“Cycling priest” goes house to house to meet the sick
Based in Gujarat, Father Vinod Kanattu visits everyone on their birthday, providing care daily as suggested by the World Day of the Sick the Church celebrates on 11 February.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church of India like the Churches all over the world will celebrate World Day of the Sick next Thursday, 11 February, the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Pope John Paul II instituted the day in 1992. For Father Vinod Kanattu, the day has special meaning.
A member of the Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) in Rajkot, Gujarat, Father Kanattu is known as the “cycling priest“ for his long travels on two wheels to reach his parishioners, especially the sick who are among the main recipients of his pastoral care.
“At a time when the elderly are forgotten, I try, in my little way, to bring comfort and consolation to those who need so much attention,” the clergyman told AsiaNews. “In my parish of St Ann I visit every person on their birthday. I started in 2010 and since then I haven't missed a single one.”
“Today, for example, is the birthday of Carmeline Dias, an 87-year-old widow. Every year I bring her a cake, a birthday card and the meal with which we celebrate together.”
“Since many people no longer take care of their elderly parents, I think even a simple show of attention is very significant.”
Father Kanattu also welcomed Sadhavi Prasannadevi, a Syro-Malabar nun who lived as a hermit for 41 years in the Junagadh forest, dedicating herself to contemplation and prayer.
“Today she is 87 and has some age-related health problems but she has no next-of-kin,” the cycling priest explained. “So I'm the one who takes care of her by getting her food and medicine. She is very happy about it.”
A solemn Eucharistic celebration will be held on the Day of the Sick in Father Kanattu’s parish, with a special prayer and blessing for all the people who ill.
Like every year it will also provide an opportunity to honour those who work in the health professions and all those who take care of the sick.