December, cold month… and different month
On the first days of December, Brothers who came from Tamil Nadu for the holidays were helping us especially in vocation promotion as well as taking some lessons in the Schools. The first day of this month was Sunday, Brothers went for the “fishing of men” to the Schools hostels which are nearer: Samtoli and Rengarih.
After long struggles, it came a time for the marking of the land which will be later given to us. It was a sunny day so the three Brothers who were working there, were half burnt in the sun while they were marking the land, even the servants of the Parish could not bear the scorching sun.
Another day, some Brothers traveled to the Diocese of Gumla because they have to finish the sponsorships from the NGO Carumanda; on this day, the Brothers who came from Tamil Nadu were teaching in Primary School.
The Brothers’ holidays are coming to an end on 4th, and, as Bro. Subash’s house is near to Rourkela, they went early to visit his house and then to the railway station. His house was in the middle of a jungle where there is no electricity or phone tower. It was a rough and tough road with lots of ups and downs. Bro. Suresh, his companion, could not imagine a life it is possible there, then he suggested him not go there next holidays but to go with him to his house, where there is better road and is more safe. We could only receive a message form the Superior in that evening saying that they were in the middle of a jungle, though they did not see any elephant or bear, etc. Brothers arrived in the Community at 9.15pm, and then they took supper.
For Christmas there are lots of programs organized in the Parish. Parish Priests were celebrating Mass in different villages every day as preparation of Christmas (for Advent). They were busy in this matter. Brothers found time to meet the Bishop of Simdega for the land matter, because it was very necessary. On 7th Brothers went for purchase some Christmas decoration, but unfortunately Bro. Selvan and Bro. Efra slipped from the two-wheeler, fell down, but they were luckily not wounded; the problem was that it took place in the middle of Kurdeg (bus stand) so that everyone took notice of it. Almost all the carpentry works are finished. The next day –Sunday- we had Recollection Day in the Pastoral Center of Simdega, where we spent most of the day.
On 10th we had special supper: we were trying to grill some pieces of beef…, the result was not bad. Exams were started in all the Schools. The next day, Parish Priest instructed us not to go out in the evening and to go to sleep early for MCC men shot a man in Kurdeg at 3.30pm. Our prayers were hurried on that evening. On 14th Bro. Efra and Bro. Raja went to give some scholarships in the Diocese of Khunti; then they visited the Calazancian Sisters and Patka, a remote place where Fr. Alfaro (Piarist) was staying and building a school –now unfinished; there Brothers found the majestic statue of the Holy Family sponsored by Eluru Community. Bro. Abhay came with us till Simdega so he could bring solar panel and inverter that we bought in Simdega.
Christmas Gathering of Religious and Diocesan Priests was held at Tainser parish. We celebrated as a family; everyone –religious and priests- were asked to express our view of Christmas at the end in a tone of prayer. On 19th we had community meeting about the Christmas Programs and Holidays; by this time all the exams were over. The following day at our Parish there was All Christian Churches Gathering where GEL, WMC, RC and some other small community churches gathered together. All expressed their Christmas wishes, later some competitions were held with the donation of some prizes.
21st was the last working day of the year, some Brothers went to prepare greeting cards in Simdega and then gave a greeting of Christmas to the Bishop. The next day a Christmas Gathering was organized by the Youth in Sarapmunda, village nearby Kurdeg. We, together with a Priest and some Sisters including the driver, were 12 persons in a Mahindra Bolero. There we sung Christmas Carols. The next day Brothers distributed Christmas greetings with a cake and calendar. On 24th we could not feel as Christmas; it was a different Christmas for us (at least for some members of the Community). In the evening we went to Parish and Convent to sing some carols in front of the cribs. At night, in the Vigil Mass, some were helping in distributing Holy Communion and some were playing instruments in the choir. We went to sleep very early morning (or late in the night). For the morning Mass also some Brothers attended and were helping. We played cricket in the evening; this Christmas was totally different from other years in the community of Madurai. We greeted Christmas Festivals both the Communities of Eluru and Madurai. On 26th Bro. Efra started his trip to Eluru. What boring days we are spending: no school, no place to go, no cinema… Some could not feel as if it were in Christmas time. On 29th no vehicles were moving so Bro. Abhay left for home by bicycle. At present we were three in community; in the evening we had a community walk. On 30th December, the Holy Mass was at 6.30am. On the last day of the year we connected our solar panel and inverter which gave light to all the rooms. On 31st December, we were little upset because there was no Vigil Mass at night, only in the new Year Morning Mass.
|A Change can change|
Our small Community still finds the will of God which unites our wills and moves us as one among His will with all our strengths and weaknesses, but especially with all His Blessings.
It was holiday, 1st of October, but a raining day too; our Community went for fishing to the dam, and there we get always tiny fish. On October 4 we started our inter-class matches of football in the High School; there was also a team of teachers where Brothers played in it and they went into semifinal. Due to the retreat of other priests the first week of this month, on Sunday there was only one priest in the parish who celebrated 1st and 2nd Mass. Our Brothers were asked to distribute Holy Communion.
After the arrival of parish priest everything went as a routine, but a phone call from some unwanted person that perturbed the Priests of the parish as well as us, made a priest come to our house as a refuge and he stayed here till night, then he went to parish room. For some days we were advised to be careful in going out and to go to sleep little earlier switching off generator and lights.
Sudden change of climate in northern part of India by the cyclone, and heavy downpour we could not move anywhere. Few people in the Sunday Mass, lots of phone calls from our families asking for our well-being, etc. These things did not disturb us much, and especially our time table of prayer and other activities could be done at home as scheduled. As it was also time of harvest many paddy fields were full of water and grains were spoiled, so we were asked to pray for the farmers’ needs in their difficult moments.
In the middle of this month our Community had a Recollection Day. The Superior of the Daughter of St. Ann’s Community to reflect on the sense of Religious Life with her talks and her experiences. On 18th of this month our Superior with the Delegate in India, Bro. Justo Rubio, arrived in our house. We were very happy to have them again in our Community.
This “canonical” visit had been fruitful for our Community: a special thing we had is that we introduced in our Chapel the Tabernacle with the Holy Sacrament –authorized by the Bishop,- and we celebrated the first Eucharist in our Community. A day before a strike in Jharkhand we dropped Bro. Justo in Raurkela on 24th October. Our Community helped him with means that we could afford and that we can get.
We had Community meeting with all the members of the Community especially of sharing the experiences and difficulties of our Community in the absence of the Superior. We also took note of the tasks that should be carried out in the following days.
Last week of this month, a Sister and an aspirant came for vocation promotion from Andhra Pradesh, who were the neighbors in beginning of the Holy Family Brothers in AP. We helped them in finding vocations here as they helped us.
These days were getting cooler in the morning, darker in the evening yet we adopt ourselves with our timetable. Besides teaching our Brothers are in training the students as a physical education teacher for Sports and games, in particular Hockey in the Middle School, which next week there will be one week competitions and tournaments of different schools here in Kurdeg parish.
May the Lord help us to find the work our hands for the better of our Community and the people of this place. May the Holy Family and Venerable Brother Gabriel Taborin, our Founder, guide us in all our daily activities and bless them all.
|The Community of Kurdeg|
End that leaves always for a Beginning
(From Monsoon to Harvest)
In the presence of the Lord and with the guidance of the Angels our life moves under the humble roof of the Holy Family. We are settled in the new house and with a small chapel to pray.
It is a special month for us living as more responsible as Holy Family Brother. All works that we did as if our Brother Superior might have been here. We, young Brothers, were continuing our timetables taking care of the new House. It was a Sunday that the first day of this month is remembered as St. Monica’s day; this is celebrated as Mother’s day here. From all the villages which belong to this parish of Khalijor came. As there were so many, our Brothers were distributing the Holy Communion. Many programs were held especially for the mothers. We were guests and judge for some of them.
As we were in the new house everything we did here, except meals in the Parish. We were searching for a cook. On 3rd of this month we ordered milk then invited Parish Priest and Sisters for a cup of milk and coffee. Here there is one more new neighbor, a calf buffalo; we were thinking to get some milk from the buffalo; poor him, he was not giving milk for his own, how could we get for us?
On September 5th is celebrated Teacher’s day in India. There were special programs in all the Schools; it was soon after the Eucharist. This was a new custom that all the students were singing and leading us under a shade of colorful umbrellas to the Schools. Following day we ourselves started to cook in our house each day one Brother.
On 7th was the School day of Nirmala High School where two of our Brothers are working; after the mass all the programs were held, even meal for all the students and teachers. The following day, Sunday, was a hard working day, for we cleaned whole house till the evening. Next day was the birthday of a Brother, so we prepared supper and brought it to the Parish House and celebrated his birthday with the Fathers.
Bro. Xavier, vocation promoter, started his journey to our Community on 10th. At the same time, a new cook started his work in the kitchen from evening. There was network problem: some creatures had their nest in the phone tower as it is dangerous, building of new towers started. We were little worried about Bro. Xavier because we did not know how he was going to arrive. As here there is no proper transport system, two of our Brothers hired a vehicle to pick him up form Raurkela because he did not know how to come from there to our Community.
As he came here, there was lot of fest and “bandh” or strikes stating form a martyr feast, a diocesan priest who was killed by Hindu fanatics. There were thousand and thousand people as pilgrims gathered there, our Brothers also were present there with the celebration of Holy Mass with four Bishops. These days we started to play inter-class football matches in High School; our Brothers, priests as well staffs were one team; it was interesting that everyone enjoyed much.
On 13th vocation promotion started from Nirmala High School; it was afternoon that some good number of students gave their names soon after that football matches for the girls started. The last hour of the class was spared for the matches. Following day we had community meeting especially on the vocational visits to Schools, Brothers made a schedule.
On Sunday it was downpour as we were praying in the morning a thunder which fell near the house threatened us. The whole day it was raining. It was sudden strike in Jharkhand for three days so all the plan for the vocational trips we postponed to another day of that month. The next day we were preparing drainage for the rainwater, sometime our house was flooded. These days we had lot of hours for praying, preparing lessons…, some occasions we went for fishing though we got nothing.
These days it rained cats and dogs, everywhere water was overflowing, in some occasion we needed to pray, work and play. Besides all strikes and rains, Brothers started vocation visits on 18th leaving some far schools and finished on 20th. The next day there was strike, no vehicles were moving; we hired a car at our own risk; one of our Brothers went with him to drop Bro. Xavi in Raurkela. It was a long trip that they needed to go through Chhattisgarh, which is another state, to reach the railway station.
His presence in our community was a joyous moment as we were sharing our happiness and struggles together. Our Brothers were asked to give retreat for the High School Boys and Girls for three days, these were special moments for our Brothers, they were preparing it a lot. This was a new experience for them.
There was a state level football match in Kurdeg on 25th, which changed our Schools Timetables for one week; the first day our Community went to watch one as a Chief Guest for the Match. On 27th we heard that our Bro. Efra had arrived safe and sound in India. On 29th there was great celebration called “Naya Khani” which is the first grain of the Harvest; it was brought to the Church, the Feast day of Parish Priest Fr. Raphael on the day of Archangels and evening “Karma” feast. Our Brothers were helping in Mass and distributing the Holy Communion. Every Sunday we are having some visitors form the Parish who offer us something that they have. Here Eucharist is the center of all the Feasts and Festivals, everything begins with Eucharist or a Prayer which shows that God is pouring his blessings in all they do.
Thus our small Community moves everyday life under the light of the Holy Family and the guidance of Angels.
The Community of Kurdeg.
|Home, sweet home|
With the Grace of the Lord, under the protection of the Holy Family, we are proceeding everyday life. This is an important month for us because the promise of the House being ready is getting near, we celebrate important feasts such as our Province Feast, the Brothers’ Golden Jubilees and in a special way the 67th Independence Day of our Nation. This is a month of feasts and celebrations.
As we are in the monsoon season, in every aspect works are going slow and weak, the mornings are darker than before, and we could hardly see the priests celebrating Eucharist in a dark place with candles in the Church. Thus it started the first day of this month with a drunker that disturbed while we were doing our meditation, early in the morning he greeted us with a loud “Good evening” as well singing in high voice. That same evening we had community meeting on Personal and Community prayer.
The first weak is fully dedicated for plantation of paddy (‘Ropa ropne’), both schools, High and Middle Schools, were taken for plantation. For the Independence Day, this Parish of Kurdeg conducts every year sports for the youngsters of the villages. This Sunday some of our Brothers went to Simdega to collect the CD sent by Eluru Brothers for the scholarship, but it was not possible to get, and just we bought gifts for the Fathers because it was the feast of St John Mary Vianney, here is a custom to present gifts.
We celebrated the feast of St John Mary Vianney on 5th of this month; we too gave a small gift as other religious as well as lay people. This day was holyday for the school just after the mass all the students were sent home. These days, the Brothers have to work a lot in the schools, teaching for the exams which will be held at the end of this month besides plantation, sports and parade for the Independence Day.
This time more than the High School, the Middle School worked in the paddy land, our Brothers also learnt how to plant paddy; it has been a great experience to know the work and the culture of these people here. Though it is raining everyone takes their own umbrella and plant in paddy land with it. Few days it had been nonstop rain at night with heavy sounds of thunder and lightning we could not sleep at nights.
On the day of Ramadan feast of Islam, our community went for fishing in an open well that belongs to Fathers with our hooks, from 08:00 am to 11:30 am; we got two tiny fish nothing else. We went to Simdega for getting the CD from the Bishop house as we got we also met some Religious Sisters of the Perpetual Help. We bought things for our dining hall; we ran out of money so we had debit in the shop. To come back to our house we tightened our belts.
All the schools were very conscious in practicing parade in the schools ground, the funniest thing is the marching of KG students, they were the heroes of parade. Though they distract the whole people everyone enjoys because they do their best in it. In a moment we could not get some money in the Bank, but always there are some people to help us by God’s grace. There has been little understanding of tradition of this place by the Community; our Brothers were the referees of football matches. It is scheduled like this: for the boys Hockey and for the girls Football. There were good numbers of villages that played in the Parish. Our Community was supporting the village of Hatta (a Parish Street). On 13th we went to Kunkuri, in another state, to buy things for our little chapel in a shop near Maha Grija Cathedral.
It was 14th we were invited by a friend driver who at our peck and call to play for our Parish in Kurdeg with other teams. It was semifinal; two of our Brothers played and won semifinal football match. August 15th is a special day in India we celebrated the 67th Independence Day, it is our Province Feast day of Our Lady of the Assumption. Mass was little later, many brought a cross for the blessing which will be placed in their own paddy land. Soon after the Mass, hosting the flag and March Parade were held. The final matches were conducted on this day; as we support Hatta, they won the football match; the prize of the match was a goat. It was our chance to play football final match at evening for Parish in Kurdeg. We all played except a Brother who was encouraging as in the ground with Fathers, teachers, students and huge number of people. We got the runner cups and medals. The thing is our team got more cups than the winners.
The prize we got is the appreciation of the people; many came to know more about the Holy Family Brothers in Khalijor, than the cups we obtained. That was a happy day with heavy body pains, we applied medicine and slept though some could not do so. We continued our prayer with a dog in the morning and flies, mosquitoes at evening. Next day of Independence bandh in Chhattisgarh for the death of a ‘prince’; many did not come to School. It is not possible to get anything or everything in Kurdeg so always needed to go to capital of District or another city to buy things for the house.
On 18th we bought things for the kitchen in Simdega and paid our debts, for dining table and kitchen tables we needed to go to another place. It was long process for us to get a gas cylinder for cooking, by all means we progressed. Several days Brothers have to go to Simdega for getting certain documents and even verifying them with an Advocate.
Brothers have to even leave some hours of the class to finish the matters of house quickly. As it was raining, painting works delayed. It was necessity to get diesel for our house; Brothers went in a vehicle without license. On 21st of this month Exams started in High school, Brothers were little busy in it. We had to do many things as soon as possible before Bro. Superior leaves Community. Brother went to Simdega with Parish Priest to invite Bishop for the blessing of the house. On 25th all we went to Simdega to buy vegies and edibles for cooking with Sisters who helped us in purchasing. On 27th the day after the Birthday of Bro. Abhay, was the blessing of the house. Bishop came in time for the mass, students of the schools, staffs and people were also in the blessing of house. It is a custom here for any or every celebration all have to be invited, invitations are to be respected.
By the grace of the Lord and the help of people, blessings were over that afternoon; some Brothers went to get kitchen tables and dining table for our House to Tapkara, but we could not get. Fathers and Sisters from various places came for the blessing of the house. Hostels boys were helping in transporting things from our class dormitory to our new house.
On 28th is holyday, we shifted our beds to our house with the aid of hostel boys. Bro. Superior is preparing to leave. All of us we went to Raurkela to drop him. We had supper there near the station. We came back to Kurdeg and slept for the first time in our new house.
[ we = community] [went = hiring vehicle]
Bros. Raja & Selvan.
|Life in Kurdeg|
This is a month of life source because here people depend on rain water for the harvest rather than any other thing, so if no rains no life. It is not like other places to switch for watering fields. Our Community had lots of fights with mosquitoes. Every day it rains cats and dogs some time as downpours water. This change of weather makes our Community tasks be hard, to get up at morning for Eucharist and to carry an umbrella with the Bible always. The sun is weaker in these days; this not only dulls Brothers in prayers at certain occasions but to teach in classrooms which are really very dark. It is like “Hide and See” game, every time Brothers have to find out the students and to know what they are doing.
Some of our Brothers got malaria which is a common high fever for all. The Brothers go for injection to the dispensary of the Sisters. Every day we sleep under the protection of a mosquito net, but these small creatures are able of entering inside and disturbing whole night.
On 14th Sunday our Community had an outing to Kunkuri (in Chhattisgarh) to visit the Cathedral “Maha Grija” and to buy things for our little future Chapel but the shop was closed. We met Rev. Bishop Immanuel Kerketa, the Secretary and there we find some relatives of Bro. Sandip.
Two of our Brothers, Bro. Abhay and Bro. Sandip were in need of submitting their mark sheets and other certificates, so started their journey to Madurai Community. It is a three days journey. After getting their required documents in College, visits to the hospital and staying in Madurai Community for two days, they started their journey to come back to our Community. The train ticket was unreserved, they had heavy luggage with that by seated in the stairs of the train they continued their journey in a crowded train. They reached our Community safe and sound with heavy luggage and empty purse as well as very tired.
Meanwhile in their options, The little community of Brothers Bro. Efra, Bro. Selvan and Bro. Raja not having much knowledge of Hindi especially Sadri which is the common local language. There was a borehole lorry for our house there was no Parish priests here. In the school all the teachers were taken for retreat around three days. In the Primary, Middle and High school there was only two Brothers and two teachers who took care of the Schools. These were horrible days for us.
In Jharkhand 26th July is an important day because is the feast of St. Joachim and Anne. It is the feast day of the Congregation of Daughters of St. Anne’s of Ranchi; most of schools in this State are run by these Sisters. In the Parish there was a program which came to end by a heavy downpour without the final speech of Sr Superior. This rain had been unexpected for the cultivation here. On this day only our Brothers who were travelling arrived at our Community. We all celebrated this feast with the Sisters remembering our Founder’s devotion to St. Anne.
Naturally in monsoon time here the people used to fish. There is a pond near our future land which, when it is over flooded, everyone comes for fishing with nets and hooks or whatever. Our Community also went there to fish as we do not have fishing net, we took our mosquito net for fishing; after a long time we got a little tiny fish out of the Pakka pond. During these days the prayer of our Rosary is done under umbrellas, and yet we ask our Mother Mary for more rain!!
The last week of this month was fully spent in plantation especially the whole High School was taken for plantation of paddy. Some part of this harvest money is used for the salary of the teachers. The Schools of Sisters, Primary and Middle Schools, do the same every year so Brothers have also the task of taking care of students while they work in the field even Brothers work with them in paddy lands that belong the Sisters or the Parish Church.
With the help of Jesus, Mary and Joseph under the humble roof of Nazareth, we proceed every day with our duties and mission.
Bro. A. Raja
A chronicle from the Community of Kurdeg – Simdega (Jharkhand-India)
Namaste! Today it is 18th July, 2013, not a meaningful date for many people, but for us, Brothers of the Holy Family who form the Community of Kurdeg (Jharkhand), is the beginning of our first month in this remote but beautiful place of India.
Our Community started its adventure on 18th June, 2013, when all the Brothers gathered for the tea time of the afternoon. Some Brothers –Sandip and Abhay- were here days ago, others –Efraim, Raja and Selvan- came from the Community of Eluru, after a long and tedious journey in train, then from Rourkela to Simdega and finally to Kurdeg by car.
Kurdeg is a very small village from the Simdega district, Jharkhand state. Its population is living scattered in different places of the landscape of this area. Mostly the people are Christians, but it is also found some Hindus and Muslims. This land of Kurdeg has a long tradition of being Christianized by the Jesuit Fathers coming from Belgium and Netherlands at the end of XIX and beginning of XX century.
When the Brothers arrived to Kurdeg, they were very well heartily welcomed by the diocesan Fathers and the Religious Community of Daughters of St Anne of Ranchi. The Brothers were lodged in a classroom belonging to the boys’ Primary and Middle School. The classroom is to be in future a computer classroom. All the meals of the Community take place in the residence of the priests, sharing with them not only food but life and work also. The house for the Community is being built, not yet finished, and we hope in no more than one month it will be completed. This house is also inside the compound of the Mission of the Parish of Kurdeg, nearby the stable of the buffalos.
In this Mission of Kurdeg, there are the residence of the priests, the church and the boys’ primary and middle school; the residence of the Sisters of St Anne along with the dispensary and the girls’ primary and middle school (also some secondary classes) are in the same Mission place; the secondary school (Nirmala High Secondary School) for boys and girls is some metres separated from the compound wall of the Mission. The Brothers are teaching both in boys’ primary and middle school and in the Nirmala High Secondary School. The timetable for the school starts at 08:30 am and finishes at 15:30 pm; Tuesdays and Saturdays there is only half day school.
The teaching process is very hard. Firstly students are not much motivated for studies (the medium of instruction is Hindi, but the students’ common language is Sadri), secondly there are many students per classroom (I’m not exaggerating when I say that there are classrooms with more than 100 students); thirdly in the school there is not electricity, and in some classrooms is very difficult to teach when it is dark; besides some classrooms have not tables, chairs or desks, and the youngest students are all of them seated on the floor… Well, though not much pedagogic, sometimes the use of a stick, as a way of threatening, is also necessary… The students of primary and middle school receive free meals during the lunch time (rice, dhal curry and a kind of vegetable).
The timetable of the Community is very simple: At 04:30 the bells of the Church are ringing, but some Brothers are not getting up until 05:00 more or less. The Holy Eucharist is at 05:30 (every day), preceded by the morning prayer in Hindi conducted by girls and boys of the hostel; after the Mass, we have our Morning Prayer and meditation (outside because we have no chapel). Breakfast is generally at 07:15 and then working time until the moment for lunch at 12:30; the lessons are resumed at 13:00 until 15:30. After we have some personal work and sports or walking and at 17:00 is the tea time. At 18:15 we have our Evening Prayer and then Rosary. Supper is at 19:30 approximately and after supper recreation and watching the news. At 21:00 we have personal night prayer and then going to bed…
And this is our life, more or less, for the first month that we are living here in this place of Kurdeg, in this new mission of our Congregation in India, and our first educational mission experience for the Indian Brothers of the Holy Family. May Vble. Brother Gabriel and the Holy Family bless our mission work and our Community and inspire us the way to build up the Kingdom of God according to the tradition and charism of our Institute.
Bro. Efraim Gonzalez, FSF