- BACKGROUND INFORMATION OF THE PROVINCE:
The Discalced Carmelite Missionaries of Manjummel Province from the state of Kerala came to Andhra Pradesh to work among the Telugu speaking people in the year 1971. About three fourth of Khammam Civil District was entrusted to the Discalced Carmelite by then Bishop of Warangal, Rt. Rev. Alphonse Beretta, when the church of Khammam District was under Warangal Diocese. We began our mission work in this three fourth area of Khammam District with 3 parishes and 6000 faithful. One of these parishes is St. Francis Xavier mission parish, where we established our first mission house and got canonically erected as St. Francis Xavier Monastery. The evangelization work of our pioneer missionaries was responded with encouraging results. By the year 1981 our mission in Khammam District alone had grown into total of 12 parishes with 36,000 new converts and about 16,000 catechumens. Out of these 12 parishes 5 parishes are handed over to the Diocesan clergy soon after the erection of Khammam Diocese in 1988. In short, from the humble beginning of 3 parishes the Lord blessed us, the Carmelite missionaries to see, in the area entrusted them in 1971, a remarkable growth into 26 parishes with 80,000 Catholics in the span of 30 years.
Though our pioneer missionaries’ main focus was on the evangelization works in Khammam district, later during the period from 1987 till date, we have been rendering our pastoral, socio-educational, medical services in 10 out 12 Catholic Dioceses of Telugu speaking region. Further we had foundations in the dioceses of Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Nalgonda, Eluru, Guntur, Srikakulam, Hyderabad, Warangal and Kurnool. At present we are 53 Carmelite missionaries serving in 16 Parishes, (16 Carmelite Communities) in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana States, India.
- BACKGROUND OF THE PEOPLE
Karunambika lean life centre is a rehabilitation centre for the lepers at Hemachandrapuram, Kothagudem, Bhadradri Kothagudem District, Telangana, India. It was established in 1973 by the Carmelite fathers who took keen interest and care in gathering the lepers who are on the streets begging and gave them a shelter. This centre was totally under the care and the maintenance of the Carmelite Social Service society called OCD Service Society, a non profitable organization recognized by the government.
Karunambika lean life centre at Hemachandrapuram began with a small group of 5 families, who began their life under the thatched huts. Now it grew up to 52 families with well-built houses. The Carmelite fathers have acquired 35 acres of land and invited the sisters of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul (DC) in 1989. These sisters dedicate themselves to the entire medical and the other needs of these lepers. It is their presence and dedicated service that keeps the centre alive and running.
We, with the bid to prevent them from begging on the streets, (for they can’t go to any work, people don’t call them for works as they have the social stigma as the Leper families) we give each family some pension (Rs. 1500 per head i.e., 180) monthly. We had been maintaining them in this way since many years. Now these families are grown. They have lot of children. Due to the care and attention given to them, most of the children are healthy. Hence we send most of them to the other boarding homes in order to educate them. We pay the school fees, boarding expenses and all the other necessities. At present we are finding lot of difficulty to maintain these 72 families and their children. Not only that, but also, as we are unable to increase the pension according to the increasing prices of the necessary elementary goods, they are going back to the begging.
- Pastoral Activities:
The Mission Province has under its care 16 Parishes, spread into 10 out of 13 Catholic Dioceses of the Telugu Speaking region in South India. These 16 parishes are situated in the tribal and dalit belts, where the people are poor, illiterate, socially depressed and deprived etc. There are a total of 60,000 Catholics in them. With the help of 267 catechists, we take care of them.
- Free Schools & Free Boarding Homes for the Children:
The missionaries, from the beginning of the Mission have given importance to the education of the rural children and the youth. Therefore, as the tribal and dalit areas do not have the schools, we established free schools and boardings homes for these poor and neglected children of the society. At present we have 7 schools (5000 students) and 9 Boarding Homes (4 Girls Boardings – 211 Students & 5 Boys Boarding s – 121 Students). Girls boarding homes are taken with help of the Religious Sisters of various congregations.
- ITI & School of Printing:
The problem with the youth from the tribal and dalit colonies is that they don’t pursue their studies. They drop out from the schools and colleges and while way their time and taken away by the bad habits. Therefore keeping this in mind, the missionaries started a Technical Institute called Mount Carmel Boys Town (ITI) Carmel Printing Press and School. The school and college dropout youth are enrolled into these institutes and are given training in Carpentry, Electrical, Electronics, Welding, Fitter, Plumbing, and Printing etc. Most of the passed out students are well placed in small and large scale industries in various parts of India.
Fr. Jayaraju Bollikonda OCD, Provincial Superior
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