Why not Charity Begin at Home? (Part IV) By Fr. Anand Muttungal
23 Mar 2010
The concept of mission comes from the Great Commission of Lord Jesus to his disciples to make disciples from all nations. ( St. Matthew 28:19-20). The material supports initiated by the apostles and the missionaries were originally aimed at helping the lesser privileged people and to demonstrate the great love of God through their spiritual and material growth. Thus, Church continued to collect funds from different places and send to growing missions in the world. The Indian Church too imbibed and executed it in the same sprit until 1970s when it adopted the resolution to expand its mission concentrating on education besides health and other social welfare activities.
However, as the timed passed, the original concept of service oriented education had turned to money oriented ignoring the Church’s concern for the lesser privileged. Now, with emphasis on the English medium school culture, the Church schools seems to have given a royal snub even to the chance of the poor and downtrodden getting the option for education in reputed Church schools. The dedicated and trained manpower of the Church including priests, nuns and brothers involved in the mission has no doubt succeeded in creating an image of good educators. Nevertheless, this in most cases may not translate into the purpose for which they have been ordained for or vowed to dedicate their lives to build and strengthen the Catholic Church.
As a result, they have not only failed to get themselves connected to the people for whom the Church stands for due to their institutionalized life. This has also led to a grant burial of the Church’s motto of social upliftment of the poor and the needy through ministry of education. Now tokenism takes the central stage of the Church’s education system that those involved in it make sure that they organise a few programmes every year to make people (poor) believe that they are concerned about them. With the result, the gap between the Church’s concern (poor people) and its institutions and those managing them are widening.
A sort of disappointment mixed with anger is growing among the lesser privileged Christians living in the mission areas. One side the Church is spending crores of rupees to build convents, institutions and Churches and on the other side is the stark reality of unemployed lesser privileged Christians and their struggle for existence. The Church institutions try to project themselves beyond caste and creed by preferring non-Christians against Christians for the jobs into Christian institutions on the plea, “Christians are educationally qualified but not competitive”.
The divide between the officials of the Church and its poor lots are also steadily on the rise. I wish to narrate a case among many in which a religious order has made a huge school spending more than two crores of rupees and a convent a bit away from it spending much more than the school. Nearly two kilometres away from there, around fourteen Catholic families live on penury near a rail track almost like in shanties. A woman from this place is still running from pillar to post requesting to accommodate her in the job of a peon in the school but there is no one to listen to her. The only reason for denial of job to her, as I understand is nothing but the crime of being a Catholic. Whenever there are attacks from the fundamental groups or problems arise against these institutions and the dedicated persons serving in them no one (laity) seems not bothered leaving them to their fate, barring a couple of exceptions.
We might think that if there are more institutions then more employment can be generated. It is true but the members of the community do not find place in them. In the name of maintaining quality, they do not get place in our institutions. A leading school in a city with nearly one lakh Christian population have two Christian teachers among over hundred teaching staffers. Christians working in the Christian institutions for many years do not become principle, director, managers or assistants and in some cases they do not get even due promotions. Against this background I wish to ask everyone involved in the Church’s mission of empowering the poor and needy , can we have a policy to accommodate the lesser privileged Christians in our schools?. If we intend to strengthen the local church and empower them then we must have a policy in appointments, promotion, and educating their children. We must remember that the future of the local Church is in their hands. Probably, it is time to undo the past sins by accommodating the aspirations of these poor who constitute the vast chunk of Christianity in the country, “CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME”