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Apostolic Movement

The Schoenstatt Fathers’ mission in Punjab, India

Fr. Praveen Vathelil

New Face of Schoenstatt Fathers in Punjab

After constant reflection, prayers and discussions, the Schoenstatt Fathers of Providence Province in India, have initiated a new mission venture in the northern part of the country, Punjab.

Punjab is a state in the northwest region of India and is one of the most prosperous states. Agriculture is the mainstay of the region’s economy. Other major industries include manufacturing of scientific instruments, electrical goods, financial services, machine tools, textiles, sewing machines, etc.

From the brief historical perspective, it is clear that the Catholic Church in Punjab is comparatively young. Evangelization has always been a priority. The amazing rise of Catholics from a few thousand to 20 lakhs (2.000.000) exemplifies the missionary passion and dedication of priests, monks, and lay leaders. While this effort continues, particularly in specific locations and among certain people, the Church has begun the second phase of strengthening Christian communities through ample pastoral care. Before, evangelization was the priority, now the current emphasis is on developing mature Christians, communities, and responsible citizens.

In response to the Call of Mission by the Catholic Church, Schoenstatt Fathers have officially extended their support to establish a mission region in the Syro – Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Faridabad (Delhi) and in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar (Punjab) which began on the month of June 2022. Fr. Praveen Vathelil, Fr. Jithin Kadayilan, Fr. Tinu Philip, Fr. Binoi Kuriakose and Fr. Sinto Sebastian are the pioneering members who responded to the missionary call in Punjab.

Schoenstatt Mission House at Bhagta Bai Ka

In the initial stage, we were in Jaito, a township situated in Faridkot District of Punjab and then we moved to Bhagta Bai Ka.

Bhagta Bai Ka is a township situated in Bathinda District of Punjab, India.

Living in a rented house, we accepted the invitation to work in the mission region of the Syro – Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Faridabad (Delhi) to establish a Catholic Community using the Schoenstatt Spirituality formation and to establish a school for the Schoenstatt Fathers’ Community in the future.

On January 1st, 2023, Father Abraham, Mission Director of Sacred Heart Mission, Jaitu, inaugurated the mission center in Bagtha bai ka. The Regional Council eventually nominated Fr. Praveen as Rector and Fr. Jithin as Administrator to be in charge of the movement at this Mission Center.

Fr. Binoi and Fr. Sinto are based in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar (Punjab). Fr. Binoi is currently serving as Assistant Parish Priest (Dhariwal) and Assistant Director of a school called Little Flower. Fr. Sinto is a Spiritual Father of the Diocesan Minor Seminary and Assistant Parish Priest at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar (Punjab).

Our house serves as a point of contact for all of the Schoenstatt Fathers working in Punjab and Delhi. We live here as a community, fulfilling our religious and community commitments in every manner according to Schoenstatt’s Spirituality.

A Mission Approach in the name of St. Mary’s Mission Station

St. Mary’s Mission Station is a new Mission Station that was blessed and handed over to us by Archbishop Kuriakose Baranikkulagara on April 26, 2023.

We are expected to establish a faithful community and subsequently, a parish. The Archbishop appointed Fr. Praveen and Fr. Jithin as Director and Assistant Director, respectively. We named it after the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it is now known as St. Mary’s Mission Station.

We began the mission by forming a faithful community with the assistance of a catechist (Babuji) and have initiated our ministry in four surrounding villages of Bhagta Bai Ka. We currently have regular House Visits, Village Community meetings, and Sunday Mass for small housing groups.

Since the aim of our involvement is to establish a faithful community in the initial stage, we have to get acquainted with the people to bring to them the Good News of Christ in the upcoming days and years. Fostering a Catholic mission region in the vicinity of Punjab is a big challenge but we are currently undertaking the mission with our complete trust in the Divine Providence.

Initiatives in the St. Mary’s Mission Station

We are currently in the early phase of our mission in Punjab and have had many good experiences at our mission locations since June 1, 2022. We met several people, missionary priests and nuns, and visited numerous schools and mission stations throughout the state, including the Faridabad and Jalandhar dioceses. The encounters with them have been eye opening and have revealed to us various possibilities and opportunities in the region.

In spite of many challenges, this mission foresees a future local Schoenstatt community. This is the fruit that we expect from this Mission endeavour. To fulfil this desire, we have initiated a few mission programs that can bring people to us.

Possibility of an Educational Institution

A practical alternative to fulfil the Schoenstatt charism at this point is to establish an educational institution in this region. This will also help our community to achieve financial stability in the future. While simultaneously establishing a positive public image, this also creates the possibility of forming a new community in our name. This would undoubtedly assist us in gradually becoming a Christian community and, eventually, establishing a parish.

Forming a New Person in a New Community

Because there are Christians in every village in Punjab, spreading and establishing our ministry is not as challenging. Many people are interested in knowing and experiencing Jesus in their life. Many of them come looking for healing and miracles.

People who come to us to pray and to attend Holy Mass are at the beginning of their spiritual journey and formation. They even need to learn to make the sign of the cross and get acquainted with many basic Catholic prayers, and we must devote time and find resources to offer training for these Catechumens with the assistance of Catechists. This provides an opportunity to create a faithful community which identifies with Schoenstatt’s Spirituality.

Social Projects to Promote the Inclusion

We believe it is critical to expand our good deeds through a variety of social activities in villages, such as self-help organizations, classes for various age groups, and tailoring, among others, in order to contribute to the development of Punjab’s impoverished population. We are able to interact and establish direct communication with the people living in Punjab’s villages in this way.

With the help of the Sion Streams course, a small scholarship initiative for underprivileged kids called the Steams & Smile Scholarship initiative was started with this goal. Six kids are presently receiving academic support from us.

There is still much to be done, but with the guidance of Divine Providence and the care of our Mother and Queen, we are forming new persons to build a new society together.


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