We are beginning to live in a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion and mercy, how to suffer with others, how to love. Today’s world is quite familiar with the word indifference. Which means closing one’s eyes and heart to the needs of others. We have celebrated the ‘Year of Mercy” but the acts of mercy need to be part of everyday living of our Christian vocation.
Mathew 5: 7 reads “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”. The tradition of the Church speaks of two sets of the works of Mercy: corporal and spiritual. The corporal works of mercy are taken practically from the discourse of Jesus on the last Judgment (cf Mt 25: 31 – 45) where Jesus indicates to the blessed that whatever they did to the least of the brothers and sisters in need they did actually to him, thus identifying himself with the poor and the suffering people. Spiritual works of mercy focus once again on the wellbeing and happiness of the humans. Pope Francis invited us to celebrate a jubilee year of mercy. He is showing by word and example how it should be done. He is reaching out to the poor and the abandoned.
A Great missionary and visionary of 19 century Spain, St. Antony Mary Claret, responded to the call of God because of the love of Christ impelled him. A great saint who had the Heart and Eye of God in a time when world was moving towards consumerism. He was able to translate the love of God according to the signs of the times. He made use of means which are timely, urgent and effective to spread the love of Christ in all the places he went. He was successful because all his works of charity, preaching, writing etc. were accompanied by great love for Christ.
Burning with the love for Christ and His Kingdom, he wanted to set this fire of love in the hearts of many by starting a congregation called Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Claretian Missionaries). Started in a small way by six spirit filled members. Small beginning but today has made a great impact in the world; working in 67 countries all over the world. The Spirit with which St. Claret Started the congregation continues to bring great impact in the lives of People of God through various initiatives that touch their lives. We have been able to touch many areas of people’s life and they have grown.
As the Lord said in Jn. 10:10 “I came so that they might have life and have it in full” all our efforts have gone in every walk of life to give life abundantly. All the special ministries are called social ministries which focus on the lives of most needy and neglected group of our society. Mukti, a project aimed at the most neglected tribal group of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Education is the only source of support for them to bring them to the main stream. Apart from Mukti, all the states where we find Claretian presence, education of tribals has been one of the main focus. Education with boarding facilities in places like Peddabayalu, Barwadih etc. strives to uplift the Tribal population of our missions. Claretian presence in all these area has brought about a lot of changes in the education, job settlement, and livelihood of our people.
Health is another important area of our missionary activity. We have been trying to improve the health of the individual, community and the society. We have been able to touch several area in detection, treatment and rehabilitation. We are the pioneers in the field of Leprosy eradication programme in Bangalore. Sumanahalli stands with several national and state awards in the field of leprosy rehabilitation programme. We have done our timely intervention in the community care programme of HIV/AIDS affected persons. Part of which we have two Centres one in Sumanahalli – Support and another in Belgaum. Community care of the infected persons is our field of excellence.
AS Part of community health Programme and improving social life of the people we have entered into the treatment of Alcoholics and drug addicts in Belgaum. The centre is called Hope – De addiction Centre. Through this we have treated several addicts and placed them back in the society with dignity and family union. Soon the Centre will have another branch in Goa.
Another marginalized group in the society is the visually challenged people. We have been working with them for many years. Organizing our work for them, we have started a treatment, education and rehabilitation Centre called “Snehajyothi” at Athani in Belagavi district of Karnataka. More focus is given on this ministry in the form of new project called “The Project Vision” aiming at awareness, treatment and eye donation.
Primary Health Centres are another important area of our work in the field of community health. Ghandhiji Health and Development Centre in Barwadih is one of the best examples of our initiatives in community development and healthcare programme. As part of training future health workers we have community college in Bhusar which trains healthcare assistants for the rural areas. The Centre also trains the youth for job and self-employment.
We have contributed a lot for the rural development in all over India. Among the many areas agriculture is given due importance. As part of agricultural development and research we have Krishi Vikas Kendra in Bhusar. This is the place of new learning and research in the field of agriculture.
Empowering youth is another important area of our work and charism. We have been walking very closely with the youth in all our missions. Skills development being one of the important areas of this ministry; we have vocational training in Honnali. Here, we focus on youth who could not complete their formal education. We train them in four-wheeler driving and computers. Several youth benefit to earn their livelihood and lead a dignified life in the society. Fine arts training is another important area of youth empowerment. We have trained priests who mould the talents and character of the youth through various training in fine arts. This effort has given birth to a fine arts Centre, Kala Sangam in Hubballi, which has been training talented youth in fine arts.
Claretians in India have been great motivators and evangelists in the spirit of St. Antony Mary Claret who was a Mystic and Man of action of 19 century Spain. We have been able to touch many area of our people in the rural and urban India. New initiatives have worked great results in our missions.
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