Sunday, April 28, 2013

Confirmations Postponed until June 2

A volunteer enjoys a meal break at
Holy Family Mission.
First, the good news. Activity peaked at Holy Family Mission around a week ago, when a compact diesel-powered cement mixer started churning out cement for the foundation of the new stage.  Volunteers carried stones, sand and cement, filling the forms to create foundation walls. In spite of brutal temperatures around 109-degrees F., people's spirits were high. When the forms came down, sturdy walls remained.

Something to celebrate:
Now, for challenging news. Building activity slowed this past week when funds ran dry. Fr. Varghese met with his workers and everyone agreed the work needed to pause. Father refuses to go into debt for this project, so the cement roof and floor of the stage can not be poured until more funds appear.  At this point, not enough time remains to pour the cement and let it cure for the original May 8th Confirmation date. 

When Fr. Varghese called the Archbishop's office, the secretary said, "Oh, Father. The Archbishop was asking to change the Confirmation date due to the heat." Temperatures have been hovering around 109-degrees F., so that May 8th date needed to change, anyway. That buys the workers a little extra time, but not much.
Working outside all day in 100-plus temperatures
is grueling. A worker takes a needed break.
People have signed vouchers promising donations, but struggle to cover basic living expenses in a state where 69% of the population earns less than $2 a day. Most people can't give a donation until payday, at the end of the month. Meanwhile, laborers are willing, but supplies are scarce. 

"People have learned very well" in their Confirmation classes over the past weeks since Easter, says Fr. Varghese. Their spiritual preparation is coming along nicely. So why the urgency to build a stage?

This group of faithful  took special vows of penance
 during Lent. No sooner was Easter celebrated, than the Mission
entered an intense and special period  of formation for
Confirmations, a time Father has called
 a "Way of the Cross."
"We expect nearly 2,000 people" on Confirmation day, explains the priest. "The church can accommodate a maximum of 1,000."

Since Father's mission covers scattered villages and four mission outposts besides Holy Family, tribal people will travel in from far and wide for the event.

Although Archbishop Prakash Mallavarapu feared temperatures would be too intense for participants on the original May 8th date, volunteers have continued gathering at the mission nearly daily to clean and beautify the buildings and grounds. Altar boys scrubbed Father's little house with whisk brooms, and now the house wears a new coat of paint. Everyone wants to honor their Archbishop and the coming of the Holy Spirit by making their mission shine.

Please consider donating to help these people who are so faithful and willing to labor for their God, but who need a helping hand.  100% of donations that come through the Paypal donation button at right, go directly to Fr. Varghese and his people, for their mission's basic operating costs and for their new stage, which will serve the community for years to come. God bless you for your prayers and generosity!

Altar boys scrubbed Fr. Varghese's two-bedroom house
so it could be painted.

Text by Marianna Bartholomew
Photos by Fr. Varghese

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