12/23/2020, 16.57
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Gujarat: the ‘cycling’ priest at Christmas helping a needy family

by Nirmala Carvalho

For many, preparing for the festivity means setting up the nativity scene and baking cakes. But the true meaning of Jesus’ birth is to be close to those who are “in desperate need of assistance”. The story of Ms Esperance, mother of two disabled daughters and suffering from a spinal injury, is an example. Her days and nights in intensive care were filled with prayers for healing.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – For many people, Christmas preparations mean “setting up the crib, decorating the tree and lighting the house, cooking cakes or sweet dishes for the party.” But for Fr Vinod Kanatt CMI, the “cycling priest” of St Ann’s Church in Rajokt, Gujarat, “the upcoming Christmas means being close to the needy, to those in desperate need of assistance,”

“I am happy to serve the needy,” said the priest, who belongs to the Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate. “Jesus has always been close to the needy and the oppressed, asking for compassion for the marginalised and the less fortunate in society.”

“Joseph and Mary struggled to see Jesus born.” They had a “tiring journey to Bethlehem”, which is very similar to the journey full of obstacles and difficulties of a family he is currently helping.

This family experiences the “anxiety and worries” of everyday life, but has also been forced to follow “medical treatments in hospital” helped by “the contribution of parishioners and benefactors from the whole diocese”. This is even more important at this time of celebration.

For the past few days (and nights), Fr Vinod Kanatt has been at Christ Hospital in Rajokt, taking care of one of his parishioners, Ms Esperance J D’Souza.

“She has two daughters with severe handicaps. Since 15 December, she has been in intensive care, on a ventilator” coping with a very difficult situation greatly concerned about her health. But she later went “back to the regular ward and is much better,” Fr Kanatt said.

At such a time of great anxiety, her “husband took care of their daughters” while Fr Kanatt spent as much time with her as possible, day and night. However, “she was discharged today and was able to reunite with her family in the evening.”

“I went with her to Junagadh, because today she was able to leave the hospital,” said the priest who drove her for 102 km, the distance between her home town and Rajkot.

“Esperance's husband gets a monthly pension of only 2,500 rupees (about US$ 35). With two daughters with severe mental and physical disabilities,” aged 29 and 31, daily life is hard. “One of the two is bed-ridden, while the other can barely crawl”. What is more, “Ms Esperance suffered a spinal injury three years ago and can now do nothing. I go to their

“I try to provide whatever they need, including food from time to time. I also help them with money when needed. In a month, I can provide four or five hot lunches for them, and about 15,000 rupees for their expenses.”

For the clergyman, this too is a way to prepare for Christmas.

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