Founding of Regional
Fr. George Pallivathukal
To Manila for Higher Studies-
Fr. Amalopavdas, the National Director, wrote to MISSIO, Aachen, Germany on my behalf and got a Scholarship for me to go for specialization in Catechetics. I had the choice either to go to Paris in France or to Manila in the Philippines. My plan was not merely to get a degree, but to equip myself to work effectively in a Mission diocese. Fr. Ed Daly S.J suggested to me that Manila would be better place for my purpose. I spoke to Bishop Theophane about my plan and since I was going on a scholarship he had no objection to my going to Manila for higher studies. Bishop appointed Fr. Charles acting in charge of Dhanora and Fr. Mathew. P. Chalil as the priest in-charge of Nainpur. I got admission in the East Asian Pastoral Institute (EAPI) under the Ateneo De Manila University, Philippines and on the 31st August 1978 I joined this Institute. There were eleven Indians amoung a total of 71 candidates from 28 nations from Asia, Pacific, and African countries. Two of my acquaintances Fr. Jose Palathinkal of Indore and Fr. Stanis Paul of Raipur were in the group.
| Bishop Theophane -Madhyapradesh|
The Director of the Institute was Fr. Adolfo Nicholas. He is today the General of the Jesuits. WE had many eminent Professors, Priests and Lay people, who were willing to help students according to their need and request. The laity were very much at my heart. If the Church is what the Vatican council II teaches us then 99.5 % of the church is the Laity. They play a very passive role in the church today. If they were animated to get involved in the building up of the Church the entire face of the Church would change. This was my conviction. So I wanted to prepare myself to go to the Laity. Dr. Jose Calle S.J helped me in my search. He gave me a lot of references and models. We had access to three libraries namely the EAPI Library, the University library and San Jose Jesuit Seminary Library. I spent much of my time in the Library, some days till 2-O'clock in the morning. WE had access to the EAPI Library 24 hours of the day. Fr. J. Calle guided me wholeheartedly.
I was impressed by what the South Korean Bishops did get the laity involved in evengelization and in the building up of their Church. The Bishops of Korea wrote a joint pastoral letter addressed to families. Even family recieved a letter signed by their Bishops. The Bishops asked their people big and small, young and old a very small thing that is, to tell to at least five people every day who jesus was for them and why they followed Him. This brought about a revolutionary change in the Church of South Korea. I thought if Korea could do it we too can do it.
Indiscussed with Fr. Clarke S J the National Chaplain for Kursillos, a world wide lay organizarion, about the role of Kursillos as a lay movement in the church. Fr. Clarke was also our Professor of Anthropology. He told me that the Kursillos or such organizations do not have wider impact in the life of the Church. He said a new movement was emerging in the Church and that was "Small Christian Communities" based on Gospal sharing. Small Christian Communities were getting stronger in the Philippines those days as a Christian answer to the misrule of President Ferdinand Marcos, Just as the Small Christian Communities came up in South America as an answer to utter poverty and in South Africa as an answer to the apartheid (colour discrimination between blacks and whites) Small Christian Communities in South America took the form of liberation theology which brought about a sort of revolution and confusion in the Church. It was people like Bishop Bosco Penha of Bombay, Archbishop Susai Pakiam of Trivandrum and Fr. Vijay Thomas of Nagpur who later worked hard to show the SCCs as a "new way of being the Church" in India or as a way of being a strong believing community involving the laity. I was in touch with this movement in the Philippines already from 1978-79.
Accidental Death at Home
My sister Mary who had left the convent and was working in Chennai found a life partner. The boy was an engineer of Kerala origin but born and brought up in Chennai. His father was Dr . Peter D' Cunha and my sister wrote to me about the proposed marriage. The boy's party wanted to have the marriage blessed in the Velankanni Shrine. I told them to go ahead with their plan and not to wait for my return from the Philippines. My sister went home and with the home people she was going by road to Velankannifor the marrage. On the 27th December, 1978 the marriage party met with an accident in which my elder sister, my own paternal uncle and three of their children, altogether six people died on the spot. I was in Bontoc, a remote village in the Philippines at that time. I received the message about the accident through Radio Veritas, Manila and immediately I left for Manila. The next day the authorities of EAPI arranged to send me home. By the time I reached home in Kerala the funerals were over. My younger sister for whose marriage they were all going to Velankanni and my nephew were in the hospil with severe injuries. I stayed at home for two weeks. My sister and my nephew were slowly recovering. So I went back to manila to continue my studies. When my sister recovered from her shock and injuries, her marriage with the same boy was solemnized in our parish church in Kerala.
Appointed Regional Director of Christian life.
When I was still in Manila Pursuing my studies the Madhyapradesh Bishops appointed me as Director for Christian life for the entire region of Madhya Pradesh. Those days the present Chattisgarh was also a part of Madhya Pradesh. Christian life commission consisted of three diferent disciplines, namely Catechetics, Liturgy and Bible. Bishop Theophane wrote to me that the M.P. Bishops asked for my service the region and therefore when I return I would have no funktion as the Regional Director.
Cardinal Lourduswami visits Manila.
| Cardinal. Lourduswamy|
Cardinal Lourduswamy was the prefect of the Congregation for propagation of faith in Rome. He was the brother of Fr. Amalorpavdas and when I was doing my training in Bangalore he was the Archbishop of Bangalore. He used to come to the centre often and I knew him personally. When he saw me in the EAPI he recognized me and spoke to me. I told him about my new appointment to serve the region of Madhya Pradesh and told him also that I would need his assitance to build up a Regional Pastoral Centre. He promissed and assured me full support for my new ministry. I completed my studies at the EAPI and returned to Jabalpur in May 1979.
Madhya Pradesh Regional Pastoral Centre,Tindini- Preparation.
On my return from Manila both Fr. Charles Lobo and I were transfered from Dhanora-Nainpur to Binjhia and myself as Regional Director of Pastoral service. I was supposed to work under the Madhya Pradesh Bishop's commission for Christian life of which Bishop Theopfane was the Chaiman and Bishop Philip Ekka of Raipur and Bishop Abraham Viruthukulangara of Khandawa were the members. I was appointed Secretary to this commission. As the secretary I had no attend the Bishop's conference whenever they met and present reports, plans, budgets etc. and keep the Bishops informed of evrything that was happening in the region in this field.
My first attempt after reaching Binjhia was to find a suitable place for a Regional Pastoral Centre. The Three Bishops of the Commission came to Binjhia, measured the land belonging to the parish and gave me a samll plot of land to build a Regional Pastoral Centre. I had big plans, I needed more land and Fr. Charles and I were on the look out for a better place to build the centre. Once I had gone to Udaipur in Rajastan conduct a programme for school teachers. On my return to Binjhia, as I got down from the rickshaw, Fr. Charlescame out of his room and told me to leave my suitcase on the verandah and get behind him on the motor bike without telling me the reason. I could sense some excitment with him.
| Jabalpur ( in green colour)|
He had managed to find a ten acre land in Tindini, just 10 km.away from Mandla on the Jabalpur Mandla raod touching the National Highway. The land belonged to Dr. Vaidya of Katra hospital and he was ready to give to us for Rupees Thirty thousand only. I informed my Bishop about the availability of this land and the Bishop agreed to buy the land immediately. I got it registered in the name of the Diocesan Corporation of Jablpur.
A surprise visitor
As soon as Archbishop Leobard heard that I bought a piece of Land for the Regional Pastoral Centre he came unanaunced and drove into the Binjhia church giving us all a surprise. As soon as he came unannounced and drove into the Binjhia church giving us all a surprise. As soon as he came in he said, " Come show me the land". We had a tea together and we all went to Tindini. We were exited about Bishop Leobard's visit. We were not prepared to make him bless and lay the foundation stone for the centre. We gave him a spade and requested him to do the first breaking of the ground. After breaking the ground Arch Bishop Leobard made a prophetic statement. Besides Charles and myself, Fathers Antony Thattil, Peter Edappally and two more priests were present on the spot. The Arch Bishop addressed me and said " George, This centre will remain an orphan in your hands, I know you will put your heart and soul into it and you will build up this centre to to its fullness. I remembered these prophetic words of the Arch Bishop Leobard when I was leaving the Regional Partoral Centre at Tindini, which I founded, with tears in my eyes. //-
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