Journey of a Missionary Priest //
A dispensary in the Pastoral centre Campus
-Fr. George Pallivathukal-
I went to the provincial of the SMA, Mhow and asked for a nurse to come and work with me at the centre. She gave me Sr. Jovita Vattakeril. With the help of Jovitha I started a dispensary in the Tindini campus mainly for the benifit of the trainee families, but we extended our service to Tindini and neighboring villages. Sisters would takes classes for the trainees in the morning and open the dispensary at the afternoon. Dr. T. L. Kushram of Katra Hospital would come once a week and attend to the patients. The dispensary served as a contact point with the villagers . Many villagers were coming to the dispensary and getting treated there. This gave the Sisters a chance to come in contact with them. Sisters slowly started visiting families, teaching them about hygiene, child care, cleanlines etc. They encouraged villagers to start their own kitchen garden, gave them plantain shoots and tapioca sticks and taught them how to plant them.
Member of the Lion's Club.
1981 a unit of the Lions Club started in Mandla. I was in close contact with the leading citizens of Mandla. They compelled me to join the Lions Club which brought me in close touch with many more of the elite of the town. Meanwhile the Collector appointed me as a new member of the District Peace Commission to represent the minorities, a post which I held for many years until I was transfered to the Cathedral Church, Jabalpur.
Collector Wilfred Lakra
1982 Mr. Wilfred Lakra came as the collector of Mandla. As he saw me he said "I know you well. where you not in Ranchi seminary"? When I was studying in St.Albert's, Ranchi, Wilfred was in the apostolic school studying to become a Jesuit Priest. He persued his studies till the Novitiate at Hazaribag, and then he left and joined the Madhya Pradesh civil service. Wilfred was a regular visitor to Tindini. He came mainly to rest where nobody would disturb him. His Wife Shanthi used to come regularly to the Centre to take classes for the ladies on family saving, home managemnt, and prevention of diseases in the family etc. One of the things Wilfred liked with us in the Pastoral Centre was that we did not entertain any body with drinks. Liquor was not permitted in the compound. I was very strict about it. He remarked that in many places including Chotanagpur the Church was being ruined because of the excessive drinking habit of priests. Ordinary people were scandalized and they had no words to defend their drunken priests.Wifred's presence in the district was beneficial to the christian community although he did not do anything openly in their favour. He and his wife were known for their honesty. People knew that they could not be bought with money or things. He would say that his religion taught him to be honest.
M P Bishops Conference and the Formal Inauguration of the Regional Pastoral Centre.
When all the construction work was completed we had the formal inauhuration of the Regional Pastoral Centre. All the eleven Bishops of Madhyapradesh came for the occation and they had their annual meeting at the centre from the 23rd to 25th of February 1981. On the 25 th the Bishops had a concelebrated Mass presided over by Archbishop Eugene D'Souza and he blessed the centre formally in the presence of a select group of priests, religious and lay people. While leaving the centre the Archbishop told me that he was very angry with me. He asked me" why did you build this centre here, you should have built it in Bhopal." After this remark I knew that I could notexpect much support from the Archbishop.
Besides the residential course for catechists we had short term courses vor various categories of people, like school teachers, religious sisters who were engaged in dirct mission work, for village leaders, members of catholic sabha etc. I remained in the centre, Tindini for six years from 1979 to 1985. Five batches of catechists had been trained during my tenure as its Director . We had 30 catechists' families under training at a time in Tindini.
Prophecy of Archbishop Leobard comes true.
One day in March 1985 received a letter from my sister Tessy from Bopal asking me whether I would be leaving the Pastoral Centre at Tindini soon. She wrote that, that morning Monsingnor Hunold SAC ,a Pallotine Prelate and Administrator of the diocese at Raipur, came to her convent in Bopal to celebrate Mass and during the breakfast he asked her whether she knew that the Pallotines would be taking over the Regional Centre from me and I would be soon returning to my diocese. I was schocked when I received my sister's letter. I went my Bishop and showed him the letter. Very cooly he remarked "Oh,I did not tell you"It is all decided"He took out from his drawer the contract which the Madhya Pradesh Bishop had made with the Pallotine Provincial and gave it to me. Bishop told me to go through the contract and see if I had any suggestion to make. When I went through through the contract I noticed that it was all finalized and the cotract was signed by both the parties. Asking for suggestions wa a bluff. I remmebered the prophetic words of Archbishop Leobard. I was in a way prepared for this schock and yet my eyes were full when I went through the paper. I felt cheated. I returned the agreement paper to the Bishop, thanked him and left his room silently.
The reginal Bishops were not generous in supplying staff for the Centre. Once in a meeting of the Bishops I had told them to give me one good priest and two sisters who would be willing to live in a community and work as a team. "Give me the best and I shall return the best. " I told the Bishops. One of the Bishops remarked " if we give you the best what what will we do". When I left the meeting hall Archbishop Eugene suggested to the rest of the Bishops that it was better to hand over the Centre to a religious cobgregation so that the Bishops could be spared of any trouble from the Pastoral Centre. So the Bishops deputed Bishop Abraham Viruthukulangara to search for a congregation that was willing to take up the Regional Pastoral Centre and to make a contract with it. His choice was the Pallotines. I was kept in the dark about this decesion.
Soon a Priest came from Raipur to take over the Centre from me. He stayed with me for two weeks to study the functioning of the Centre. He had no training in any of the disceplines (catechetics, Liturgy, Bible.) we were dealing with. After taking over the Centre from me the Congregation sent a priest to Rome to attend a two-year training programme in Catechetics. The new Director was a good farmer,. The Pallotines were given a grand reception by the Madhya Pradesh Bishops' Commission when they came to take over the Centre. However they forgot to say a word of thanks to me., the founder of the Centre. How true the Prophecy of Achbishop Leobard was!
In the last news letter I published from Tindini, I quated the story of the two mothers who fought in the court of King Solomon for the possession of one child. I wrote that I was leaving with the feeling of the actual mother of the baby who was willing to hand over the child to the other women so that at least that way her child would remain alive, while the other women who did not experience the pain of delivering the child was ready to cut it into two. I thanked everybody in my news letter and said good bye to the Centre.I emotionally broke down and tears were rolling down from my eyes when I left the Centre at Tindini which I built up with so much of Pain and Hope. The Pallotines managed the Regional Pastoral Centre for five years and the centre had a natural death in their hands. It was a sad thing, but it did not hurt anybody expect me, who had given birth to that Centre. //-
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