The presence of the Doctrinarians in India was born at the end of the 90’s of the last century by inspiration of the Provincial Superior, Father Luciano Mascarin, who, attentive to the Council’s call for all Congregations to take personal responsibility for the Mission of the Church, made contacts with some Dioceses in India and Burundi.
Contacts with other Congregations brought Father Luciano to the Diocese of Ranchi, where, with the support of Salesian Father Guido Colussi (a missionary for decades in that part of India) and the welcome of Archbishop Monsignor Telesphore P. Toppo, he laid the groundwork for the opening of a doctrinal community.
On July 9, 1997, the Italian Provincial Chapter, under the guidance of Father Luciano, approved a “Motion” on the missio ad gentes that reads: «The Chapter is of the opinion that the missionary initiative, desired and supported by the last General Chapter and personally followed by the Superior General, must continue and, anticipating that a community cannot be established before the year 2000, it presents to the Government of the Province the following general indications for the three-year period: in collaboration with the Curia of Ranchi (India)… the hypothesis of the purchase of a piece of land and the eventual start-up of the structures for a work in Ranchi should continue to be explored, possibly involving “lay Doctrinaires” from the beginning; the spiritual, cultural and apostolic preparation of the candidates in charge, especially Indians, should be intensified, also through the participation in the annual meetings of specific preparation, called by the C. U.M. (Centro Unitario di Sanità). U.M. (Unitary Center for Missionary Formation) of Verona, and the study of the English language; for the formation of future new vocations, without excluding a priori an eventual presence in Italy, we proceed, as already begun, in their formation in India with the collaboration of the Jesuit Fathers or other Congregations».
So it was that in November 1999, with the presence of the newly ordained Father Paolo and the first Indian doctrinaires, Binay Kumar Guria and Gregory Jojo, the first community was founded in Ranchi.
The Fathers, who were soon joined by Father Arun Kumar Ekka, in addition to taking care of the formation of seminarians and participating in the diocesan Catechetical Office, put themselves at the service of the population by carrying out, in the space of a few years, first in a predominantly poor neighborhood of the city and then also in a rural area 25 km from the center of Ranchi, many initiatives to respond to the needs of the most indigent and outcast local population. The collaboration of many lay people and, above all, of two non-profit organizations, the Yatra Association and the Jarom Association, is fundamental in this regard.
Active projects in Ranchi and Bayangdih (Jareya)
In Ranchi, the Little School Stefano & Gaetano is the first to be established, a “small” school for the recovery of children who have left education in the early years or who would not have the opportunity to access it in a serious way due to the economic conditions of the family. After an initial literacy, the students are enrolled in the most qualified schools in the city and assisted in their studies), in their school expenses and with a daily hot meal.
The César Silai Centre is a tailoring and embroidery school, to initiate poor unemployed women into the profession: the products are sold in India and Italy thanks to the collaboration of the Yatra Association and the Johar cooperative.
The Computer Centre provides poor young people with basic computer skills in preparation for employment.
Morgante’s Library is a library and study room for young people: it provides essential services to give continuity to study and prepare for university exams and competitions.
The Yatra Dispensary is a small outpatient clinic with the presence of a nurse and, bi-weekly, a doctor, to which the most needy have free access. Medication and treatment are free.
Job Training Courses is a training school to prepare young people to participate in major job competitions.
In Bayangdih (Jareya) the Nawa Maskal School is a school with nursery, primary and high school for children from about fifty villages who would not have access to education. The Nawa Maskal School has chosen to take up the challenge of trilingualism (Mundari, Hindi, English), the first attempt in Jharkhand, so as to facilitate integration between the different Indian cultures without necessarily setting aside the millennial baggage of the culture of the Munda people, to whom most of the students belong. The school also seeks to offer examples of small-scale entrepreneurship to students and their families, in the spirit of environmental and economic sustainability. The Jarom Association collaborates closely with the development of the school by organizing, among other things, interaction camps for young people.
The Yatra Dispensary is a small outpatient clinic with the presence of a nurse and, bi-weekly, a doctor, to which the most needy have free access. Medication and treatment are free. In addition, a small health team takes turns to visit the surrounding villages on a daily basis, bringing assistance and medicine to the area, thus offering the population the possibility to access the services of the dispensary.
Photos of the Indian experience
In chronological order. Click on the photos to open the gallery with captions.