The espiritana presence in India began in 2010 on the initiative of a French espiritano, the P. Gabriel Myotte-Duquet. Nevertheless it returned to France, but now there are three brothers: father Sergio Ballanger of France, the P. Juan Francisco de Isla Mauricio and a Nigerian priest, just arrived. The community has a house located in Chennai, (before Madras), in the south-east of India. La India is a very religious country where Hinduism has a great influence. Islam, Christianity and buddhism are also there.
La India is different; as all the missions in Asia. One says that it is the greatest democracy of the world but when one is to open itself to the religion, it is another different thing. The missionaries cannot secure the visa. It is possible to be resided there as tourists or students, it is the case of Juan Francisco. No foreign priest can work in the parishes nor to even open a bank account. The brothers must in cash take of their countries the money with himself. Officially, the Christians are 2%. But in fact they can be more of 10%. Since the majority of Christians is not as such not to lose some of their civil and financial rights. The Hindu nationalistic society is against to any other religion as the Islam or the Christianity. They are much scared to proselytism.
In spite of everything, our espiritanos brothers survive in Chennai in south-eastern India: two priests will be perpetually students. We have 7 students in different levels from formation, and a certain number of aspirings in diverse schools. One of the students is a priest with 10 years of experience. Some of the students made their formation in frica Oriental most of: Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia. For that reason they have experience of the mission, a very positive experience. Nevertheless now they feel that they must be identified more with the congregation than is in Asia. Two of them are in the Novitiate in Vietnam; and they will make the theology in Manilas, (Philippine).
The group of India is growing. The church long ago that settled down there. One feels proud to have to Santo Tom¡s as his founder. The church has a good image due to its medical and educative structures. The vocations are declining, but the Espiritanos, by the simplicity of their communitarian life attract people. We had there been in century XIX in Pondich©ry. Pity of not to have remained.
La India owns a culture very hard, with influence in the world. The church needs to feel strong and our congregation has a work to develop, the one to be next to the poor men, living a simple lifestyle that it is very important as is present at Christian.
A thing that surprises to me is the force, never fallen, of the system of chaste. Although denied, it still exerts a great influence in the population. People of chaste loss still are in a social level very under recognition and prestige respect; and this even happens in the church. There are young people, for example, whom she is prevented them to enter the seminary due to his chaste one.
The challenge now is to present to us in the country; but also to contribute our mission. It can be that we can take I finish the future it in working with the needed people.
Pat Palmer CSSp.