Catechists were always close to my heart. I knew how valuable they were in the work of evengelization and in the building up of village churches.I was aware that more than half of the catechists of our diocese were not trained.Even the trained ones needed occational refresher programmes. So I decided to call the catechists of Jabalpur diocese to Dhanora for a two months training programme in the months of July and August. I chose these months because July-August are rainy months and there was not much touring in the monsoon season.To help me as resource persons I approached some of our own priests like Fr. Prem, Nicky Ambrose O'Praem, Chacko C. J. and two sisters who were trained in Catechists. I went with this proposal to the Bishop and he wholeheartedly approved the project and gave his full support.
Finance for the training
I told the Bishop that I would use the income from the Dhanora farm to meet the expences of the training programme. I told him that the salary we were paying to the catechists was very meagre. When they are in Dhanora for the training their families are at home and they have to servive.Besides they have quite a lot of expenses to educate their children in Boardings. Hence the catechists were not in a position to pay even partly towards the expences of the training of the catechists for better performance is the need of the diocese. Hence their training expences should be met by the diocese. Bishop permitted me to use the products of Dhanora Farm for the training of Catechists.
We conducted our first training programme of two month's duration in July-August 1974. Bishop came to Dhanora for the concluding ceremony of the training programme and gave away the certificates to the trainees. When Bishop Leobard shared with the other Bishops of MadhyPradesh during their meeting at Bhopal about the training I was imparting to the catechists to Dhanora for the two-months praining Programme. Thus the training programme we had started in ahumble way for the catechists of Jablpur diocese became a regional programme.
Electricity for Dhanora Village.
|Dhanora Village, Madhyapradesh|
Dhanora was in the dark. The source of our light was laterns and a gaslight. The closest place where electricity was available was Nainpur, a distance of 4 Km.from Dhanora.I spoke to the Bishop about the need of electricity in Dhanora and asked him to put in a word about it to Mr. James, the Chairman of the Madhyapradesh Electricity Board (MPEB). Bishop Leobard and Mr. James were close friends. The MPEB Chairman gave orders to the Mandla district Enginieer in charge of electricity and to the local officer at Nainpur to extend the line from Nainpur to Dhanora immediately. The department worked day and night to complete the extension work in a week. The Villagers co-operated whole heartedly because they were the major beneficiaries of the project. Meanwhile Fr. Peter, himself an electrician, did the wiring in our own hous on a war footing. After a week Bishop Leobard came with Mr. James, the Chairman of the MPEB, to inaugurate electricity in Dhanora village,. Along with the faces of the villagers the entire village was lit up radiantly with the arrival of electricity in the village.
A Tractor for the Farm.
We had a large area of paddy fields. The fields were made ready for cultivation with the help of country made ploughs pulled by bullocks. A tractor was a need for better cultivation. Norbertine Monastery of Jamtara had a new tractor for sale. We bought that tractor for Dhanora farm and paid in instalments. With the availability of electricity we had now plenty of water. With a tractor and plenty of water we were equipped for better cultivation and more profit.
Transfer of Bishop Leobard to Nagpur
|Archbishop House, Nagpur|
A Jeep for the Pastoral Centre.
I wrote to the funding agency MISSIO in Germany in 1975 and asked for a donation to purchase a Jeep for the pastoral centre. Missio immediately sanctioned the money and I had a jeep at my disposal.
Bro. Stephen Arackal's first visit to Nainpur.
|People of Nainpur|
Nainpur is situated in one of foot hills of Satpura hill Range.It lie on side of Nainpur Forest Range. It is surrounded by two rivers Chakor & Thanwar. It also has a lake called Railway Taalab.it is one of the most beautiful town in Mandla district.it is part of Godavari River basin.
In October ,1975 seven of my family members, uncles, aunts andd cousins came from home to Nainpur Dhanora to visit me my mission field. I went to Nagpur to bring them. after recieving them at the Nagpur Railway station late in the evening and meals in a hotel I drove them at night itself Nainpur. We arrived in Nainpur at 2 O'clock in the morning. Nainpur church had a one-room presbytery. We had two beds. I gave the beds to my two uncles and for the ladies I spread a carpet on the floor and asked them to make themselves comfotable by sleeping on the floor. I myself went to the back of the church, put two benches together, spread the sheets and slept there.
Bro. Stepfen a first year minor seminarian who was holidaying at Balpur at the time arrived in Nainpurby the night train. He came to the church at about four in the morning. The cook told him that we had just returned from Nagpur and that the house was full of people. Instead waking me up and telling me about the arrival of the brother the cook told him to lie down on a bench that was on the varandah of the kitchen.Early in the morning when I came out of the church, I met the boy. He introduced himself and said that he was sent from Balpur to purchase some things from Nainpur. He had to spend several hours in the cold of the morning on that bench, on the varandah of the kitchen. Although he was not kept out side deliberately, that first welcome which Bro. Stephen (Today Fr.Stephen) received in Nainpur is not forgotten and is narrated with hurt feeling. The incedent is still vived in my memory. I accepted the blame for hurting the feelingsof a seminarian although I did not know about his arrivel till the morning. If I were in his place I also would have felt the same as he did.
Bishop Theophane, the new Shepherd.
After a long waiting of eighteen months Bishop Theophane was consecrated Bishop of Jabalpur on the 31st March 1977. Bishop Theophane was a familier figure in the diocese. He had worked in the diocese as Assistant Priest at Balpur., Priest in charge in Sijhora and the Principal of St. Aloysius Higher Secondary School for several Years. Every on in the diocese was happy that we had a Bishop after a long period of waiting. //-
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