Dienstag, 14. April 2015

ധ്രുവദീപ്തി // Autobiography: Journey of a Missionary Priest. / Fr. George Pallivathukal

ധ്രുവദീപ്തി // Autobiography: 

Journey of a Missionary Priest. / 

Fr. George Pallivathukal

Secound time to Junwani.

Fr. George Pallivathukal
 I came back to Junwani after a gap of four years. I found some improvement in the place. In 1958 and 1959 the villagers around had suffered a severe famine and in order to give relief to them the goverment had started constructing a road from Bchhia to Samnapur, a distance of about 70 km.The road was passing though our village, Junwani. In 1963 we were privileged to have a service on this road from November to june. The rest of the year there was no bus service on account of rain and bad condition of the road. So this time I reached Junwani by bus, not on foot.

I reached my place of assignment on the 1st of May 1963 at about 2 p.m. Fr.Paymans was waiting tlo have lunch with me. He welcomed me saying " George, I know you and you know me. I know that you will do well here. That is why I wanted you here ". After a little wash we sat for our late lunch. He usually ate oil free and spice free food. He did not like pungent food. While having the meal he told me " You know this is the food I eat. If you like this you can eat it. If you do not like it you can tell the cook to make whatever you wanted to eat. Do not be stingy on food. In order to work well we neeed to eat well. He used to get plenty of tinned food from his home in Holland. Tins were kept in a cupboard and he told me to take whatever I wanted. There were no locks and keys.

In the evening he took me to my bed room and showed me the safe and two important keys, one of the tabernacle and the other of the safe. He told me to take whatever money was needed for the house and give him the account at end of the month. All the Dutch are not as kind, generous and noble as Fr.Otto Paymans.

When I reached Junwani as an assistant priest, there was already a senior assistant, Fr. Terraence Valladare there. He was an east Indian from Maharashtra who was three years senior to me in the seminary. So we werea team of three priests. I was happy that I had a seminary mate as my companion to work in my first mission field. I expected to learn the work from him.But soon I realized that he did not like anyone in the house. Even in the seminary he was not very sociable with us juniors, studying for the same diocese. He had a contemptuous attitude towards us. He hated Fr. Paymans and he tried to use me against the old priest. He did not succeed in that attempt and therefore he was not very happy with me either. Still we managed to live together for one year.

The staff in Junwani Mission.

The convent.

There was a convent in Junwani belonging to the Salesian Sisters of Mary Immaculate (SMMI) with four members in the community. One looked after the dispensary and two sisters regularly visited villages. Being women they had greater acces to the families. On Sunday evenings  the priests and the Sisters would meet together and exchange news about the previous week's work and plan for the following week. The Sisters were very dedicated and their contributions towards the building up of a faith community in Junwani cannot be forgotten.


When I joined the Junwani mission there were 20 full time catechists working in this mission station. They were placed in villages, in defferent parts of the Parish. Thea used to meet once a month at the centre to report about their work and to plan for the following month. They used to get their salary when they came for their monthly meeting. More about catechists later.

School Teachers.

We had three primary schools and one middle school under Junwani mission. These schools had a great impact on the villages. Teachers were very cooperative and dependable. Three of of them were my own students during my regency time.The boarding at the centre had about 150 students. Since we did not have a regent that year we needed the collaboration of the techers to mind the studies and the discepline of the boarders. Priests had to spend much time in villages,visiting and catechizing villagers.

Conversion movement in Junwani mission.

When I was doing my regency in Junwani in 1958 Fr. Paymans had completed eighteen years in that village. He was very popular amoung the people. They used to come to him for assistance and advice, to solve quarrels and family problems. He never insisted on their becoming Christians. Only a few people from the village would come to the church. I told him one evening in 1959," Father you left your home and came here to spread the messages of Jesus.But the people here do not seem to be interested in it. Are you not wasting your life here? Is it not better that we pack up and go elsewhere where we may get better response?" He raised his forefinger and said "No, George, God has his own time. We are not here to force anybody. We continue to be here. We are only his witnesses. It is God who touches their hearts.One day he will manifest His presence. People will witness many miracles, signs and wonders. We continue our good works here". I admired his great faith both in the Lord and in the people.

It was a great lesson for me. We do not convert anybody. Conversion is a free decision of the heart which a person makes when he / she meets the Lord. We only prepare the ground. The lord does the rest. Patience, perseverance and a spirit of prayer are the qualities a missionary requires if he wants to be successful in his mission.

Fr. Paymans and his Cook Tatu Patel.

Fr. Payman's patient waiting bore fruit eighteen years after his barren stay in Junwani. He had a cook, Tatu Patel by name. Tatu Patel used to accompany Fr. Paymans when he went on tour of the villages. We all liked Tatu because he was very pleasent and service oriented person. One day he confided in Fr. Paymans that he was going to send his legal wife away. He was married for more than ten years and yet he did not have a child. He thought he that his wife was responsible for that and he decided to send her away and take another wife because by all means he wanted a child. Father told Tatu not to send away his legal wife and take another women. God would be angry with him if he did that. The priest told Tatu " instead you pray to Jesus and Mary to bless you with a child " He assured him that nothing was impossible for God. 

To encourage him the priest narrated some stories from the Bible how God blessed people with chilkdren when they had lost all hope. Abraham got a son from his legal wife Sara at the age of hundred. Hanna who was barren prayed to God for a child and God blessed her with a son, Samuel. He told Tatu how God blessed Zacharias and Elizabeth with a child in their old age. He is John the Baptist. The priest told Tatu Patel and his wife to pray and he reassured them that God would bless them with a child. He promised the couple that he too would intercede and pray for them. The religious nuns treated the couple with some medicines.With in two months the lady was pregnet and in due time she delivered a beutiful baby girl. It is so true " Nothing is impossible with God. 

This news spread far and wide. Tatu Patel and family was converted and they became a powerful witness to jesus and his Blessed Mother Mary. Villagers came to Tatu Patel to hear from him how he got a child. He told them to believe in Jessus and pray to Him and their prayers also would be granted. This how the conversion movement in Junwani mission started. By the time I returned to Junwani after the lapse of four years,scores of villages within a radious of 30 km.had accepted Jesus and become Christians. In Tatu's village Gheori 85% of people had become christians. Patience and perserverance of Fr. Paymans really worked marvellously. As the conversion movement spread fierce opposition and persecution also followed. /-  

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