Mass Offerings for 77 priests of the Little Flower Congregation
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus never left the enclosure of her Carmelite convent in the French city of Lisieux, and in fact she died there in the year 1897, at the age of just 24. Yet despite this, she has been declared the Patron Saint of the Missions. For she felt within herself the burning desire to “travel over the whole earth” in order to proclaim the Name of Jesus.
She wrote: “But O my Beloved, one mission alone would not be sufficient for me. I would want to preach the Gospel on all the five continents simultaneously and even to the most remote isles . I would be a missionary, not for a few years only, but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages.…“ Yet, despite the seeming contradiction, this was in no way contrary to her hidden life within the contemplative convent, for she had understood “that love comprises all vocations within it, that love is everything, that it embraces all times and places; in a word, that it is eternal!“ And so she had discovered her vocation: “to be love, in the heart of the Church.”
100 years after her death, and despite her youth, she was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II, and today she is honoured by millions of Catholics all over the world. One of those who was profoundly moved by his “encounter” with this great little saint was an Indian priest, Father Thomas Panat.
Over 85 years ago, in Kerala in southern India, he translated her autobiographical writings, the Story of a Soul into the local language. Her „Little Way“ of love appealed profoundly to him, as a spirituality characterized entirely by a childlike trust in the boundless Love of God, without allowing ourselves to be discouraged by our own empty hands. It is a spirit encapsulated in the words of Jesus in the Gospel when he told his apostles, „Unless you are converted and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.“ Indeed, Father Thomas was so taken by it that he decided to try and follow it himself, together with other priests. As early as 1931, with the permission of his bishop, he joined together with a group of other young men in order to live this spirituality. This gave rise in 1947 to the Congregation of the Little Flower – the „Little Flower“ being the name by which St Therese is lovingly known. Thomas Panat took the religious name of „Father Basil“, the name by which he later became famous. He died in 1976 at the age of 85.
Today the Congregation of the Little Flower is blessed with numerous vocations. It has grown to include four religious provinces today and is now present not only in India but in other countries as well. The Fathers devote themselves to the care of the poor, the elderly, the sick, the orphans and the disabled, especially those in remote and underprivileged regions. In areas where there is virtually no infrastructure they build clinics, schools, vocational training centres for young people, residential homes for the young and spiritual centres, and they also help and support the small local farmers. Yet for all these services they receive no remuneration. And so the superior of the Province of St Joseph in India has appealed to ACN for Mass Offerings for the support of 77 priests of this congregation.
Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we are able to provide them with these Mass intentions, for a total value of $21,170 CAN.