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Profiles in Catholicism
 
An Interview with Father Jesu Sathianathen


by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.





 

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Dr. Knight:   How did you get interested in organizing Cope Trust?
     
Father Jesu: 
 




 

 

 

i became interested in this ministry of educating orphan and poor children from reflecting on my own childhood background and on the problems/challenges in India especially catechism, communalism, poverty, and gender disparity. There are five children in our family and my parents were illiterate, and very small farmers who found it hard to make ends meet in the family. But my dad worked very hard and sacrificed a lot to educate us. But I did not get all that I wanted as a child. 

After becoming a priest in 1993  with a motto” to light the other, .my deep desire was to do something for the deprived, orphaned, and poor children and give them all that I did not get as a child like good food, good clothes, a good education, and enough love and care to overcome social barriers (caste, religious fanaticism, and gender disparity) which suppress them and help them to live as human beings first. So I started Cope Trust in 2001 with the help of my friends, and now we are supporting 650 orphans and  poor children through our various projects. Now the motivating force in me is to keep doing this good work in spite of a lot of tensions and hurdles and problems. In the words of Jesus M. 25.45” whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sister, you do unto Me.

   

 

Dr. Knight:
 
 

Why was it important to you?
 

Father Jesu: 
 
 

It is important because the children are the future. Healthy children make a  healthy society, especially the marginalized and poor children must be helped who are very much neglected and despised in India. As a priest and as a believer in Christ Jesus, I needed to to do something to alleviate the pain of poor people, especially poor children.

   

 

Dr. Knight:
 
 

Were you called to this ministry after you were called to priesthood?
 

Father Jesu:  

Yes, I got the chance and opportunity to reflect and pray over my life and on the situation/problems in India only during my priesthood training and after becoming a priest in the light of Gospel values.

     
Dr. Knight:   Was your own childhood as interesting and pleasant as you describe?
     
Father Jesu:
 

 
 

Yes, my childhood was very good and had many good and bad experiences which molded me to be what I am today. My parents taught me about family life and my grandparents taught me to be prayerful. My friends taught me to swim against the odds and society taught me to do something to change it. My priestly training taught me to start to do good and spread the love of Christ by life and ministry.

   

 

Dr. Knight:  

The interest of children is something we should all be concerned about, how could others be part of your ministry?

     
Father Jesu: 
 
 

Most of the friends/supporters /donors become part of our ministry by having personal witness to what we do. Secondly by appealing to people genuinely and explaining to them transparently all that we do for the welfare of the poor children.

   

 

Dr. Knight:
 
 

What are your hopes for the future for the children?
 

Father Jesu: 

 
 

We hope and pray that our children live happy lives with good sense of integrity and with good jobs. We hope and pray that our children will be able to live with self esteem and lead lives of love and sharing with the needy, and create a peaceful society with equality and mutual respect for one another, and break the social evils like castes. It is a great joy for me to do something for the welfare of poor children because I enjoy doing this and it is in my own deep interest to do it. However, I also experience tension, fatigue,  and  frustrations due to political corruption which divides human beings and country. So I often sit in prayer and meditation quietly for some time and then relax with my friends and occasionally take some time off.

   

 

Dr. Knight:
 
 

What do you do to replenish your energy for this ministry?
 

Father Jesu: 
 
 

It is a great joy for me to do something for the welfare of poor children because I enjoy doing this and it is in my own deep interest to do it. However. I also experience tension, fatigue frustrations due to corruption so at this time I sit in prayer and meditation quietly for some time and relax with my friends later and get out for a few days off.
 

   

 

Dr. Knight:
 
 

Are others interested in replicating what you have started?
 

Father Jesu: 
 
 

Yes, there are our own students who are very much motivated to carry out this work and are willing to join us happily to give life to many poor and orphan children. There are two boys and one girl who follow us. These children are very dedicated and committed. Two are currently in college and another one completed her studies and is helping us already.

   

 

Dr. Knight:
 
 

 Is it possible that this would be a model for others to imitate?
 

Father Jesu: 

 
 

We feel so because we are beyond caste, creed and gender but only to serve the deserving human beings specially the children. Moreover, as a priest, you don’t see this work done in this manner without aligning to any group or religion. For me religion is something personal so I don’t impose or invite others to join but bear witness through our life that JESUS loves them through us.

   

 

Dr. Knight:  

Could you describe your curriculum that is so helpful to children?

     
Father Jesu: 

 
 

We start the new school year in the first week of June every year and end it by third week of April. The school starts at 9.15 am and ends at 4.15 pm. The subjects the children learn in school are Tamil, the local language, English, Mathematics, Social Science and Science .They have a sports period during the weeks to play and learn sports. Some days we conduct cultural items like dance, speaking, singing and skits, etc.

     
Dr. Knight:   Are the children all economically poor?  What are their hopes in living in this society?
     
Father Jesu:





























 
 

The children whom we help are very poor and deprived of many things in life.  We love and support them and hope to give them a better life with good education, good food, good clothes, and the spiritual, moral, and psychological support to become leaders in our community and hopefully throughout India.

Here is a prayer for our children and our donors:

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“Every child is a sign that God still loves this world”

God heavenly Father and Mother, we thank and praise you for the gift these orphan and poor children who represent you in this world. We ask you to bless these children in this world specially the children who are under our care and love. They have lost their parents due to various reasons and some have parents but don't care for them. Comfort these children when they are lonely, feed them when they are hungry, help them to be educated.

Shower your blessing upon those us who donate to the welfare of the poor children generously so that they and their families will be your voice of love and sympathy in this world. May they become your hands to clothe, feed and shelter poor children. Pray that their life and business will be blessed abundantly in the coming days and years.

Thru Christ our Lord. Amen

     
Dr. Knight:










 
  "We ask all of our readers and their friends to send a donation to support the mission of the Cope Trust by sending a check to _________________

COPE-TRUST

A/C no ----= 0388073000000051

The South Indian Bank Ltd

Cantonment Branch,

Trichirappalli-620001

Tamil Nadu, South India

with a notation that the donation is for Cope Trust.  They will forward all donations to the Cope Trust Bank.

Here is a statement of support from
Reverend Antony  Devotta, Bishop of Tiruchirappalli, Tamilnadu, India

"This is to inform you that Fr. Jesu Sathianathen is doing a great service by educating and supporting hundreds of the orphan and poor children in my Diocesethru the COPE- TRUST (Children Oriented Progressive Education Trust) with my blessings and permission.  I request you to support his projects thru your generous donations. God bless you,"

Here is another statement of support for Father Jesu from Rev. Fr.Eugene Thomaiyar,  Vicar General, Tiruchirapalli, India

"I appreciate and support Fr. Jesu Sathianathen , the managing Trustee of COPE-Trust (Children Oriented Progressive Education-Trust) because He doing wonderful service by educating orphan, poor  and downtrodden children for the past 17years in the  diocese through his various projects (sponsorship, learning centres and schools). He is working for total development of poor and low caste children irrespective of caste and creed. He is a frontier missionary in the diocese. "