A moped and 10 bicycles for pastoral work in a new parish in India
When the Diocese of Eluru was founded in the state of Andhra Pradesh in 1977, there were just 25 parishes there with 90,000 Catholics. Today, there are 110 parishes and over 200,000 Catholic faithful. One of new parish is the Parish of Elurupadu, which is still quite new and which has 10 outstations. Quite recently, there were some 3,500 Catholics in the parish, but their numbers are growing rapidly, and now there are no fewer than 250 people preparing to receive baptism!
The people here are very poor. There are no proper access roads to the villages, and people have to travel long distances on foot in order to purchase the basic necessities of life. Entire families are living in small straw huts, and there is no running water. The people generally work as day laborers and have to live from hand to mouth. Even the children are forced to work on the fields of the big landowners, herding the cattle of the rich or slaving away as servants and messengers, with no chance to go to school. On average, most families earn less than $1 a day – and they are often cheated even of this meager wage, resulting in the whole family having to go to bed on an empty stomach.
“I see their daily struggle for survival and I feel their pain with them, for I myself grew up in the same situation. I am very moved by their faith and I want to do everything in my power to help them to escape from this situation," says Father Yesudasu, who himself comes from a Dalit family – the so-called "Untouchables" – the people on the very bottom rung of the ladder in Indian society.
Yet he is proud of his parents. "Although my parents were poor, as day laborers in the fields they were rich in their Catholic faith. Perhaps it was their faith and their prayers that motivated me to follow my vocation and be ordained as a priest. Thanks to the grace of God, I am successful in preaching the Word of God and in leading souls who yearn for this to the Kingdom of God.”
“There are a great many souls here who are seeking guidance along the way in the presence of God. And so it is my greatest goal to bring the Word of God to those who most need it and most deserve it. My father died when I was just six years old; my elder brother also died and the son of my eldest brother has died, too. This happened when I was still little, but I still feel the loss. And yet I feel that God will always be with me, helping me to carry out the work in His vineyard."
There are 10 catechists also helping him in his work, for the distances are considerable and the priest cannot be everywhere at once. The catechists help by visiting the sick, instructing people in the Faith, preparing them for reception of the sacraments. They pray with them, lead liturgies of the Word and other prayers and meditations and instruct them in the catechism.
Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to send Father Yesudasu $1,600 to make it easier for him and his catechists to reach the Catholic faithful. With this he was able to purchase a bicycle for each of the 10 catechists and a moped for himself, since he has to travel more than any of them. Now they no longer have to spend so much time making the difficult journeys and thus have more time to spend with the people themselves.
Father Yesudasu sends us his heartfelt thanks: "The brotherly love that you have shown us is a way of helping Christ and helping to spread his Good News. Your generous hands are very precious to us, for they have renewed us in our devotion to the service of the poor, the oppressed and the disadvantaged, so that they can become a spirit-filled and spirit-led community.”
“May God give His special grace to you and all our benefactors. Please pray for us. We thank you all, with joy and love, for your service of friendship."
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