SUMMERVILLE — St. Anthony’s Church in Dharmasagar, India, has a new home for the priests working to help the forgotten children and suffering poor, thanks to the generosity of South Carolina Catholics.
Father Thomasaiah Reddimasu spent five years in the diocese, but he never forgot the plight of those in his impoverished homeland in Dharmasagar in the Diocese of Warangal in the state of Andhra Pradesh. While he was here, he worked hard to raise money to help them.
Father Reddimasu returned to India in 2006, but remained in touch with his friends in the Diocese of Charleston. He returned in 2008 for six weeks to serve as interim pastor at St. Theresa the Little Flower in Summerville while Msgr. Edward D. Lofton was doing mission work in Fiji, said Helena Moniz.
Moniz, the parish secretary at St. Theresa, said she and Father Reddimasu spoke before groups every night about the deplorable conditions of his mission and the needs of the village.
Their prayers were answered by the generous outpouring from those who reached out to help, for “whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.” (Mt 21:22).
“Through God we touched hearts,” Moniz said.
When Father Reddimasu went home this time, he had the funds needed to build a new rectory to replace the old, unsound one. Moniz said the old one will be used in some capacity, as nothing in India goes to waste.
All the work was done by hand by the villagers, which not only gave them jobs, but allowed the mission to feed more people and help them grow in faith, according to Moniz.
Construction began in May 2008 and was completed by late December. Father Reddimasu sent photos of the completed project and a letter of gratitude.
“I take this opportunity to thank you from the depth of my heart for your loving and generous financial support for the construction of this beautiful house. I also send to you many thanks from our people,” Father Reddimasu wrote.
He is currently serving over 6,000 Catholics in ten communities in as many villages around Dharmasagar, he continued. A former boarding home is now serving 130 poor students, many of them orphans, and Father Reddimasu expressed their gratitude as well.
Moniz, who has spent time at the mission in India, said she fell in love with the generous spirit of the people. Those who have nothing will give to others who are, as impossible as it seems, even less fortunate.
She related the story of an elderly man who came begging for food and water at the mission. The girls Moniz was caring for, girls who themselves go to bed hungry every night, scraped together their meager supply of rice and a cup of precious water and fed the man.
It is people like this that the Cath olics of South Carolina are helping, and not just in India.
Moniz said the Society for the Propagation of the Faith under the Pontifical Mission Society works with Hand of Help to serve the less fortunate around the world and in the United States.
The Pontifical Mission Society begins their collection in October on World Mission Sunday.
Msgr. Lofton, diocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, said they are currently completing construction of a church that has sat, partially built, for over 12 years in Nadavaci, Fiji.
“In doing this work we are recognizing that we are one in faith, and one in Christ,” Moniz said.
For more information or to donate, send checks made out to the
Pontifical Mission Society to 11001 Dorchester Road, Summer ville, SC 29485.