Samstag, 11. Oktober 2014

Autobiography : Journey of a Missionary priest / Rev.Fr. George Pallivathukal.- (Continuation)

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

 "I told them "cleanliness is next to Godliness", a healthy mind can exist only in a healthy body ( Mens sana in corpore sano.). A proper bath, washing the cloths clean, keeping the rooms and the surroundings clean and tidy etc. are a part of it. Make the virtue of cleanliness a habit in their lives so that they would continue that habit at home and teach others about the sanctity of cleanliness of the body, the heart and the soul when their turn comes." / Fr.George Pallivathukal

chapter III- Conti. /

-Burner River -in Body, Mind, and Soul.

Life in Junwani Mission.

I reached Junwani in May 1958. The summer heat was unbearable. There was no electricity in the village. I was given a Kerosene Lamp. For the common use in the church and in the house we had a Gas Light. There were two priest, Fr. Otto Paymans and Milo, both Dutch Norbertines working in that mission. I was briefed about both of them before I reached the place. I was told that Fr. Milo was an approachable person while Fr. Paymans was hot tempered and unapproachable.
In School and Boarding.
Rev.Fr.George Pallivathukal
My job during Regency was to be a full time teacher in the Middle School and to look after the boy's boarding. I taught English and Sanskrit in all the middle school classes. While doing Philosophy course in Ranchi Seminary we had the opportunity to learn Sanskrit and French as optional Subjects. I had joined both these classes. My little knowledge of Sanskrit became handy in the school because there was nobody else to teach that language to the students. While teaching English and Sanskrit I learned Hindi from the students. Being with these children I had learned that they were as intelligent as children anywhere else and when given the correct motivation and opportunity they could as well as their counterparts in the city who have the money and all the facilities they needed. While minding the studies of the students in the evening I used to give them extra classes in my subjects, giving them more than what was in the text book. The day scholars from the village also willingly came to the boarding during the evening study time and benefited from the extra classes given to them because they all wanted to learn and "become somebody in life."  

The boys ware fond of games and they were good at it. The custom in Juwani was that the boarders after the class were supposed to go for manual work and most of them did it unwillingly. With the permission of the fathers we started games in the school. The day scholars stayed back in the school to play. Fr.Milo and the teachers also joined in the games with the senior boys. In the end of the year we had a very good volleyball team in our school which won the shield at the district level competition. Games and sports have a great role in the character formation of the boys. We had learned that " "Waterloo was won in the playground of Eaton". The christian children took great interest in the study of catechism and they won the Bishop's shield offered for the best school in catechism that year. That was the first year that the Junwani school received a shield offered for religious study.

The Burner River, in Body, Mind, and Soul. 

The boys had to go to the nearby " Burner "River for their bath and for washing their cloths. I noticed that some small children of the primary section were coming back from the river without having proper bath. So I used to accompany them to the river to see that everyone had a proper bath. When we accept children into our boarding we need to play the role of their parents. The parents entrust their integral growth, in body, mind, and soul. I used to entrust the care of the small boys to the senior boys and ask them to to look after them like their own brothers. Make the boarding into a family where brothers help each other. 

We insisted much on cleanliness. I told them "cleanliness is next to Godliness", a healthy mind can exist only in a healthy body ( Mens sana in corpore sano.). A proper bath, washing the cloths clean, keeping the rooms and the surroundings clean and tidy etc. are a part of it. Make the virtue of cleanliness a habit in their lives so that they would continue that habit at home and teach others about the sanctity of cleanliness of the body, the heart and the soul when their turn comes. In such an atmosphere discipline need not to be imposed. Discipline is a natural consequence of the training you give to make them responsible citizens. My students were disciplined without compulsion. They had one aim in their lives, namely " I want to become somebody in life". and worked towards that goal. This made them forget the inconveniences and privations they had to put up with in the boarding. We gave the best we could give to those children. 

I put myself at the service of these children in our school because I loved them. It was not to please anybody or to win any appreciation. In fact such a thought never came to my mind. Probably I was influenced by Mother Theresa. She used to tell us "what the poor look for is our love not our money or wealth". Impact of love is lasting whereas the impact money and material is momentary. Of course when we love the poor sincerely we will serve them and share with them whatever we have to alleviate their poverty and we will look after needs.

The value of the Kingdom 

Jesus: How to seek the Kingdom of God first.
When I opted to become a priest joined the seminary, I did it "to save souls". Later as I studied more I changed my mind. I understood that salvation does not start after death. Salvation begins as soon as a child conceived in the womb of its mother. Jesus became man not merely to save souls but to save man, in order to transform the children of men into children of God. He never preached any religion or did he institute one. His only religion was the fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of men, the children of the one and only God.

Therefore he taught men to live in harmony as brothers and sisters. He taught them the values of Kingdom. What he envisaged was a Kingdom of God in which all men live in justice and piece, love and fellowship, truth and equality. And he presented Himself as a model for service: " His love for us led Him to the cross, He broke His Body and shared it with us saying :" to take and eat, this is my body. "And finally he shed the last drop of His blood for us. So unselfish was His love and service for us human beings. Jesus who died on the cross for love of us is the model and norm for any one who wants to serve others.

It does not matter whether the children in our schools or the people who come in contact with us are going to be baptized or not. It is our basic duty that we share with them the values of the Kingdom which are none other than the human values. We do not force anybody to become a Christan. If by seeing our good work and experiencing our love they decide to accept Christ,we take them int our fold. During my Regency there were only three Christen boys in our middle school boarding. We did not force anybody to accept our religion. But later many became Christians.


My experience with Fr. Otto Paymans during my Regency days in Junwani completly changed my attitude towards him. In spite of all the feedback I had received about him before I came to the place,living with him my whole perception changed. He was a quite different personality from what I had head about him. Fr. Otto Paymans was a perfect gentleman and a dedicated missionary. He loved the villagers. He had a kind heart for the poor irrespective of their religion. He loved the children of our school and would do anything for them. He was observing and scrutinizing how I dealt with the children entrusted to my care. He was very appreciative of the way I dealt with the people of the place. I could discuss with him anything openly regarding the boys. 

Before I left the place he told me that I had brought many "firsts" to this remote village. For the first time all the students who appeared for the board examination passed in the first division and in my subjects (English, and Sanskrit) they passed with distinction. For the first time Junwani got the Bishop's shield for Catechism and for the first time Junwani School was the champions in the district level volleyball competition. Both of us parted as good friends. With a sense of satisfaction I went back to the seminary. //      


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