A Year with Don Bosco in India

by Mary Pat Collins, Salesian Lay Missioner

This past year at Don Bosco Deodurga I have fallen deeply in love with the people; I have seen the face of Christ in the children and members of the community; I have been embraced by God and infused with the Holy Spirit.

I was invited into the homes of strangers where I was treated like a princess. I’m sure that the upitu or chai they offered me was a sacrifice they bore because of their unselfish kindness and hospitality. I witnessed the prayer of Hindus, Muslims and Christians in Deodurga, where all its inhabitants coexist peacefully, treating each other with mutual respect. The devotion to God I witnessed in both young children as well as aging elders was humbling and inspirational. The undying fidelity to one’s family and country was truly moving. It was apparent to me that though so many were suffering with poor health, meager living conditions or the all too common loss of loved ones, they were able to find solace through their unshakable faith in God.

When my friends and family from home ask me why I love India so much, I answer, “It’s India’s people that I love,” as they have made me feel more loved than I’ve ever felt in my life. Because of the love they gave me I was able to love myself more, something that in the past I’d struggled with. I will be forever grateful for the gift of this year and to all of the people who helped mold me along the way.

For these reasons, I vow to help these people to the best of my ability in the years to come. As the Catholic population grows in Deodurga’s surrounding villages, the need for new churches as well as resources to accommodate the Catholic children in the Don Bosco School is growing. For now I will try to offer my heartfelt prayers and down the road I hope to help financially. I will do my best to invite others to join in the “fight against poverty”; especially spiritual poverty.

I hope and pray that more volunteers can share in this experience and find the true meaning of the joy of service.