Donate to our Christmas Appeal here, and read a Christmas message of hope from Director, Paul Chitnis, below.
Paul Chitnis, Director of Jesuit Missions, shares a message of hope for Christmas.
Where have you found hope this year? For many people, it has been in short supply.
But, just like the star which shone brightly in the dark sky over Bethlehem on that first Christmas, there are reasons to be hopeful and we’d like to share two with you.
Shanti is a young woman supported by one of our Jesuit partners in India, the Loyola Integrated Tribal Development Society (LITDS). Her father died when she was 10-years-old leaving her mother to bring up five children alone. As if this was not hard enough, Shanthi comes from an indigenous (Adivasi) community which has long been discriminated against and marginalised from mainstream services.
However, Shanthi’s experience was different.
Fr Yesu, the Director of LITDS, encouraged her to continue with her studies. She persevered and achieved A grades in her exams. This enabled her to enrol in a nursing school from which she also graduated with top marks. Today, Shanthi is working in St Joseph’s Hospital nursing the sick in her community including people with COVID-19.
I’d also like to share another story of hope, albeit a very different one.
Fr Stan is an 83-year-old Jesuit. For 50 years, he has worked in Jharkhand, India for the rights of Adivasi people. As a result, he has come to the attention of the Indian government and security services. Some weeks ago, Fr Stan was arrested by the authorities in India, flown to Mumbai and charged with offences under terrorist legislation. He is now in prison.
As well as being elderly, Fr Stan also suffers from Parkinson’s disease. He cannot even hold a cup from which to drink. He is both unjustly detained and at grave risk of contracting COVID-19 in his cramped prison cell.
An international campaign to highlight Fr Stan’s situation and to call for his release has thus far been unsuccessful.
Both Fr Stan’s and Shanthi’s courage, perseverance and desire to put others before themselves truly inspire me. They give me the hope to believe a better world is possible.
Next year will be deeply uncertain and troubling for the poorest people in the world. We need your help to continue to support Jesuit projects in India and in the other 22 countries in which we work around the world.