DHRUWADEEPTI: // Memories //
Journey of a Missionary Priest //
-Fr. George Pallivathukal-
Parish Council and Finance Committee //
Parish Council and Finance Committee //
As soon as I took over the administration of the Parish I called a meeting of the Parish council and explained to them the role of the laity in the church especially in managing the temporal affairs of the parish. I handed over the management of the finance to the parish council. Money that I had received from my predecessor was an amount of Rupees four thousand five hundred only. Parishioners were thinking that Ranjhi church had a lot of money and that the parish was getting plenty of money from foreign countries. We formed a finance committee headed by Mr. A. Raja, a retired officer from the OFK. The committe was active and resposible. Our motto was honesty and transperancy. I did not handle the money of the parish; however no payment would be made without my knowledge.
One Sunday one of the parish council members, Mr. BK John, asked me whether he could use the pulpit to make an announcement. I granted his request. He explained to the people how the Parishioners were made partners in the administration of the parish and the need for the people to own up the parish. He said that the people are the parish ; it is they who would make or brake the parish. He also read out to the people the statement of accounts of money which I received when I took over the parish. He said that the parish priest would never use the pulpit to ask for money but the people should contribute generously , without being asked, for the building up of the parish. He asked the people to pay one percent of their total income as church subscription. The parish council member of each area was authorized to collect church subscription and bring it to the parish council. When people started motivating each other the income of the parish increased.
All the major decisions regarding the administration of the parish was discussed and made in the parish council. The finance secretary would present the monthly accounts to the council. This made me free to do my pastoral duties as a parish priest. Mr. Yohannan was the parish council secretary and both Mr. Raja and Mr. Yohannan together formed a good team. We Priests need not handle money.Our lay people came of age. They are capable of handling the finance of the church. Our role is only to see that the church funds and properties are not misused and embezzled. It is important that our hands remain clean and that we are above suspicion. We need to trust our laity.
Care of the poor.
" The poor will be with you always " said the Lord, and Ranjhi parish had her own share of the poor. However being in an industrial area all could find some work or other so that there was no need for anybody to go to bed hungry. For some people the income they received was not enough to meet all their domestic needs. Some wasted their earnings in exces drinking . In such cases their children were the suffers. The church came to the aid of these children by helping them in their education.
Good Samaritan Society.
There were some poor people in the parish who could not afford a funeral when some one in their family died. This was becoming a burden on the parish. So my predecessor Fr. Joseph Thoyalil along with Mr. M.P. Wilson, a parishioner, started a "Funeral Society" in the parish mainly to help the poor. Later on they felt that people needed help not only when they die, but also when they are sick and old. So the funeral society became a "Good Samaritan Society.". The slogan of the society was "Prayer without work is useless""( James 1,22). The members of the Samaritan Society did a wonderful job in the parish. I fully supported them. A feeling was created amoung them that theytoo were wanted. The members of the society kept the parish priest informed about all the cases they were handling, especially in view of helping them with sacraments of the sick and visiting them periodically. When somebody died in the parish even if that person was not a member of the Samaritan Society the members would go to that house and assist the family in conducting the last Rites. If the family was poor the Society would meet the expences of the funeral.Words are not adequate enough to acknowledge the praiseworthy services the Samaritan Society was rendering to the Ranjhi Parish.
Uncle Das Fund.
A retired bachelor from the 506 Army Workshop willed his property to the Ranjhi Church after his death. He had no relations in Ranjhi. In his last days St. Joseph sisters , especially Sr. Lucy looked after Mr. Das. He died when my predecessor Fr. Josep Thoyalil was the Parish priest. After the death of Mr. Das, Fr. Joseph sold his house and deposited the amount in fixed deposit in the Bank. To perpetuate the memory of Mr. Das , Fr. Joseph started an education fund named "Uncle Das Fund" to help the poor children to by Uniforms, books and stationery. Both the St. Gabriel's and St. Josephs were generous enough to give fee concessionto our poor children. This way no christen student had any difficulty in getting educated in our schools. Our motto was that no child in our parish should be deprived of education., at least up to the Higher Secondary level, because he/ she is poor. We were encouraged all our children to get enrolled in St. Gabriel's and St. Joseph's to benefit from the christian atmosphere and catechism in those schools.
Before I left Ranjhi, I made the "Uncle Das Fund "into an "Uncle Das Trust". The members of the Trust were the parish priest and the assistant, superiors of St.Gabriel's Monastery and St. Josep's convent, Parish council secretary and finance secretary. I got it approved by the Bishop under his signature and seal. Nobody was allowed to change any clause in the Trust without the permission of the Bishop. This was to ensure that the intention of the doner was honored and the memory of Uncle Das was perpetuated.
Bishop Dubbelman Memorial Poor Family Trust.
One of the many things Bishop Theophane did to uplift the poor of the diocese , especially the tribals, was that he started a scheme called "Family Adoption" to help the poor families to educate their children. He contacted many families in Holland to adopt poor Indian families and to assist them in educating their children. Seven families of Ranjhi were beneficiaries of this scheme. There were many more poor families in the parish but were not benefiting from this scheme. So Bishop permitted me to share whatever we got for a few families with the other poor families also to be fair with all. I saved some money from the "Family adoption" scheme, put the amount together and made it into a trust for poor families of the parish and named it after Bishop Dubbelman, the first Bishop of our diocese and the founder of Ranjhi parish. I felt the need of a fund to help the poor families because the help for families coming from Holland was soon going to stop. The same trustees who were handling "Uncle Das Trust" for poor families also. With the above mentioned two funds and generosity of the religious and the people Ranjhi parish was in a comfortable position to help their poor brothers and sisters.//-
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