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Msgr. Vadakkumpadan founded an organization and named it after his favorite saint, St. Joseph. He planned the school within Delhi, originally buying 18 acres of land.

“Before signing the papers I had prayed to St. Joseph to allow the deal to go through only if it was God’s will,” he says. “The deal went through and we seriously set about opening the school.”

The plan stalled two years later when the government informed the priest that he could not undertake any construction.

“Many said the money had gone down the drain. But I was sure St. Joseph would not let me down.”

After selling the property for twice the amount he had paid, the priest scouted for a larger plot in an area without the zoning restrictions that had halted the project’s progress. The search ended at Chandpur.

Meanwhile, Msgr. Vadakkumpadan contacted 28 superiors of various congregations of women religious in the Syro-Malabar Church asking for help. Ten responded, offering personnel and funds.

In 1996, San Joe Puram Children’s Village opened on a 27-acre plot. Its many homes shelter 106 girls with any number of special needs, including visual and hearing impairments; cerebral palsy or other developmental disorders; orphans; children of prisoners; and those who face other emotional or physical challenges. Now directed by the Rev. Sebastian Theckanath, the village is run by 36 sisters from 6 different congregations providing for the children’s needs.

At the heart of the village is a grotto dedicated to the patronal saint. “Coming to Chandpur was indeed a blessing from St. Joseph,” Msgr. Vadakkumpadan says.

Huddled around the grotto, stand Infant Jesus School, where some 1,300 children, including 100 girls from San Joe Puram, study, and the various houses for the children with special needs. Shaded by fruit trees and flowers, each house is entrusted to the respective congregations of sisters who support the village.

Sacred Heart Home shelters orphaned girls from the ages 3 to 18 under the loving guidance of four members of the Sacred Heart Sisters. The Sisters of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament care for hearing and speech impaired children at a home named Jeevandhara, or “flow of life.” Franciscan Clarist sisters work with developmentally and physically challenged girls at Vinayalaya, the “house of humility,” and another home named Rani Sadan, or “house of Rani.” India’s first community of women religious, the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel, run Chavara Sadan Girls’ Hostel, which provides a loving environment for children whose parents work farther afield.

The main complex also includes Bathsaida Hospital, which attends to the health needs of the children as well as people from surrounding villages.

An annex a few miles away is the site of San Joe Bhawan, a new facility staffed by the Preshitharam Sisters for women of 18 years and older in need of rehabilitative therapy. The Infant Jesus Kindergarten and a vocational training center are also nearby.

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