Tag: Trivandrum

India Mission: ‘The Lord Provides!’

Ralph Martin wrote the following report from India, where he has been for about three weeks, speaking extensively and serving with his wife Anne, Deacon Dan and Dolly Foley, Fr. Chas Canoy, John and Michelle Kazanjian, and Erin Campbell. This is the second in a three-part series about the mission. (Part one can be found here.) Anne Martin already has provided two reports about the mission, which can be found here and here.

Cardinal Cleemis, Fr. Matthew (a shms STL grad) and FR. Chas.s CROPPED
Fr. Matthew George (a Sacred Heart Major Seminary STL graduate), Ralph Martin, Cardinal Cleemis, and Fr. Chas Canoy in Pune, India.

Dear Partners in the Mission,

As you read this, we are probably recovering from last night’s late arrival into the US after more than twenty-four hours of travel—always a happy occasion, despite how good the mission was. Below, I will continue the second part of my report on our mission to India.

On the afternoon of Jan. 11, we flew to Trivandrum, in the far south of India, in the state of Kerala, which is the “heartland” of the Catholic Church in India. Christians make up about twenty percent of the population of Kerala and run many highly regarded schools, hospitals, and universities. There is a different atmosphere here and many open signs of Catholic presence and faith.

Fr. Matthew George picked us up at the airport; he served in the US for a number of years and was one of the first graduates from the STL program at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, which focuses on evangelization. At this point, Fr. Chas Canoy, a pastor of a parish in Jackson, Michigan, also arrived to help us with the upcoming week-long retreat for priests in Pune.

We learned that Cardinal Cleemis, whom Anne and I met in Rome when I was studying there and again during the Synod on Evangelization, where it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI had appointed him a cardinal, invited our whole team to stay with him at his episcopal residence. Cardinal Cleemis is head of the Syro-Malankara Church, and also has just been re-elected to his second term as president of the entire Indian Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The cardinal had decided to schedule an annual theological colloquium during the time I was in India, so that I could present a paper at it. Almost all of the seminarians in his diocese, about one hundred, and some of the leading theologians of India, were there. I was able to present a paper on the urgent question about whether it is still important to evangelize, given the fact that it is sometimes possible for someone to be saved even if they haven’t heard the Gospel. You know my answer to that question: Absolutely! People’s salvations are at stake!

After two nights in Trivandum, we got up very early and left at 5:15 a.m. for the train station, where we found a big crowd of Indians getting morning trains to various destinations. We boarded a train for Kochi (Cochin)—a trip that took about four hours. At this point, it became apparent that I was having some stomach issues. However, upon arrival in Cochin, I was told that a big crowd of 500 priests, nuns, and lay leaders were waiting for me, and they asked if I could come immediately to the auditorium. I begged for a few minutes to go to my room first and “freshen up.” I wasn’t sure I could continue, and I asked Fr. Chas and Deacon Dan if they could be ready to do the first talk, in case I wasn’t able to.

When I mentioned this to the organizers who were hosting us, the way in which they expressed their disappointment told me I had to go on and do both talks, trusting the Lord that it would be possible. It was. I am very grateful to God and for your prayers for supporting me through this whole mission, but especially for getting me through that particular day. Our host at the pastoral center in Ernakulum (the “new city” area of Cochin) was Fr. Varghese Vallikatt, another graduate of our STL program at the seminary and now the deputy director of the Kerala Bishops’ Conference—he serves as the primary executive for coordinating the work of all three rites in Kerala, he himself a Syro-Malankara, as well as for the Syro-Malabar, and Latin Rite bishops.

Archbishop Korilloos and three of our STL grads, including Fr. Chas. 2 CROPPED
Pictured, from l-r, are Anne Martin; Archbishop Koriloos; Ralph Martin; Cardinal Cleemis; two of Sacred Heart Major Seminary’s STL grads, Fr. Chas Canoy and Fr. Matthew George; as well as Dolly and Deacon Dan Foley.

Archbishop Koriloos, the archbishop of Tiruvalla, hosted the gathering and greeted me on the stage with a special honorary garland made up of cardamon seeds and orange cloth. Together, the archbishop and our team lit the devotional oil lamps, and I gave two talks, one on evangelization and one on the new Pentecost. Later that afternoon, we met with about forty key lay leaders, who told us absolutely amazing stories of how they are evangelizing. One couple, who are leaders in one of the movements, told how they have 250 laypeople working full time as missionaries throughout India, depending on the Lord for their support. If they are short on funds, they fast for three days, and the Lord provides!

The leader of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Kerala told us they have 3,000 prayer groups! He himself travels as an evangelist all over the world. Another woman told us of her ministry to professionals in the work force. Someone else told us of their amazing ministry to children; they have trained over 300 counselor/evangelists that work in camps for children all over India and in other countries as well. Someone else told of their successful efforts to get the Bible translated into sixteen Indian languages that had never had the Scripture before. We were all “blown away” by the zeal, courage, and dedication of these brothers and sisters.

And then, unexpectedly, that same night I was invited to address all thirteen Latin Rite bishops, who were meeting at that time on a topic related to marriage and family life. Bishop Sebastian, who was a priest at the wedding of my niece, Mary Hope Morris Rennie—Fr. Jonathan Morris’ sister—heard that I was in India, so he asked the other bishops if he could invite me to address them. And so I did! God gave me amazing strength that day that began with wondering if I could go on or not.

Stay tuned for the final installment in Ralph’s report from India!

Blessings Continue for India Mission

 

We had an amazing visit to the “tribal areas” today to speak to all the priests and nuns working with the “tribals.” Wonderful work in education and healthcare and evangelization.
We had an amazing visit to the “tribal areas” to speak with all of the priests and nuns who work there. They do wonderful work in education, healthcare, and evangelization.

As Ralph Martin has been busy giving twenty-three talks during their first nine days in India, his wife, Anne Martin, is stepping in to keep supporters up-to-date on how their mission in India is progressing. Please continue to keep Ralph, the entire mission team, and those hearing their message, in your prayers!

By Anne Martin

As I write this, I’m on a train with Ralph; Deacon Dan and Dolly Foley; Fr. Chas; and our friend and host, Fr. Matthew (a former student of Ralph’s who now teaches at the Syro-Malankara Seminary in Trivandrum). Our last days in Vasai were even more blessed than the first ones! I knew Ralph was going to speak at an outdoor rally, but I was shocked when we arrived at the venue! I had imagined a grassy field, standing, and casual. Instead, we were greeted by over five-thousand people, red outdoor-type carpeting, a stage, lights, and music. Ralph gave two half-hour talks, followed by Adoration.

The next day, we drove two hours to visit a tribal area with Archbishop Machado. These tribes are a different race from the Indians and live in rural areas/reservations. We were greeted by a throng of beautiful young students playing instruments, singing, and throwing flower petals on us. I was moved to tears! Ralph gave the priests and sisters three talks. An elderly Italian nun, who has been on mission for over fifty years, is a part of the team there. They have a hospital, a primary-to-college school, social workers, and catechists.

With Archbishop Felix Machado
Deacon Dan and Dolly Foley, Archbishop Felix Machado, and Anne and Ralph Martin

In the short week we were with the archbishop and his little community, we felt like family. It was sad to say goodbye, but it was time to go to the southern part of India. We traveled via domestic airline; I love the name—”IndiGo.” There’s another one called “Spice.”

We arrived in Trivandrum in time to settle in at Cardinal Cleemis’s house, and had night prayers and dinner with his household. They are Malankara rite, which traces its roots to Antioch. Every Psalm and prayer was sung and the thurible, which holds the incense, was refilled a dozen times. I have no idea what they prayed, but I DO know it was holy, awesome, and reverenced the Trinity.

Each day, I’m humbled by the gracious hospitality extended to us. Dinner was no exception. The entire menu was prepared with our western palates in mind. I was told they normally eat extremely hot, spicy food. We had a feast of pasta, roast chicken, vegetables, fruit, and even ice cream.

Anne and Fr. Chas Canoy praying in the chapel of the seminary CROPPED
Anne Martin and Fr. Chas Canoy praying in the seminary chapel.

The next morning, Fr. Matthew took us to the seminary, where Ralph presented a paper at a theological colloquium. He was one of several presenters. After lunch, we visited a Hindu temple in the heart of the city. They discovered a treasure trove of gold, piles of diamonds, rubies, and more underneath it. Of course, we couldn’t go down to see it. We then drove to a beach. Trivandrum is on the Indian Ocean. The sand is gold in color and actually has gold in it.

Well, the train is slowing down, and it’s time to arrive in Cochin. Our adventure continues!

school children
The school children, who welcomed the mission team with a great strewing of flower petals, song, and dance.

Ralph Martin Leaves for India Today

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Banners like this one, in the Marathai language, are displayed in all forty parishes in one Indian diocese.
banner-ralph-martin-eng
This is the English translation of the banner that is on display in forty Indian parishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Partners in the Gospel,

Your support is making possible a really significant mission to India, beginning today. We have our visas, we have our inoculations against typhoid and Hepatitis A, and we are taking our malaria pills. As you read this, a small team and I are on our way to the airport, getting ready to fly to India, where Renewal Ministries has been invited by four Indian dioceses to provide training and encouragement for their priests, nuns, and lay leaders, as well as to conduct large rallies. I will even deliver a theological paper at an academic colloquium.

One of the archbishops who invited us has confided to us that he is very concerned about the condition of his priests and is grateful for our service. The Church in India has been, in many places, badly affected by pressure from the dominant Hinduism into a sometimes watered-down approach to proclaiming the true identity of Jesus and His call to all people everywhere to believe, repent, and be baptized.

From January 6 (yes, it will take us two days to get there!) to January 12, we will be in the diocese of Vasai, just North of Mumbai (the former Bombay). From January 12-15, we will be in the far South of India, in the State of Kerala, in the dioceses of Trivandrum and Tiruvalla. We have been invited to Trivandrum by Cardinal Cleemis, who is the current president of the Indian Bishops’ Conference. We have been invited to Tiruvalla by Archbishop Koriloos, who has visited us here in Michigan and also in Rome, and who arranged for The Fulfillment of All Desire to be translated into Malayalam, the dominant local language. Then we move by plane, train, and automobile, back to the central region of India, to the Diocese of Poona, in the city of Pune, where we will be until January 23.

My wife Anne is going with me, as is Renewal Ministries’ Board Chairman Deacon Dan Foley and his wife Dolly, whose daughter married a young man from Pune. This whole mission began with their wedding in Pune, which sparked the invitation to the Diocese of Pune. Then, former Indian students from the seminary and friends from previous visits to India heard we were going to be there, and a mission to one diocese evolved into a mission to four dioceses!

John and Michelle Kazanjian also will join us in Pune, for the week-long priests’ retreat and sisters’ retreat; they will lead prayer for deliverance from various bondages using the “five keys” of the Unbound method developed by our good friend Neal Lozano. Anne and Dolly (who are coming at our personal expense) will help them pray for people. Fr. Chas Canoy will join us in the south and in Pune, to help minister to the priests. He is the pastor of a parish in Jackson, Michigan, and a Sacred Heart Major Seminary graduate.

As time permits—every day is scheduled!—I will be sending “reports from the field” to let you know how things are going, hopefully along with some photos.

Thank you for your support, and please include us in your prayers during this time!

Gratefully,

rcm-sig

Ralph Martin

President

Renewal Ministries