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Father Andrew And Pat - Missionaries To India
By Editor

St. Luke parish has been supporting various missionaries in Mexico, Alaska, Albania and South America by directly contributing to missionaries or through the Orthodox Christian Mission Center. This year St. Luke will send their priest and his wife on a mission team to India. Father Andrew and Pat answered the call from the Mission Center to go to India in September of this year. They are now raising the necessary funds to support the month long mission. The amount, which must be raised, is $7000. plus incidental expenses.

As Orthodox Christians in the 21st century, we are inexperienced in missions. Many question the reason for missionary activity in far off places and why those who take on the mission are required to raise their own funds. We all need to be reminded that the Orthodox Church in America began as a mission, which was partly funded by missionary societies. St. Innocent established a missionary society in Russia, which supported missions both in Russia and North American. We also need to be reminded of the great Commission of Jesus Christ to preach the Gospel to all nations.

The mission program in India is a charitable outreach of the International Orthodox Church under the protection of the ecumenical Patriarch Barthomew. It was founded in Kalighat, Kolkata (Calcutta) by Father Ignatios Sennis as a Philanthropic Society in 1993. The society's charitable work is devoted to physical nourishment, health, shelter, education and social needs of the poor in 52 villages in West Bengal. The web site describes the numerous humanitarian programs, which help the destitute and needy.

An example of the physical nourishment program as described on the Web Site is the Morning Feeding program. Daily, the program feeds vitamin-enriched milk and biscuits to approximately 200 to 250 children, aged between 6 months to 16 years. All of them are homeless children of the slums, which are located near the Orthodox Church in Calcutta. This intake of vitamin-enriched milk and biscuits may be the only nourished food the children may have for that day.

The education of children is integral part of the Society's work. Three main Bengali Medium primary schools have been set up. The schools are located in Kaknan, Monsuka and Monaharpur and are built of cement and bamboo. Both boys and girls are taught up to 4th grade. They receive school supplies, study materials, uniforms and education all free of charge.

Homelessness is a chronic problem for the poor of Calcutta. Homeless families cook their meals, wash their dishes and sleep completely exposed to pollution and extreme weather conditions. They live without refuge in tropical sun, monsoon rain, humidity, and freezing temperatures. Addressing these needs the Society has built many homes around West Bengal for the homeless. The brick homes have two small rooms, a leak resistant roof, sanitation facilities and clean running water. These homes only cost $1,500 to build in India.

The Philanthropic Society has formed two Orphanages, one for orphan boys and one for orphan girls regardless of caste, creed or religion. The Boys' Orphanage is located in Kakdip and has around 50 boys aged between 4 years to 16 years. Complete care of nutritious meals, free education, school supplies, study materials, medical aid and clothing are provided. The Girls' Orphanage has the capacity has approximately 150 girls, aged between 2 years to 16 years. The boys and girls are given complete care where nutritious foods are served five times a day. A dental clinic and health care clinic operates on site providing free health care.

There is a desperate need for clothing. People go either naked, or in rags that can barely cover them. During the winter season they need warm clothes such as scarves, gloves, socks, jumpers, coats and blankets. During the summer season they need nightwear, underwear and shoes. The philanthropic society distributes the appropriate clothing according to the season to all genders and ages. Assistance is being provided from generous donations from Orthodox churches particularly from Greece and Australia. Not only do they send clothes but also food, toys, study materials and stationary.

Fr. Andrew will be available for whatever assistance he can give. As a priest, Fr. Andrew will be teaching catechism, performing sacraments and preaching. Pat's gift for working with and teaching young children will be utilized in the orphanage. You can participate in the mission by making a donation. Use the Enclosed envelope. Also log onto the website for more information about the mission in India www.psoc-cal.org.

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