“Evangelizare Pauperibus misit me”. This is the motto of our congregation. St. Vincent De Paul our holy founder guided by the Holy Spirit lived this motto in his life and passed it on to his followers as a heritage. Christ the evangelizer of the poor was his role model and it is to the same Christ Vincent advised his followers to look up to. His missionary zeal knew no boundaries. He sent confreres beyond the borders of France to support local Churches in Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Poland, Algiers, Madagascar, etc.
Faithful to this legacy Madrid Province of the Congregation of the Mission, a century ago, sent Spanish Vincentians to India. We remember gratefully the services and sacrifices of 54 Spanish Vincentians in evangelizing the poor in Southern Orissa, India. Over the years the Indian provinces have grown big in personnel capabilities and started sending missionaries crossing the national and continental boundaries.
Myanmar is a country, border to India, where Vincentian presence has not reached yet. Northern Indian Province has been contemplating the idea of beginning a Vincentian mission in that country. The idea of starting a Vincentian mission in Myanmar took a step forward when Most Rev. Felix Lian, bishop of Kalay diocese, requested the Superior General, Fr. Tomaz Mavric, to help out the local church by establishing a Vincentian mission in Myanmar. In response to bishop’s request Fr. Basil Thottamkara from the Northeast Region of India, a confrere gifted for pioneering work, was asked to explore the possibility of starting a Vincentian mission in Myanmar. Fr Basil made several visits to Myanmar establishing necessary connectivity by contacting bishops, religious and catholic communities in Myanmar.
The Myanmar mission project was further strengthened with the meeting between Bishop Felix Lian of Myanmar and the Superior General, Fr. Tomaz Mavric, together with other diocesan and provincial authorities of North Indian Province in November 2019 in Moreh Parish, India. Bishop Felix Lian was very supportive and proposed Tuivang as a new Parish for the Vincentians. All preparations were made to begin the Vincentian community in Myanmar. However the Pandemic and political turmoil in Myanmar created new hurdles and challenges for starting the Vincentian community in Myanmar. So after long dialogue with all concerned we decided to establish a Vincentian center in Joldam which is a place in the Indian side at the border to Myanmar. Staying at Joldam Vincentian center we intend to reach out to catholic communities in Myanmar and promote vocations from there for the Congregation. Our aim is to begin Vincentian communities in Myanmar in course of time and thus plant the Congregation in Myanmar. This is a long term project and I believe God will bless our missionary efforts. If God willing we hope to see a day when expansion of Vincentian activities will be made possible in Myanmar through Myanmarese Vincentians themselves.
Joldam Vincentian center is our base and we are trying to build up the center with necessary institutions. This Vincentian center is fully functional at the moment with temporary structures which can last only 2 to 3 years. So making permeant structures is a necessity. At the moment we, Fr. Basil and Fr. John, are in Joldam Vincentian center fully involved in Myanmar mission project. As we move forward some more confreres intend to join us in this missionary efforts. The assistance and support we receive from the General Curia for this missionary endeavors increase our enthusiasm to move ahead in spite of the challenges. St. Vincent said: “Let us allow God to act. God brings things to completion when we least expect it.”
Fr. Basil Thotamkara CM