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Prayerful greetings from India. May all be well with you. May the Good Lord shower His choicest graces upon you and reward a hundredfold and more your service to humanity. Before I proceed further, I would like to introduce myself.
I am an Indian diocesan priest of the Catholic Diocese of Salem, in Tamil Nadu. I am 66 years old - a priest for 38 years - interested in reading, preaching and uplifting the poor. I am presently the parish priest of Pettai palayam, the farthest parish in the diocese.
Pettai palayam is a remote village parish about 75 kilometres from the diocesan centre, Salem City. There are 200 families in this parish, and all are devout Catholics. They are economically very poor and added to that, they belong to the scheduled or low caste - God forbid this caste system in India! They are daily labourers, working for a low wage. A man is paid two dollars and a woman is paid one dollar per day.
The church is dedicated to St Cecily while St Sebastian is the co- patron. There are three mission stations attached to this parish.
There is a middle school under the management of the diocese of Salem with 220 students along with seven staff members. Only 20 out of the 220 are Catholics. The remaining 200 belong to different religions. But they all have respect and regard towards Christianity.
All of them come from the neighbouring hamlets and in general are really poor and in need of our support for their continued education, for example, writing materials like pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, exercise and note books, medals, rosaries, holy pictures, etc.
Would some good-hearted people among your readers be prepared to lend a helping hand to these poor children and so have a share in their education?
I do promise to keep you all in my daily prayers and Masses. May the Lord bless you abundantly for any kind gesture extended towards these poor children.
FR S. JOHN JOSEPH
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 21 No 10 (November 2008), p. 14
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