Our Lenten Program of Sacrifice will provide clean sanitation to families at Fr. Gene's parish, Sacred Heart Church in Tamil Nadu, India.
Once again this year, Msgr. Gervasio and the Social Justice Committee are happy to announce that our Lenten Work of Mercy will be to help our dear friend, Fr. Eugene Savarimuthu, care for the people of his parish. Fr. Gene returned to India after serving the people of OLS-SA for 6 years, and became the pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Sikkalnayaganpet parish, a part of the diocese of Kumbankonam in Tamilnadu, India.
Last year, he undertook a major project to build a community center where the people could gather for celebrations, classes, after-school programs, health clinics, and more. We raised $25,000 and now the community center is 90% complete. Fr. Gene tells us that they will formally open and dedicate the community center on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19. A plaque will commemorate the sacrifices made by the people of OLS-SA to build the center. Already, the center is being used to hold sewing classes for local women, to house the after-school program, and to host parish gatherings. All the people of Fr. Gene's parish know the name "Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony" and remember us and our intentions in their prayers. You can find a video of Fr. Gene's vision
Fr. Gene's parish is in a very rural region of India where there are sanitation problems beyond Western imagination. With its 1.25 billion inhabitants, nearly 800 million people in the country live without basic sanitation. Approximately 65% of the people are forced to defecate in the open. Open defecation spreads diseases like cholera and E. coli and contaminates unprotected water sources. It also causes a serious safety problem for the girls and women in the villages. The lack of toilets in their homes exposes women to the risk of being harassed or raped when they rise at night or before dawn in search of a little privacy to attend to their toiletry needs in the fields.
Fr. Gene want to have every home in his parish equipped with a sanitary toilet. His goal is to provide 50 toilets this year. Men and women from each family in the village will contribute their own time, energy, and labor to build their own toilet for their house. He asks our help in providing some of the costs for materials.
Fr. Gene and members of his parish have framed a construction plan that could be achieved through collaboration of various resources. They plan to buy the construction materials locally. Funding for the project would come from multiple sources: 25% from local government, 25% from the parish, 25% from the individual family, and 25% from our Lenten sacrifices. By providing these toilets, we will be empowering the people of Fr. Gene's parish to better their own lives, to improve their health, and especially to provide dignity and safety to the girls and women of the villages.
Give up anything you want for Lent
—candy, "fast food," ice cream, cookies. Each week, calculate how much money you saved and bring it to church to put in one of the
Lenten Works of Mercy
cans at the exits.
Pray for Fr. Gene, pray for the people of his parish, and pray that our own hearts will be transformed through our sacrifices.