(Fr. George Pallivathukal Awarded- best Catholic writer in Hindi literature of the year 2015 )
The Tripple Ministry in Mandla District :
1. The prophetic or teaching ministry.
|Fr. George Pallivathukal
This was a great blessing for villagers because so far nobody, not even the Government, had done anything to bring literacy to the villages. Fathers opened hundreds of Schools in different parts of the district and appointed teachers mostly Chotanagpuriens, in order to give the villagers at least the minimum basic education. They had also built middle schools with attached hostels for those who wanted to go for higher studies.
In order to supply adequate number of local teachers a Teacher's Training School was started at Sijhora. Later Bishop Dubbelman opened St.Thomas Hindi medium High School with hostal facilities in Jabalpur for the tribel boys coming from Mandala district and the girls were accommodared in the St. Norbert's High School, Napier town, Jabalpur. A Degree Collage with English & Hindi faculties was started where our tribal students could get university education. Hundreds of our tribals are grateful to these pioneer Missionaries for their foresight in providing education to them.
Schools, Boarding and Evangelization.
|A group of school children in Mandla-
Late 19th century
Our education apostolate had two aims: one was to bring literacy to the rural masses and the other was to introduce to them Jessus, our Guru and Saviour. Missionaries had learned from experience that the rural children were as smart and intelligent as the urban children and if oppertunity was given to them they too could excel like anybody else. We feel proud when we meet doctors, professors, teachers, magistrates, IAS & IPS officers and other public servants whose educational foundations was laid by us in our village schools. We had to provide them with everything from our own resources, namely books and stationery, food and clothes. Above all we gave them values. Our ex-students remember the cotribution we have made to build up their future.
One day I was walking on a street of Mandala. It was the market day and there were hundreds of people on the road. From amoung the crowd one tall well built person, well dressed in his "dhoti and kurta" came forward and knelt before me. Kneeling before you means he is asking for a blessing. I blessed him and after receiving the blessing he touched my feet and stood up. He was smiling and asked me in Hindi, "Father, do you recognize me"? I remembered his face but had forgotten his name. He slowly lifted his "dhoti" and showed me a scar on his thigh. I called out his name and we hugged each other. He was my student in the late fifties and he was in the boarding.
On sundays the boys used to go to the nearby river for bathing and washing their clothes and after bath they used to go to the nearby forest to collect firewood for their kitchen.On a particular Sunday while searching for firewood this boy found a nice shapely cane, and he brought it to the boarding. I had the habit of spending Sunday evening with the boarders, joining in their recreation. That Sunday when I was with the boarders this boy brought the cane and give it to me. I asked him for what purpose he brought the cane. He said "to beat us when we do not study". I used to punish them sometimes, but only for reasons of study. I said" then you shall be the first one to get the beating, because you have good brain but you do not apply your mind to study as you should". I was twisting and playing with the stick while talking to the boys. Meanwhile the boy who brought the stick and got a hit on his thigh accidently. His eyes were full and so were mine. "I said "Bindu, excuse me that was not intended. I was only playing". He said "do not worry, Father, "Pyar ka mar meetha hota hai" (A beating with love is sweet).
The cane had caused a small scar on his thigh. Showing me the old scar on the street in Mandla market he said "Father this scar is what made me what I am today. I just retired as the principal of a Higher Secondary School (Junior College). We have not met each other after I left the school. But you were always in my thoughts and in my prayers. Whenever a new batch of students came to my school I used to show them my precious scar and I would talk to them about you, how you made me what I am today.Father, I would adore you in my heart. I never thought that I would be able to meet you again. Today God made it possible for us to meet again. "Father, you know that I am not a christian, but I pray to Jesus everyday. You taught me to pray".
I cannot explain what joy that meeting brought to me. This is God's way of rewarding us for our dedicated service. Today a techer could go to Jail for an accidental hit like this; but fifty years ago an occational punishment from a Guru was considered to be a sign of love and a blessing.
Schools and Boardings open our way to villages.
When a child is admitted into our school and boarding, we are able to bild up contact with the village from where he comes. The parents usually invite us to their and when we decide to visit them they make arrangements for our stay. Usually we send the catechist first to study about the village and to make initial contacts. After the contact is established by the catechist the priest follows him. His visit to the village is a great event. People come and sit around the "Swamiji" (the Priest) and the Guruji"(Catechist). They ask questions about their children in the boarding, about the school etc. Then they want to know about us, about our families, from where we came, how much of education we have had etc.
|Villagers in Chottanagapur
Missionaries did not and do not force anyone to become a christian. Seeing our good works if anybody is attracted to our religion we accept that person. People quietly ask the catechist and their own relatives who have become christians about our religion and about the advantage in becoming christians. I would say that most of our evangelization in the tribal area is done by our new catholics and catechumens. Catechumens are those who have accepted our faith and are preparing themselves for baptism. The catechist regularly visits the village and keeps contact with them./-
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