27th February 2000

Front Page
Editorial/Opinion| Business| Sports|
Sports Plus| Mirror Magazine

The Sunday Times on the Web


Baby Tiana

She's a mini Rom'

Contents Index Page
Front Page
Sports Plus
Mirrror Magazine


Thousands of people of all races, religions and social status flock to the miracle centre at Chalakudyin Kerala to be healed of their physical, psychological and spiritual illnesses

By Louis Benedict

Lifting their hands in prayerGiving good news to the poor, telling the blind that they can see and setting the down-trodden, broken-hearted or vice-ridden people free are the goals of a Kerala-based university of life where up to 10,000 piligrims come every week.

They come for a seven-day retreat for healing and liberation from sin, suffering and sadness that self-interest causes.

We were in this miracle retreat centre at Chalakudy from February 5 to 12 seeing thousands of people of all races, religions and social status being healed of their physical, psychological and spiritual illnesses.

Forty years ago when Pope John launched the historic Second Vatican Council, the Pontiff prayed for a renewal of wonders. This is what is said to be happening at the Divine Retreat Centre and its forerunner, the Potta Ashram at Chalakudy in Kerala.

With about 10,000 people being led into a new life every week, it means that every month some 40,000 people are being brought into a deep spiritual experience of the values of love, mercy and forgiveness, sharing and generosity.

In the process, miracles, wonders and healings take place every day and even every hour. The faith, commitment and intensity of unceasing prayer at the Centre are so strong that miracles are believed to take place naturally.

At a prayer tower in the Centre a group is constantly in prayer all day and all night interceding for others.

A person whose grandchild was not talking gave a petition to the prayer tower asking for healing. Within hours the message came back that the child had been healed. The grandmother was skeptical but a believer advised her to telephone her home in another state and check. She did and was speechless when the good news was confirmed.

Every week, retreats are conducted in seven languages - the state language Malayalam, English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada (the language of Karnataka) and Konkani (the language of Goa). People come from all States of India, Sri Lanka, West Asia and other countries for these retreats conducted by priests of the Vincentian Congregation along with lay Catholic preachers and about 500 volunteers.

Not only spiritual but physical needs are provided for in a manner and magnitude that leave most churches looking like spiritual beggars. How did it all begin? Some years ago a Kerala resident had returned from Bombay with full-blown Aids. When the people of his area heard about it, they had threatened to stone him and his family and chased them away. The family had fled to the Chalakudy Ashram, where they were given love and compassion. From there began a mission to look after the socially-rejected AIDS sufferers. Today about 30 AiDs patients and their families are being cared for at Chalakudy, with all their needs provided for - including a separate room for each family with all facilities.

When volunteers were cleaning up the rooms after one retreat they had found two dying kidney patients abandoned by their relatives. In prayer, the congregation had come to the conclusion that it was a sign from God for them to look after the dying and disabled. Today a few hundred such people are being cared for. 

Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran, Director of RetreatsWhen we asked Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran, Director of Retreats how so much was being done for so many by so few, he said three key factors go into it - trusting or mountain moving faith, unwavering commitment and a deep desire to seek and do God's will.

Young Fr. Vallooran, whose messages at Holy Mass daily touch the lives of thousands, said they were looking after 1,500 sick or rejected people through sheer faith. Freely they receive and freely they give.

The Centre also runs homes for the rehabilitation through love, of drug addicts and alcoholics and destitute mothers and children.

We had in our group a person who had been driven by circumstances to take to the bottle. But at the Centre he was touched by love and freed from his weakness. 

Plans are underway to take under its wing mental patients too. Though medical care would be provided to them, the main treatment generated would be love and compassion.

The Potta Ashram had been established as a centre of the Popular Mission Retreats, through which the Vincentian Congregation have been preaching in Kerala for more than half a century.

The growing numbers converging on the Potta Ashram for the residential retreats stretched the facilities available. Therefore a sprawling area was acquired at Muringoor on the banks of the Chalakudy river, six kilometres from Potta. Set in the very heart of tranquility, amidst verdant flora, it was aptly named the Divine Retreat Centre.

In our group, we had 60 Sri Lankan priests including the Vicar-General and about 20 lay people who experienced an inner transformation and liberation. The verbalisation of any liberative experience is but a shadow of the substance. Thus the motto and call of Chalakudy is: "Come and see".

Pilgrimages to Chalakudy at the lowest possible cost are being arranged from Sri Lanka and those who wish to join could contact Christobel Savarimuttu (Tel. 523017 or 077 354200) or Antoinette(731241).


More Plus

Return to Plus Contents


Plus Archives

Front Page| News/Comment| Editorial/Opinion| Plus| Business| Sports| Sports Plus| Mirror Magazine

Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to 

The Sunday Times or to Information Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.

Presented on the World Wide Web by Infomation Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd. Hosted By LAcNet