hen Sonate Kaippananickal visited his aunt in Delhi two years ago, it proved to be his life’s turning point. Then 15 years old, he went to the Indian national capital expecting a thrilling vacation. However, the tenth grader was shocked to find his aunt living and working in a slum. She and her family were members of the Santvana (“consolation”) Community, an association of the Catholic laity. She explained the community aims to present the Gospel to the multitudes who have not heard Christ’s message of salvation — especially the poor. To this end, they accompany those most in need. Sonate plunged into mission work among the slum’s residents. When, after two months, he Nirmala Dasi Sister Lovely Kattumattam assists a resident at Ashraya, an elderly care center on the outskirts of Mumbai.
returned to his home in Vellayamkudi, in the mountainous Idukki district of Kerala, Sonate had a clear vision of his future: He wanted to devote the rest of his life to Christ. “The Delhi slum experience inspired me to join mission works so I can help the poor and downtrodden,” says Sonate, now a first-year candidate of the Missionaries of St. Thomas the Apostle, a Syro-Malabar Catholic congregation that works exclusively in mission areas. Sonate, who hails from the SyroMalabar Eparchy of Kanjirapally, says he had many options to pursue his goal, but chose the Missionaries of St. Thomas because he wanted to do mission work within his own church. He now stands among the many Catholics — Latin, SyroMalabar and Syro-Malankara — whose missionary quest has helped the Indian church become selfsufficient in vocations.
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF CNEWA
The official publication of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA)