How it all started:
It was in 1988 that responding to the requests of Rev. Bishop Joseph Pathalil of Udaipur Diocese, SVD came to work in Udaipur. It was an historical even when Frs. Mathew Chemparappally SVD and George Bhuria SVD arrived at Banswada on the July 4, 1988. The then Provincial Superior Fr. Thomas Thalachira SVD and a few other SVDs accompanied them as they proceeded to Udaipur, the City of Lakes and the capital of erstwhile Mewar kingdom to meet the bishop.
The bishop wanted the SVDs to take up frontier mission work as well as specialized ministries in the diocese. The first two SVDs took up pastoral and missionary work and the next batch of two Fr. George Kochumury SVD and Fr. John Paul Herman SVD who joined him later were entrusted with the work of inter religious Dialogue in Udaipur city. Initially, Fr. George Kuchumurry SVD stayed at St. Paul’s School for some time and then purchased a house in the Machla Magra area. This was named Maitri Sadan and the work of Inter religious Dialogue was organized from here for some time. When the Holy Spirit Sisters came to Udaipur, this house was given to them and the adjoining plot of land 11 Machala Magra was purchased by the SVD. As Fr. John Paul SVD was transferred, Fr. Prasad Kuzhively SVD arrived in Udaipur. Once again the SVDs took up residence at St. Paul’s School for a year as the new house was being built.
The present house of Maitri Sadan was blessed and inaugurated at 5.30 pm on May 16, 1994. About 250 people including the members of the Sarva Dharma Maitri Sangh, prominent citizens, religious and priests of the diocese were present for the occasion. Provincial Fr. Charles Pinto SVD lit the lamp to inaugurate the centre. The Preethi-bhoj later was prepared and served by the Bohra members of the Maitri Sangh dressed in their traditional attire which added colour and was a pleasant surprise to all the guests- a visible manifestation of what we stand for at Maitri Sadan. Fr. George Kuchumury SVD confines, “Maitri Sadan” was born in February 1991 in an old house in the city. Since then dialogue ministry was in progress and we have a Sarva Dharma Maitri Sangh of 50 members of different prominent religions in the city”. Fr. George Kochumury SVD worked as the director until June 1997 and then Fr. Prasad Khuzhively SVD was appointed director assisted by Fr. Lawrence Fernandes SVD. Presently Maitri Sadan is involved in activities and programmes like Inter-religious Dialogue Ecumenism bible Correspondence, Communication Prison Ministry, Pastoral work and so on.
Inter-Religious Dialogue: in Udaipur, the well known dialogue man and writer Fr. R.H. Lesser started dialogue work. He had started a group called Sarva Dharma Maitri Sangh for occasional meetings of people of various religious. Fr. George Kochumurry SVD took up the work after him and made these gatherings more regular and systematic. This programme of monthly interfaith gatherings is being carried on and is receiving a very good response from the enlightened people of Udaipur. This movement is able to bring together the leaders of various religious groups, NGOs, social workers and people of good will in general and instill in them the message of respect for and collaboration and harmony between all religions. The attendance at these meetings varies from 30 – 40 and above a hundred depending up on the occasion and place.
Seeing that the message of inter-religious harmony was reaching only a limited number of people who are physically present at the meetings, the need was felt to start a small newsletter to share information of this movement. This dream came true when the maiden issue of Maitri Swar say the light of day.
On November 16, 1999, at the monthly inter-faith gathering held at Maitri Sadan, Bp. Joseph Pathalil released the first issue of eight pages and a two colour front page, showing a symbol of harmony between all religions. Mahanth Murli Manohar Sharan Shastriji, a well known Guru and educationist presented the first copy to Shri Muhammad Hussain Haideri, a Bohra leader and social worker of Udaipur. This will be a bimonthly publication for the time being. The editorial team consists of Shri Ramesh Kumar Verma, Ms. Vibha Bhatnager Reshmi, and Sr. Consolata PSA and Fr. Prasad, the Managing editor.
Shanty Sandesh: Bible Correspondence Programme
The percentage of Christians in Rajasthan is around 0.1 which means that there is just one Christian in a population of a thousand. It is obvious that quite a large number of non-Christians in Rajasthan will never get to see a Christian leave alone have the opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ or the Holy Bible. To make up for this situation at the request of the bishop, we undertook the establishment of a Catholic Enquiry Centre, from where a regular bible correspondence programme has been organized for anyone who is interested. The bishop of Udaipur inaugurated this on July 16, 1994 at an inter-faith gathering at Maitri Sadan.
The diocese of Udaipur SVD and SSpS are collaborating in this venture. One Sister from Shradha Sadan works as full timer in this assisted by Catholic lay helpers. At present nearly 14000 people of all religions are coming to know about Jesus Christ and the bible from this correspondence programme. The enquirers are systematically introduced to the life of Christ and the teaching of the bible through six lessons. Every booklet is accompanied also by a personal letter. The enquirer is advised to approach the bible and Jesus not just from an academic interest and curiosity, but with devotion love and faith. Every Saturday all the staff members of Shanti Sandesh spend an hour in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, praying for all the enquirers for their needs and for the needs of the whole world.
Communication Media: Maitri Sadan is the office media centre of Udaipur diocese. Fr. Lawrence Fernandes SVD looks after the communication training programmes. He conducts media education classes both within the diocese as well as outside.
This has been one of the programmes engaged in from the beginning. It was started with one of the prisoners responding to our advertisement thorough a post card. We then visited the jail and spent time talking and listening to him. Thus began a regular programme in the prison. The prison authorities were suspicious in the beginning but later, after several visits, they became friendly and invited us to the jail for staging a cultural programme. This we did, with the generous cooperation from the staff and student of St. Paul, St. Theresa’s and St. Mary’s as well as form the parishioners and the Catholic youth. Without much difficulty, we found generous donors to sponsor such programmes. Prisoners on many occasions, join us with items of their own.
In October 1998, we organized a literacy campaign for almost 100 under trails with the help of nearly 40 students from St. Paul’s School. The learners formed groups of five and two students each were assigned to them. They taught for 45 minutes, thrice a week. The literacy Mission through the Collect orate provided books and other materials. After nearly four months of learning and being with them the conclusion of the programme marked a rather sad departure as the prisoners had developed personal bonds with the children.
On April 23, 2000 (Easter) we visited the jail to hold a cultural programme. When we were getting ready to leave, a desperate young man came to us for help. He had been arrested by the police while trying to save his old father from a fight. Because he had no one to support him with money for a good advocate, he was sentenced to six months imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 700 failing which he would have to stay in prison for another three months. Verifying the details for the case we put our heads together. One of the students volunteered with Rs. 400 which had had received as a gift for his birthday. All of us took out something from our pockets and there was enough money to release this man gratitude and happiness, written on this face was unforgettable
Pastoral Work: We are actively involved in pastoral matters of the parish. Certain areas are entrusted to us where we help to organized monthly prayer meetings. Initially, we had to lead the whole prayer and people would sit without ever opening their mouths. But with patience and persuasion many have now reached a stage where they themselves are able to conduct and lead prayer sessions. It is indeed fulfilling to see the growth in leadership, responsibility and participation among the lay people in these matters of faith. Thus we in Maitri Sadan are indeed happy to contribute our mite for the transformation of the society and make it part of the Kingdom of God.
12/04/2009 On the occasion of Easter Celebration, Maitri Sadan performing Arts team performed Meshpal Bhagawn dance drama for the prisoners of Kesariyaik 65 km from Udaipur.
31/03/2010 Most Rev. Joseph Pathalil, Bishop of Udaipur inaugurates Maitri Studio
09/07/2011: Sarv Dharm Prayer for rain: Maitri Sadan organized Sarvdharm Prayer for good rains. A good number of residences of Hiran Magri, Sector 6, gathered at the courtyard of Hanuman temple and prayed together for good rains. Mr. Sandeep Singhatwadia, the president of Sarvdharm requested children and all the people to raise their hands and pray that God would send showers of blessings on his people. It was a wonderful experience of praying together with different faith groups.
10 /07/2011 Workshop on Inter- Religion Sharing: In collaboration with the Samvad society, Mathura U.P Sarv Dharm Maitri Sangh organized a special gathering of principals and teachers of various schools who shared their faith experiences. It was a unique experience for all the 30 participants to know that, the God experience of each other in the daily events of life which gives them bliss, unity and peace.
02/12/2011: Patriotic competitions to mark the Independence Day celebrations: Sarv Dharm Maitri Sangh organized series of competitions to mark the 64th Independence Day of our country. We organized essay, speech, drawing, singing and dance competitions on patriotic themes to inculcate patriotism, unity and fraternity among the school children of Udaipur. The competition was held in different schools of Udaipur.
16/08/2011 Independence Day celebration in Central Jail Udaipur Sarvdharm Maitri Sangh organized cultural program at Central Jai Udaipur. The Winners of Patriotic competitions performed for the inmates of Central Jail. The inmates too reciprocated and entertained every one present. There were twelve hundred prisoners, school children, parishioners of our lady of Fatima and Sarvdharm members. Refreshments were distributed to the prisoners and special prizes were given to the inmates Ramchandra Pushker, Yashvant Barelly, Tejsawi Singh and Inayaat Khan who perfomed and recited poems.
03/10/2011: Maitri Kala Mandir Inaugurated The inauguration of Maitri Kala Mandir was another steppingstone in the history of Maitri Sadan. It was inaugurated by lighting of the lamb by Rev. Sr. Thomsina, the superior of Mother Teresa Ashram in Udaipur. She said “I am happy that the Kala Mandir is dedicated to Mother Teresa. I wish that all those who come here experience enormous joy and peace.”Mr. Albin D’souza, the director of St Anthony’s Senior Secondary School, addressing the gathering said “Music gives inner satisfaction and connects the inner self with the Almighty.” Mrs. Sayeeda Raj, an active Sarva Dharm member, wished and prayed Bismillah al rahman al rahim (In the name of God, most Gracious, and most Compassionate) all those who are associated with this venture be an inspiration for many. Two junior students, Aryan and Purvai Saighal, expressed their views saying that it is a great opportunity for them to learn music while they can avoid watching television which affects their health.
17/10/2011: Rural Leadership and communication Seminar for School Teachers A seminar for the teachers of Nirmala Sec. School, St. Paul’s School, Bagidora and St. Joseph’s school, Ratanpur , run by the Catholic Diocesan Educational Society of Udaipur (CDESU) was held at Nirmala Sec. School, Bagidora, about two hundred Km away from Udaipur in the district of Banswara . Rev. Fr. Norbert Herman SVD was the resource person. Fr. Herman was an ideal person to moderate the seminar. The seminar began with the opening Prayer by Mr. Rajesh Shah and Rev. Fr. Basil Khadia the Principle of Nirmala Sec. School welcomed everybody.” Fr. Herman began his presentation quoting Mr. Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” He explained the four elements of education that has influence on every person. They are Family, Society, School and Religion. He emphasized the Indian (Vidyaa Dadaati Vinayam-Knowledge generates humility) and Christian perspective (Sevamai Prem-Loving Service) on education. He said “education is a mission” and encouraged the teachers to take their profession as a mission because the aim of teachers is not only teaching but also to mould the future artisans of the country.
13/11/2011: Sarva Dharm Maitri Sangh Celebrates Deepawali, Eid, Guru Nanak Jayanti & Children’s Day: Sarv Dharm Maitri Sangh Organized a joint celebration of Deepawali, Eid, Guru Nanak Jayanti & Children’s Day at 3-G 25- Prabhat Nagar at 5pm.The people from colonies and the Sarv Dharm members gather together for this joyful occasion. The programme started with Sarv Dharm prayer. Two children Sajel and Twinkle spoke about the importance of children’s day. They said that we need to imbibe the spirit of Pandit Nehru for the promotion of peace and harmony in our country. Ms. Shakeela Ansari spoke about Eid that it is the celebration of commitment, love and trust for God. Ms. Manju Sonigara spoke about the importance of Deepwali that it is the festival of light which brings a new season of prosperity to all. Mrs. Kuljeet Kaur and Rajinder Kaur sang a Sikh devotional hymn that speaks about the oneness of humanity.
18/12/2011: Sarva Dharma Maitri Sangh organizes peace rally in the town. It starts from Maitri Sadan and proceeds through the city almost 7 k.m. and culminates in the Cathedral. I.G. Of the city, T.L. Meena inaugurates the Rally and the people of the different faith join with their tableaus depicting peace in their religion, the life crib is the main attraction of the rally. Various religious gurus give their peace messages at various avenues.
26/12/ 2011: Sarvdharm Maitri Sangh Organized Christmas celebration for the inmates of the Central Jail Udaipur. The program began with Carol singing by the Children of St. Mary’ and St. Teresa convent school. They delighted the inmates with the carols singing, the story of Christmas was enacted and the colorful Rajasthani dances. Chief guest Mr. Vinit Bhaya, the management Guru addressed the inmates and said that they must change their lives and live for others.
06/05/ 2012: Sarvadharma Maitri Sangh organized an evening kirttan & satsang (Bhajan & meditation) programme. The programme began with invoking the blessings from the Almighty by lighting of the lamp by Palmist and socualworker Pandit Niranjan Bhatt. Followed by the Sarvadharm prayer led by Fr. Norbert Herman the director of Maitri Sangh .He welcomed chief guest and the dignitaries and the Augustus gathering. The evening was so beautiful and blissful with the singing of kirtan
07/05/2012: Sarvadharma Maitri Sangh organized free three days Yoga training at Maitri Sadan at 6 -7 am this morning. .Dr. Shobhalal Audichya Ayurvedh medical officer inaugurated the session and Mr. Sanjay Dixit Yoga trainer with his expertise taught Pranayam, Aasan and Ashtang yoga.
18/06/2012: Sarvadharm Maitri Sangh along with Pathanjali Yoga Samiti organized free yoga training and medical camp in Maitri Sadan. Chief guest Mr. Rajendra Prasad Goyal, (the Additional Superintendent of Police Anti corruption bureau) inaugurated the centre. Sri Girish Joshi, Arya Samaj leader address the gathering saying the yoga makes our heart, mind and body like the holy water of Ganges. On this occasion the students of Maitri Kala Mandir delighted the august gathering with Varity of colorful dances and musical performances.
01/08/2012: Sarva Dharm Maitri Sangh Udaipur organizes prayer meetings, celebrates various cultural, social, religious feasts and festivals of our country. We inculcate value education and patriotic devotion among the students.
Shanti Sandesh (Bible Enquiry Center): Shanti Sandesh makes great efforts in proclaiming Christ through corresponding with those who want to know about Christ and his teachings. The enquirers send us letters requesting us to send them Bible course materials and then they reply to the Bible questions. After reading the Bible study materials at various intervals within a year they complete the course. We have also social sites where people send us requests for prayer intentions. This year we have about 400 students who are learning the Bible through correspondence. We are in the process of starting a website.
SPECIAL FEATURES OF THE MAITRI SADAN
- Well equipped sound studio
- Video camera Sony HER- MC 2000E/ MC 1500P
- Crane – 24 feet
- Publication: Maitri Swar ( Yearly ) And SIGNIS news letter
Name of the Confreres
Post / Assignment
Fr. P.A Augustine
Fr, John Paul Herman
Communication and youth Ministry
Fr. George Kochumurry
Fr. Prasad Kuzhively
Fr. Lawrence Fernandes
Director, Communication Coordinator of INC
Fr. Prasad Kuzhively
Fr. Cyril Rodrigues
Fr. Devprasad Ganawa
Fr. William Tirkey
Fr. Norbert Herman
Fr. Raju Sastya
Fr. Libinus Kullu