Six Congregation of Mother Carmel sisters fought for justice against an archdiocese in Kerala
Indian Catholic nuns take part in a Good Friday procession in Amritsar, Punjab, on April 15. (Photo: AFP)
A new book on the struggle by six Catholic nuns for justice has been released in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
My Prophetic Struggle: The Narakkal Story, jointly written by Carmelite Sister Annie Jaise and feminist theologian Kochurani Abraham, was released on June 26.
The struggle in Narakkal refers to a bitter land dispute between the Amala province of the Congregation of Mother Carmel (CMC) and Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese based in Kerala from 2007 to 2015.
The archdiocese is also the seat of power of Cardinal George Alencherry, the head of the Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church, which has more than five million followers.
“It is not just a story but a reality and part of history,” said Sister Jaise after the book was released online by Sister Elsa Muttathu, national secretary of the Conference of Religious of India.
The prolonged battle fought by the sisters reached the Supreme Court, which restored the ownership of Little Flower Girls High School in Narakkal to the nuns and dismissed the ownership claim of the parish.
“I am optimistic that reading this book will motivate hundreds of women and men, especially women religious, to get out of the shell of a devotee of Jesus and become a radical disciple of Jesus"
“This book is just a glimpse of how one’s life is transformed after being close to Christ, especially after a long struggle for justice from Catholic Church authorities,” Sister Jaise told UCA News on June 27.
It narrates how infuriated archdiocesan officials with the help of some local goons even physically assaulted the sisters, seriously injuring them.
In another incident, the indigenous order’s superior was held hostage and made to sign documents under duress, transferring the ownership of the school land.
“We have valid legal documents to prove all that has been narrated in the book,” Sister Jaise claimed.
She regretted that even today the Church is not following the teachings of Christ in real life. Instead, it makes people recite some prayers and read the Bible. “The Narakkal struggle could not have taken place if church authorities had followed the teachings of Christ,” she added.
Co-author Abraham said the Church must give proper representation to women, particularly women religious. “Their [nuns] enslavement should end and only then the Church will reflect the mind of Jesus Christ in reality,” she said.
Father Jacob Peenikaparambil, who played a major role in the publication of the book, said: “I am optimistic that reading this book will motivate hundreds of women and men, especially women religious, to get out of the shell of a devotee of Jesus and become a radical disciple of Jesus. If this metamorphosis can take place, the Church in India will be blessed.”
Father Varghese Alengaden, director of the Indore-based Universal Solidarity Movement, said the 198-page book is a must-read for all religious, especially those in leadership roles.
“The book is a call to the renewal of the Church — to repent and return to Christ, the revolutionary leader who fought against injustice,” he added.
Share your comments