Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My life in the Catholic Seminary-1

We were 7 children and we all worked hard with our parents to survive. After completing SSLC in a nearby school, I joined the Ernakulam petite seminary as my people did not have the means to send me to college. There I lived believing in God-as a true follower of Jesus and the Bible. The priests in the seminary detested me as I was dark and from a very poor family. 

I was happy to be in the minor seminary for three reasons: I could learn new languages and religions. There was enough food and we could play a number of games during the intervals (something altogether new in my life). But the rector was a stumbling block in eating enough and in playing to my heart's content. In the refectory, we were seated in a row and more food was served at the first seats (that of the prefect, procurator, and their deputies who managed the servants) and the quantity dwindled in proportion to the distance from the head of the table. As I was seated towards the end of the row, our plates would be half empty. Our rector, Father Joseph Panappilly would be around for breakfast, lunch and dinner inspecting how much we ate. He had some chronic stomach ailment (he was frail and thin) and he could not eat much. He did not want us to eat either. If I asked for another serving he would stare at me and in a few days I learnt to end up (breakfast, lunch and dinner) half-way and rose up half empty to avoid his stare and displeasure.

There were other problems too. The seniors teased and mocked us whenever they could. I joined a little late as I had an accident at home in which my leg was hurt. As I was a late comer the ire of the whole lot of the senior seminarians got focused on me. My belongings were substandard and cheap.  Many of the seniors used to look at them and smile sarcastically. During the recreation after dinner, they would swarm around me, ridicule and make fun of me so severely that I was on the verge of crying many a day. Thomas Narikulam was a tall, fair and handsome seminarian liked by the rector and the Archbishop-cardinal Dr. Joseph Parecattil. He made my life an ordeal. My head has a small backward elongation and he would hold the portion with his long fingers teasingly whenever he happened to be near me. This was very irritating and humiliating (what could I do to change the shape of my head?) and it happened more in the chapel when we assembled for prayers. His place was just behind mine and he would hold there (he was supposed to be praying) and giggle. He knew I would be sad and irritated, but he enjoyed it with some sadistic pleasure. With all his mischievous acts he knew how to be in the good books of the rector and the Archbishop. He had the looks of course. He would come earliest into the chapel after waking up. After each lecture or study hour he would run to pray; he knew our rector would be watching. He was below average in studies but they all liked him so much that he was sent to Rome for higher studies after just three years! I heard later, that he has a chance to become a bishop! 

There was another senior, George a guy who made my life a hell too. He knew how to rag me to tears. He was later allegedly involved in molesting a few of his cousin nuns (who had to leave the convents when they became pregnant) and a number of other women. He was the head priest of an important parish that had a hospital and a school. Now I do not know where he is-he could have retired. This guy was also fair and in the good books of the rector. I had noticed that the rector liked fair and good-looking aspirants from better families. The dark, not-so-good-looking ones from poor homes happened to be in his bad books. That is how God dispensed his justice and love through his 'Alter Christus'. From the petite seminary I learnt one important lesson: to be in the good books of the superiors or to gain favors from them be in their good books all the time doing whatever mischief you want in the sly. 

While we were in the minor seminary we had heard that our Cardinal had gone to meet the high court judge to help father Benedict the accused (sentenced to death by the district and sessions court ) in the Mariakutty murder case. Later we heard the news that the father was set free by the High court. I then understood the the catholic Church was rich and powerful. 

Well, the most interesting aspect of Catholic life is that anyone can commit any number of sins-grave and mortal sins included. Confess, pretend to repent and the god would forgive you. This could be one of the reasons why deeply religious societies are more criminal. They wouldn't dare to do such heinous acts if there was no god  prompting them under the guise of his promises. 

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