Sonntag, 21. September 2014

ധ്രുവദീപ്തി // Autobiography / Journey of a Missionary Priest. chapter-3 / Fr.George Pallivathukal



A collection of the experiences of fifty years of a Missionary Priest in central India. 

chapter III- Conti. / Fr. George Pallivathukal 

Major Seminary, St.Alberts College -Ranchi

St. Alberts College, Ranchi
In june 1955 six of us from St.Augustiane's Jabalpur were sent to the Major Seminary at Ranchi, Jharkhand. Bro. T.C.Joseph my childhood friend and companion was one of them.Bro.Joseph Thoyalil spent only a few months in the minor seminary a year earlier. So he became my senior in St. Albert's.

While I was studying in the second year of philosophy, in June 1955 my sister Mary joined the Sisters of St.joseph of Chambery, Sager. After a year of initial preparation she started her novitiate on the 8th of December 1956. That day she had her vestition and I was present for the occasion. For her new name in the congregation she added my name to her and was known as Sr.Mary George.

Fr. George and his two sisters
Life in the major seminary was quite different from the life in St.Augustine,Jabalpur. I did my three years of philosophy and four years of Theology at St. Albert's, Ranchi. We had some exemplary Jesuit priest teaching us in the seminary. They had made great impact on my life. One of them was Fr.Francis Ealen S.J. He was a saintly priest. He was our professor of philosophy, the seminary librarian and my spiritual director. I cannot forget priests like Fr. Herman, Fr. Jenicot, the great moral theologian and canonist, Jos De Cuyper, Mathijjis and O. Vercurysse to mention a few have greatly influenced me during my priestly formation. They were great men of knowledge and at the same time icons of humility and simplicity. They taught us more by their lives than by their lectures. We could be free with them, argue with them and even challenge them in the class.

 In Junwany- Regency.

After three years of philosophy course at St.Alberts Ranchi in June 1958 I was given one year of Regency. Regency is a period of practical experience and a time to get acquainted with the Missions. I was sent to Junwani, the remotest mission station of the diocese. From Jabalpur I took four days to reach the place.The missionaries working in those places used to walk or go on bicycle through the footpath to reach the destination That was the first time in my life that I walked such a long distance at a stretch.

I had with me a trible from junwani to show me the way and to carry my luggage. We started walking early in the morning from Sijhora, the last mission station where we could reach by bus in summer. After walking 25 km. we reached a village called Bhagdu, substation of Junwani. I could not walk a step further. So we decided to spend the night there. There was a hut close to the catechist's house for priest to stay when they came on their tour. The hut had an entrance but no door. The entrance was closed with a Bamboo mat. The catechist gave me a bed. On account of my fatigue and weary self I fell flat on the bed. The bed was so small that the part of my legs below the knee was outside the bed. Lying on my back I looked up on the roof.

I got a shock of my life. On the roof was the scale of a big snake. The reptile might have got up there to catch rats because that hut was full of rats. I went out the hut and told catechist about the danger of snake in the building. He took it very lightly and said "Oh that is nothing unusual. There are plenty of snakes around here because we are living close to a forest." He gave me a stick if a snake through the entrance or was seen on the roof. The snake would go away, he said.

 A poor man's meal.

I had some breakfast in the morning at Sijhora and started the daylong walk. On the way I had not eaten anything and I was very hungry. Towards the evening the catechist came and asked me whether I had brought anything to eat.I had nothing with me. So he brought me some food in a plate. That was a kind of grain called "Kodo" cooked with some dal. Kodo is the poor man's food in villages. I had never seen it before. I put some food into my mouth and I felt it tasteless and the grains would not go down my throat. My hunger was so intense that I was forced to eat a part of the food given to me. I would put a handful of cooked kodo into my mouth followed by a mouthful of water and the water would wash down the grain into my stomach. This was only the beginning.

 In Junwani, a place in 
Jabalpur Diocese 
After the meal I went to lie down on my mini bed. Rats had started their lovely game on the roof. The thought of snakes frightened me. One could fall on to me from the roof and another one could come in through the entrance which could not be closed tigt.I could not get sleep. I remember I said the act contrition with full faith because I was not sure whether I would be able to see the sunshine the next morning as I was surrounded by so much of danger to my life. I said my favorite prayer to Mother Mary, the" Memorare " a prayer taught by mother in my childhood. I knew that Mother Mary would protect me from the danger of snakebite. I had seen her pictures crushing the head of the serpent. Later I knew that it was not she but her "Seed" , her son who came down to crush the head of the serpent by his cross(Gen.3,15) I also knew that the mother was always with the son in the process of crushing the serpent's head. With this thought I fell asleep and I slept well.

The next morning the catechist gave me a cup of black tea and with that we started the last ten Kilometers of our journey. I took almost six hours to cover that distance on foot. When I reached Junwani Fr. Milo Der Kinderen O'pream, a Dutch Norbertine priest, the assistant in the parish welcomed me. As soon as I reached the house Fr.Milo gave me a glass of Enos fruit salt. I laughed at it and told him that I had no problem with my stomach, but Iwas hungry, I wanted something to eat. But he insisted that I should take that liquid offered to me because he said that when we walk a long distance, especially on an empty stomach we accumulate a lot of gas in the stomach and as soon as we come home we take some fruit salt to get rid of the gas, otherwise it could create problem in the stomach. This was an eye opener, a practical tip for my future. Fr.Milo was a person who had a lot of experience living in villages and he was known as a "Barefoot Missionary" because he never used to wear footwear./      

തുടരും - ധൃവദീപ്തി

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