Mass stipends for the Congregation of the "Little Flower" in India
The “Little Flower” is the familiar name by which Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, or Therese of Lisieux, is known. This French Carmelite nun died in 1897, when she was just 24 years old. But despite her youth and her obscurity while she lived, she was quickly proclaimed a saint and raised, just 100 years after her death, to the status of Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II.
Today, she is revered today by millions, and her "Little Way" of love is likewise renowned as a spirituality marked by absolute and childlike trust in the boundless love of God and the refusal to be discouraged by one's own weakness and empty hands. It means that we are not called to extraordinary deeds of heroism in order to be loved by God, but simply that everything we do should be done out of love.
This "Little Way" quickly spread across the globe, and in the state of Kerala in southern India, it touched in particular a priest by the name of Thomas Panat, better known as "Father Basil." He translated the famous journal of Saint Therese, the Story of a Soul, over 80 years ago and was ever more deeply penetrated by the spirit that Jesus describes in the Gospel, when He says "Unless you become like little children, you will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven."
He was so profoundly moved by this spirituality that he decided to walk this way, together with other priests. Already by 1931, with the permission of his bishop, he had joined together with a group of other young men in order to live in this spirit. From this community, in 1947, was born the Congregation of the Little Flower. Father Basil died in 1976 at the age of 85, having also been influenced by his contact with Mahatma Gandhi and his closeness to the poor.
Today the Congregation of the Little Flower now has a membership in India of almost 300 priests, devoted to the service of the poor, the elderly, the orphaned, the sick and the disadvantaged, and those living in remote and inaccessible regions.
Since the members of the congregation receive no payment for their many services, they sometimes struggle to support themselves. As a result, the Superior of the Province of Saint Thomas wrote to ACN requesting Mass Stipends for 72 of his priests, and we pledged to assist them. Now we would like to give thanks for the generosity of our benefactors, who have donated 800 Mass offerings and helped the good work of the Congregation of the Little Flower to continue.