A DREAM COMES TRUE //
Fr. George Pallivathukal , Madhyapradesh.
Diocesan Pastoral Centre
I had a very brief stay in Balpur. On the 31st of August 1971 early in the morning we saw the Bishop's van coming in to the church compound. Bishop Leobard got out the van and gave me an order "Pack up all your things soon and get into the van. We have to go back immediatly. For a long time you have been asking for a pastoral centre. Now I got a place for you. Tomorrow is the registration of the land. Come along with me and get the deal done tomorrow and we can start the centre right away."I was overjoyed. I had no words to thank the Lord and the Bishop adequately.
Birth of Sneh Sadan.
The training I recieved from Fr. D. S Amalorpav Das at the National centre and experience I had gained working with Dally S. J. and his team made me confident to launch the pastoral renewal programme in my diocese. I had the full support of my mentors. I started with aretreat for the faithfull of all the parishes of Jabalpur city, preached by two of us Fr. Michael Adam of Patna and me. We explained the new vision of of the church as taught by the Vatican II Council and the role of the laity in the church. I conducted the renewal programmes for teachers of both English and Hindi medium schools. Sr. Thelma FMM, the Principal of St. Norbert's Higher Secondary School and the Superior of the St.Norbert's convent, Napier Town, not only provided the venue for our renewal programmes but helped me in organizing these programmes. Sr. Theodora FMM was another great soul in the Napier town convent who would not only pray daily for the centre but would come occasionally with the boarders and take care of the the maintanence of the centre. Along with the Bishop I visited the mission areas and attended the Deanery meetings to find out from the fathers in what way I could serve them as the Diocesan Director of pastoral work. Bishop always used to say that our property was persuasion and not dication. I started concentrating on the training of catechists as they were the agents of change in villages.
A distinguished visitor : Mother Theresa at the centre and her first donation.
A few weeks after I started the pastoral centre at Sneh Sadan, Mother Teresa visited Jabalpur.When she heard about the new Diocesan Pastoral Centre, Mother wanted to visit the centre. Those of us at the Centre were taken by surprise when all of a sudden Mother Theresa visited us at the Sneh Sadan with two of her sisters. She went around and saw the centre and while leaving the centre, Mother told me that I should buy a new chair with a staight back for my spine. Mother had seen me earlier at the NBCLC, sitting with cushions to support my back when I was doing my training in Bangalore. She remembered that and hence she told me about buying a chair for myself, when there were so many other more important things needed at the centre. She opened her purse and gave me a hundred rupee note and told me: "This is for your chair". This was the first donation I recieved after starting the pastoral centre , I did use that money to make a chair with a straight back as Mother Teresa had suggested and I am still using it. I take it whereever I go. Before leaving, Mother requested me to become chaplain of her sisters at Ghamapur. I accepted her request and helped the sisters every thursday with confessions, conferences, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.
A Hostel für College Students
Hunderds of tribal catholic students from Raigarth and Ambikapur dioceses were studying in various colleges in Jaipur. There were no proper accomodation facilities for them. Some of them were living in subhuman conditions. This was a big concern for our Bishop. Sneh Sadan building was huge enough to accomodate a few boys. Being a one man Pastoral team I had no intention of conducting any residential programmes at Sneh Sadan. Hence half of the building was converted into a hostal and the other half accomodated the pastoral centre. I started with 20 boys because we could accomodate only that many. This attempt was like "lighting one candle rather than sitting and cursing the darkness". Bishop had plans to accomodate the others also.
Banned to preach and to celebrate Mass in the Cathedral.
AS per the appointment I was supposed to assist on Sundays in the Cathedral Church. Mgr. Joseph Thaliath was the parish priest of the Cathedral. He was an ultra conservative, who was against any renewal in the Church. For him Pope john XXIII was the worst pope in the Church and he felt that the II Vatican Council actually ruined the Church. He was not happy that I was assisting in the Cathedral on Sundays. One Sunday I spoke to the people about the new teaching of Vatican II regarding the Church and about role of the laity in the Church.I told them that Parish councils and finance committees at the Parish and diocesan levels were the forum for the laity to exercise their role in the Church. I also said that these counsils proposed by the Vatican II council are not a matter of choice of the priests and the Bishops; on the contrary they are manadatory. This pricked Mgr. Thaliath and accused me of instigating the people against priests. He forbade me to celebrate Masse or to preach in the cathedral. For more than a year and a half that ban was on me. I left the Cathedral and went to other Churches. Fr. Antony Thundiyil of St. Thomas Church, Ranchi, Jabalpur was only too happy with my assistance. //-
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