5 February 2013
Father Edison visits with one of the parishioners in a nearby village. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
Being a priest in India brings with it special challenges, as we reported in 2005:
Sitting in the foyer of their simple rectory, a small concrete house, the priests sipped coconut water and prepared for Sunday liturgy at their compound in the town of Vattakarickam. Services would be held at St. Mary Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, the largest of the compound’s three buildings.
This Sunday’s duties were a welcome respite from the heavy travel of most Sundays, when they celebrate six liturgies — three each — driving 20 miles of winding dirt roads between churches. All told, about 1,000 people attend the priests’ Sunday liturgies.
But about once a month, Father Edison and Father John concelebrate at St. Mary’s, host a feast and arrange classes for children. About 200 parishioners attend and the festivities end in the late afternoon. And this Sunday, they would be joined by Father Abraham Parappallil, a catechist.
Fathers Edison and John live in relative isolation, far from the bustle of Trivandrum, the state capital and the seat of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, where both spent 10 years at St. Mary’s Seminary.
Life is ascetic. There are no sizable towns nearby, just farmland and small, poor low-caste communities.
Both priests rarely see their families, who live between 30 and 60 miles away, an imposing distance by dirt roads especially during the rainy season.
“When I first came here four years ago, I was bored,” said Father Edison, who like Father John had an urban, middle-class upbringing. “I am an energetic person. But now, I feel that the nature that surrounds us has something to tell me. When the sun rises through the forest each morning, it puts me in a meditative mood.”
In the morning, before the faithful arrived, Father Edison visited some of the villages in the area. The villages are poor, typically a collection of huts clustered around a well.
“There are mainly low-caste Hindus in the area,” Father Edison said.
Read more on Village Priests in the November 2005 issue of ONE.
Tags: India Poor/Poverty Indian Christians Indian Catholics Syro-Malankara Catholic Church