SERVING THE POOREST IN THE CONTEXT OF A PANDEMIC
Sr. Lucy Kottarathil, DW
Pope Francis said “Christians are not prophetic in the way they talk but in the way they serve others. If you want a prophetic church, stay quiet and start serving. We are not to become rich but rather to love the poor. We are not to save up for ourselves but to spend ourselves for others.”
We have a responsibility to help those around us and help others in need.
During this lockdown, we have taken the advice of our Holy Father very seriously and it has given us a unique passion for JPC and to the call of our life to serve others. It is an invitation to open our hearts to love others without any boundaries. It is time to let go and it is time to set ourselves firmly in the footsteps of our founders.
Since the beginning of February, India has become more aware of the poor who are most vulnerable to this pandemic. It has caused enormous impact on the health of the economy as well as national security. As we face this ongoing tension across the globe and it is affecting millions of lives. Knowing the consequence of this pandemic, we reflected on the words of Marie Louise who said never to forget the poor.
The Indian province has rendered its service to the poor, in different ways, and has reached the people who were suffering. It served a number of poor people who do not have access to food in order to get one meal a day. By doing this, we follow the spirit of Montfort and Marie Louise. Montfort said that if you do not take the risk for God, you do nothing for him. The sisters drew inspiration from the founder, taking risks for their own lives as they went around the streets of Bangalore and distributed food kits and other needs to the poor.
Celebration of the arrival of Marie Louise to St Laurent
In order to celebrate the arrival of Marie Louise to St Laurent, the provincial council decided to have a small celebration. Our celebration would not have been meaningful unless we shared this with the poor. Each community from Bangalore generously shared from their social work money and bought rice, dhal, sugar and oil. The sisters from different communities gathered at the provincial house to celebrate the arrival of Marie Louise to St Laurent and we had a joyful celebration and holy Eucharist presided over by the Rev. Fr. Joseph SMM, the Provincial of Montfort Fathers. Although we had a simple celebration, we were able to share our love and concern for one another and also had the joy of sharing with the poor what we have.
Due to this pandemic, the entire world is undergoing pain, distress and hardship. There is uncertainty about the future. Everyone fears the financial fallout of the pandemic. During this time, JPC reminds us to have a stronger solidarity with the people suffering around the world.
The pandemic has also created our own barriers that have been blocking us from going beyond ourselves as individuals, as a community, as a congregation and as a united world. World leaders cannot gather to discuss their vision and mission in order to make an action plan as well as long term goals for the future
During Lent, the sisters of Lagasse community saved some money from the Lent sacrifices which we generously shared with the poorest of the poor who are the most vulnerable to COVID19. The community felt the joy of being one with the poor and the Lent sacrifices helped us open our hearts to see the suffering of people around us.
We collaborate with the Dream India network and two sisters are employed as staff full time. During the lockdown, a few sisters helped and provided their services to the Dream India network to help pack rice, dhal, oil, sugar, wheat and vegetables which they distributed to the poor.
India was able to maintain and control the pandemic in the beginning, but now it increases day by day and has rapidly spread all over India. Statistics reveal that there are 75,000 new cases daily of Corona virus and the government of India is struggling to cope with the situation.
For the last few months, there are some states that have made great efforts in stopping the spread of the virus especially Mrs Shailaja, the Health Minister of Kerala. She made tremendous efforts to curb the virus throughout the state. As soon as the Minister saw articles about Corona virus emerging in Wuhan, China, she knew that she had to be prepared for it and immediately called the Health Secretary to take the precautions needed. Her objective was to not lose any lives to the virus. Minister Shailaja is recognized for successfully handling India’s first three positive Corona virus patients. Along with the Kerala government, she worked hard to trace the infected people and isolated them and helped to contain the virus from spreading throughout Kerala. She was honored by the United Nations on Public Service Day 2020 and she received international recognition for her handling of the deadly virus during the first phrase of the outbreak. Women often experience disparity with men in many areas of life but in the last few years, women have achieved and contributed to the growth of society within their country and throughout the world. This and many other factors makes us proud to be women and key contributors to society.