“Christmas is the perfect time to celebrate the love of God and family and to create memories that will last forever. Jesus is God’s perfect, indescribable gift. The amazing thing is that not only are we able to receive this gift, but we are able to share it with others at Christmas and every other day of the year.
To share this Christmas joy we the Vidyaniketan community joined our hands together to spread Christ’s love to the poor and the downtrodden.
Under the patronage of our beloved Superior, Fr Prashanth Wesley D’Souza, we chose the village named “Benachina Maradi”.Benachina Maradi is a hamlet which is 25 km away from the city of Belagaavi, Karnataka. We had our experience from 10-17 of December,2016.
We lived in an area surrounded by the Protestant sect who, though poor, were rich in faith in and devotion to Jesus Christ.
The people here are Christians, but due to their low caste status they are discriminated against. Their stories are very painful to hear. They were living their life as slaves and untouchables until they were awakened by their leader Kashavva by name.
Kashavva is a woman who is strong mentally, physically, psychologically and in faith. She has been the binding force for all of them. They also have a small church where they have services on Sunday when a Protestant pastor comes and breaks the word to them. Their faith is unshakable. Their prayer is solid like a rock.
They were very welcoming when we arrived. The very lifestyle of our Jesuits was liked by them, as we prayed and worked in proper proportion.
Some of us used to go to the government school to teach children and make them aware of the importance of cleanliness. We even had a day’s shramadana inspiring children to be clean and to keep their village clean.
We also conducted charismatic kind of prayers to give them more of Jesus Christ. They were inspired by our way of praying and we too incorporated their ways. Bible classes were regularly taken every morning. The mesmerizing thing about this was that they were at their best when it came to Biblical knowledge. We even welcomed them to attend the holy mass in which they took part actively by constant singing of bhajans and songs.
We cooked our food ourselves and even gave a grand meal to the whole village.There was a lot contributed by the scholastics with regard to faith and cleanliness There was also a cultural programmer given by us which highlighted the mercy of the Lord and the aspect of social evils.
This experience has truly awakened the Jesuit spirit in us. It has strengthened our vocation and spiritual life. Truly it was a time of grace when we could prepare for Christmas and get along in our Jesuit life with full life and spirit.