by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D, Profiles in Catholicism
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 specially catechism, communalism, poverty and gender disparity. There are five children in our family and my parents were illiterate and very small farmers found hard to meet the both ends 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 do something for the deprived, orphan and poor children and give them all that did not get as a child like good food, good dress, good education and enough love and care and enable to come over social barriers (caste and religious fanaticism and gender disparity) which suppress them and make them to live as human beings first. So I started this Cope-Trust in 2001 with the help of my friends and now we are supporting 650 orphan poor children thru our various projects. Now the motivating force in me to keep doing this good work in spite of lot of tensions and hurdles and problem is the Words of Jesus Mt25.45” whatever you do 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 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 cannot be but to go out 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 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 lot of good and bad experiences which molded me to be what I am today. My parents taught me about family life and my grand parents taught me to be prayerful , My friends taught me to swim against the odds and the society taught me to do something to change it. and priestly training taught me to start to doing 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 life with good sense of integrity and with good jobs. We hope that our children will be able to live with self esteem and lead life of love and sharing with the needy and create peaceful society with equality and mutual respect for one another and break the social evils like castes, and communalism which divide the human beings and country.
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 my own deep interest to do it. However. I also experience tension, fatigue frustrations due to corruption around 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 like to follow us. These children are very dedicated and committed . Two are are currently college and another one completed her study and 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. More over, as a priest, you don’t see any one does in this manner without aligning to any group or religions. 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 thru 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 end at 4.15pm. The subjects the children learn in school are Tamil local language, English, Mathematics, Social Science and Science .They have 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: We know that your desperately need financial assistance to help the children that you care for and we are asking our readers if there is a US organization whom may accept donations on your behalf and cend them to you by electronic bank transfer monthly.
Father Jesu: Here is a prayer our children and the donors who help support them
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 dont 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 coming days and years.
Thru Christ our Lord ..Amen