Latest Progress in India, August 2007
St. Thomas Orphanage - India
Update: August 2007
Alleluia!!! St. Thomas the Apostle Orphanage and Mary Rose Buds School in India are up and running!
Situated on 3.5 acres in the hamlet of Ponnapalli, about thirty miles from the city of Guntur (Guntur is the district and diocesan headquarters), the building and compound still require much work to be completed. So far, the rectory, orphanage and school are built and the parish church, convent and staff quarters are in the drawing stages. An orphanage building for the girls is also needed and hopes are to have it completed by 2010.
The entire property is surrounded by a high white wall with two gates. One leads to the parish and the other to the school and a statue of Our Lady stands in a central place between them.
Bishop Gali Bali of the diocese of Guntur (seen in white at the back row of the photo to the left) is overseer of our project. During his recent visit to Gospa Missions, he expressed hope that, since the non-Christian religions in the area also honor Mary, they will be attracted to pray at the little shrine and perhaps become interested in the Catholic faith as well. To make the spot even more appealing and honoring to Our Blessed Mother, flowering plants and trees will eventually be added.
This love and devotion to Mary also played a part in the choice of names for the school. Mary Rose Buds refers to Our Lady’s title as the Rosa Mystica. It also is a reminder that the children are her little rose buds, entrusted to her motherly care, that she might nurture them into maturity in the Faith.
St. Thomas Orphanage
Currently there are fifteen boys in the orphanage. An overseer (or warden) is in charge, with help from the pastor and the sisters. The boys are all nine or ten years old and have completed their third year and are beginning their fourth. They will remain at St. Thomas until they have graduated from the tenth standard.
The orphanage building is spacious—capable of housing seventy to eighty children—with two halls, the warden’s room, toilets and bathing facilities on one side and a kitchen on the other side. A porch goes across the front.
The parish priest, Fr. Balashowry Yeruva, is also living there temporarily, having surrendered his rectory to the sisters until a convent can be built.
The boys are well taken care of. Their uniforms, books, fees, boarding, lodging, personal and medical care are all supplied by your generosity.
Mary Rose Buds School
To assist to that end, the school and orphanage employ two sisters, one as principal and one as teacher, four lay teachers, and four non-teaching staff. Two more sisters from the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo will start next year.
In this particular state in India, Andhra Pradesh, the academic year runs from mid-June to the third week of April. Seventy children were registered by June 19 and about a hundred altogether were expected to be attending school by mid-July—an excellent beginning for a brand-new school. As Bishop Gali wrote, “Many parents hesitate to send the children to a new school since it is not sufficiently known to the wider public.” However, he projects enrollment will increase to about two hundred next year and continue climbing. The school can accommodate up to 600.
Although the official name of the school is Mary Rose Buds High School, the levels of instruction range from kindergarten to tenth grade (or standard). The school building has eighteen rooms, twelve as class rooms and six as offices, library, science lab and computer lab. Finishing work is still going on and quite a bit of equipment, furniture and other items are still needed.
Only one minibus is owned by the school at this point, but another one is needed, as well as a jeep.
The Future Depends on You
It is hoped that in the next year there will be the necessary funds to construct the sisters’ convent, the parish church and quarters for the staff.
Although there are five million people in the diocese, only two hundred thousand are Catholics. Our brothers and sisters in Christ need our help to enable them to teach the Faith to their children, as well as to provide a place of worship. Your generosity has given them enormous hope, as they see the orphanage and school present and running. With your continued assistance, more dreams can be realized.
Many thanks for all you, our supporters, have done so far. May God bless and reward you a thousand-fold!
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