Bishop had told me earlierthat after being in Kurela for six manths I would have to proceed to Dhanwahi to re-open that station. Later he decided differently. Bishop transferred Fr. Prem Dhanwahi and he appointed me as priest in charge of Kurela. This was a wise decision because Fr. Prem was a better person than me for pioneerung work. Fr. Charle Lobo just out of the seminary after his studies was appointed as assistant priest at Kurela.
Bishop Leobard wanted to start a Grihini school at Kurela in order to train illiterate and dropout girls to be good housewives. He gave us some money to construt a building for the purpose and to buy furniture and equipments for the training. I wnt to Ambikapur to learn how the Holy Cross Sisters there were running Grihini training programme. The training consisted of tailoring, embroidery, Knitting, a small kitchen garden, small home poultry, rearing of goats and one or two cows and nutritional cooking, hygiene and cleanliness etc. It was a one year course. The local SMMI sisters extended their help in conducting this programme. The girls were supposedto go back to their own villages and practice what they had learned in their own families. Unfortunately later on the Girhini school became a training ground for cooks for Convents.
A building for Middle school.
The middle school classes were conducted in a very shabby building. The building had no proper light or ventilation. The walls were made of mud clay. Fr. Charlie and I planned to construct a building for middle school alongwith the Grihini School. We had no money. We got laks of bricks and country tiles made in our own compound. We cut them and used for the school. The money we got from the Bishop was used for buying lime, paying masons etc. We dared to take the risk and we got the work done. The students were immensely happy to have a ne decent building for their clases.
When I was looking after the construction of the school building severe pain developed on my back on account of the fall in the river Burner when I was in Junwani. One night in summer 1968 I went to bed and the next morning I could not get up. Ambulance came from Katra hospital and took me to the hospital. For three months I was lying down in one position because of the severe pain. Bishop Leobard sent me to Bombay Holy Spirit Hospital for treatment. There it was found out that I had aslip disk and a nerve of the left leg caught in between two desks got amputed by rubbing in between the disks while walking. I had a succesful operation and the Holy Spirit hospital,Andheri, Bombay put me back on myfeet. While I was in the hospital in Bombay my Bisop came to see me.
I heard him telling the sister Administrator of the hospital " Sister I want him back on his feet, I don't care for money. He is very precious to me and to the dicese. He is to do great things in the diocese " Since then I got VIP treatment in the hospital and the sisters in the hospital used to call me " the darling of the Bishop". From the hospital Bishop sent a telegram to my sister Tessy at Sager asking her to come and stay with me in the hospital. The two months I was in the hospital my sister stayed with me. Leobard was a very sensitive Bishop. For sometime after my operation I had to take rest as I could not strain my back. Those days I went to the school to teach English in the middle school classes. My presence in the school helped in making the teaching qualitatively better. Some of the girls who studied in our school in those days have become great people today. They remember greatfully the contribution the school had made to make them what they are today.
Fr. Charles Lobo
Fr. Charles, fresh from the seminary was very enthusiastic in mission work. He was a good companion. He was very fond of boarding children and the children also loved him. After my spinal operation I could not go visiting villages for some time. Charlie was doing practically all the tours. He had a small jawa jet motorbike. He used to go to villages on the bike. We had better roads in Kurela than in Junwani. One day he had a puncture on his bike. He had no spare tyre with him. To get the puncture repaired he had to go at least 30 kilometers. He got an idea. He removed the tube from the punctured tyre,filled straw in to the tyre, drove and came home. A very practical mind.
Diocesan Director of Catechetics.
|Indian People in Madhyapradesh|
In November 1968, Bishop Leobard appointed me as the Diocesan Director of Catechetics, Liturgy and Bible and asked me to go and attend the all India liturgical meeting held at the National Biblical Catechetical and Litergical Centre (NBCLC), Bangalore. Fr. Amalorpavadas was the Director of the NBCLC and Secratary to the CBCI Commission for Bible, Catechetics and Liturgy. This meeting was attended by many eminent people like Fr. Bede Griffith, Francis Achaarya, Fr. Legrange, Fr. Lesser and several others. I felt small amoung all those intelectual giants. Yet I fully participated in the meeting. At one point I got into an argument with Bishop Patroni of Calicut regarding receiving Communion in Hand. He was against that practice. I argued in favour of it. I said giving communion in the mouth especially to women causes scandal among the newly baptized tribel Christians. No man feeds a women in the mouth expect her own husband. Recieving Communion in the mouth may be all right amoung traditional christians, but not among the newly baptized tribal christians.
Inculturation was another topic discussed in the national meeting. Keeping in mind our tribal christians, Jabalpur was strongly in favour of inculturation in Liturgy. In fact under guidance of Bishop Leobar, Fr. Prem, and myself had started preparing an inculturated ritual for the Sacrament of marriage taking into account the customs of the tribals of the Mandla district. We were helped by the tribal catechists and teachers. We sent the draft to Rome and the Ponthifical Commission for Divine Worship approved our text. We had the first marriage blessed according to the new tribal Liturgy in the Kurela church.
Training at bangalore.
The NBCLC, bangalore had organized a six month orientation programme for Diocessan Directors and other church leaders who were engaged in the renewal programme of the church in India. This training programme was aimed at familiarizing the faithful with the teaching Vatican 11 Council and to prepare leaders to put into practice the resolutions of the church in India seminar. I was sent by the Bishop to attend the programme. This programme was from September 1969-to March 1970. I was of the pre-Vatican school ordained before the council. This training gave me a formal and intensive initiation to the Vatican Theology. In my absense from Kurela to attend the training programme, Bishop appointed Fr. Joseph Thoyalil, priest in charge of the neighboring station Sijhora as acting priest in charge of Kurela and Fr.Chrles continued to be assistant priest.//-
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