WHOLE WORLD IS MY HOME LAND
“Everywhere people waiting” is the missionary thirst of Mary of the Passion. Being alert to the call of our foundress, we, the Mumbai Province, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary chose to reach out to the vulnerable people in different parts of the country. After a thorough study of the ground reality, discussions with the local ordinary and priests, Rayagada, Odisha was chosen as our urgent mission area. Here people suffer from illiteracy, ill health, lack of access to health care and transportation facilities. It is indeed a challenging mission.
Despite dwindling of active personnel and dearth of vocations today, the Provincial of Mumbai Province Sr. C.T. Theresa Thomas accepted to start a foundation in Rayagada as a mission priority. The Bishop of Rayagada Rev. Applinar Senapati, was delighted at the prospect of FMM missionaries opting to set up a community in his new Diocese. Srs. Bimla Beck, Sujatha Yeruva and Sujatha Mali were the chosen pioneers to flag off the new venture. On 19th June, 2019 the community at Gopalpur-On-Sea, along with Provincial and Council, offered a special Eucharistic celebration for the three sisters sent on mission. During the homily Fr. Ignatious.C.M. highlighted the commitment, courage and risks needed to take up a new mission with a focus on Christ. 20th June, 2019 was the dawn of the missionary travel to Rayagada. The trio were accompanied by the Provincial and Council members Srs. Regina Chinnappa and Antonette Pereira.
After a long trip of 350 kms, sisters were glad to be received warmly at the Bishop’s house. After lunch and little rest, they visited a few places to find a temporary residence for the sisters. A house belonging to Smt. Milagrossa Behera was found to be suitable for our accommodation. However, it was not ready and hence sisters sought for another shelter from SABS sisters for a month and were gladly welcomed.
On 22nd June 2019, the three sisters started their mission with vigor and vitality. Sisters went around to explore a strategic place for their residence so that they can reach out to as many people as possible. They were guided and accompanied by Fr. Shanthi Chandan Pani, the V.C. of Rayagada Diocese during this period. When temporary residence was ready as per terms and conditions, the sisters shifted from SABS to the house of Smt. Milagrossa Behera. From then on, their mission focus was Ambedkar Nagar and Kothapetta areas. Ambedkar Nagar is a huge slum, thickly populated, mostly Telugu speaking community, living below poverty line, illiterate and unemployed, a great many are either Christians or Catholics. Kothapetta is slightly better than Ambedkar Nagar economically and literacy level. Majority of them are catholics.
The sisters got involved in various church activities right from the beginning. Though they do face a lot of inconveniences they are able to accept joyfully for the sake of the mission. Sisters still continued to explore a strategic spot from where they can effectively reach out to the poor and needy and strengthen their faith life. At last, through Mr. Varghese, a parishioner, they found an independent double bed room, which fulfilled the requirements. Sisters felt liberated to be in this independent house.
True to the statement of St. Paul “I planted the seed and Apollos watered it”, Srs. Sujatha Yeruva and Sujatha Mali got transfer and Srs. Bimla Beck, Leema Rose and Thresiamma Pappu are enjoying the fruits of pioneers’ labour, a beautiful new house Prasanthi Nilayam. Srs. Bimla Beck and Leema Rose are involved in the education ministry; teaching in a nearby school managed by the Congregation of the Mission (CM) fathers; while Sr. Tresa Pappu is involved in the socio– pastoral ministry. Our profound gratitude to Provincial Sr.C.T.Theresa Thomas and Council members Srs. Regina Chinnappa and Antonette Pereira for their initiative, support and encouragement in making this mission a reality.
Treasa Pappu FMM