’s 25 years in the congregation. While in India, she worked in Mumbai, Delhi, Secunderabad and Shillong.
She began her African mission as community animator of Zambia. She shared with Lissy Maruthanakuzhy about her work in Africa.
MATTERS INDIA: It is 25 years since you have been working in Africa. Why did you choose this mission?
MADATHIPARMPIL: In 1993, our congregation decided to launch a missionary project – open 15 new communities in countries where we were not yet present.
Mother Tecla (Merlo) birth centenary fell on February 20, 1994 and to prepare for it our general government sent an invitation to whole congregation inviting volunteers
The countries chosen were: Angola, China, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ivory Coast, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Uruguay, Vietnam, and Zambia.
I was among many sisters who responded. I was chosen for Zambia. I was excited. But I had to search the world map to find its location. I was thrilled to go to Africa.
I felt a new enthusiasm surging in me, like the one I experienced when I first decided to become a Daughter of St. Paul. I truly wanted to be a true daughter of St. Paul, emulating the saint’s apostolic zeal. Like him I wanted to go to the whole world and proclaim the Good News of Jesus.
I always experience new challenges in my mission in Africa. I see in the people of Africa a great thirst for the Word of God and for spiritual matters. The more I see this thirst, the greater is my response to respond. Like St. Paul who made himself all things to all people, nothing can stop me from spending myself in the mission.
What are your activities in Africa?
I had been taking care of our book centers, which I have realized, are truly centers of light and life, radiating the Gospel Light.
How do you find African people?
The African people are very welcoming of missionaries. They are very respectful, generous, supportive, kind hearted, ready to collaborate, open and receptive. They are ready to go an extra mile to help you. They have a great regard for the Pauline Mission and find our book centers a place of great spiritual food. Without our presence, many countries would have no way of getting Bibles and spiritual books.
Zambia was my first love in Africa. Then I moved to Kenya, Tanzania and now in Nigeria since 2010. I have also visited Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic. I feel proud to be an African missionary.
Tell us something about your family.
I was born to Madathiparampil Joseph and Mariam in Ayamkudy village in Kottayam district [Kerala]. I was the tenth among 13 children. Two children died as infants. We were 7 boys and 4 girls. Our parents were devout Catholics and imparted to us their simple faith and prayer life. God chose 3 boys and 4 girls to work in His vineyard, two as priests, one as a Jesuit Brother and four girls as nuns. There is another sister in the Daughters of St Paul and two sisters are in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament [founded in Kerala]. Two priests are for Palai diocese but they work in Germany. Most of us are missionaries. My parents are now enjoying life with God, after giving many children to his service. Three of them have joined them in heaven.
What do you have for young people as you celebrate 50 years of religious profession?
My message to the young people: Enjoy living for Christ and for His people. One will never regret it. It is worth giving your life to serve Christ our King. He will hold us up in good times and bad times, in good health and in sickness.