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News from India & Bangladesh May - October 2006

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Dear Friends,

Greetings from the Oxford Mission Family, Behala, Kolkata.

It is the end of February and the weather is warming up. From about 10.30 a.m. till 4.30 p.m. it’s very sunny, and humid also. The time is now 11 a.m. and I have been inspecting the work being done at the Oxford Mission Cemetery for erecting the headstone at Sister Florence SE’s grave (Sister died recently aged 100). Also the renovation work going on at the building where the Pinn School used to be: Nicholas’s Home (for 4-8-year-olds) will be shifted there in another two weeks. Thanks to Mary’s wise advice: and I feel it is a lovely place for their home with plenty of space.

It is cool as it doesn’t have an asbestos roof. It is safe as they will be amongst all the staff of the Mission, and will not have to cross the very busy Diamond Harbour Road four times in the day. The lovely golden boys of the Oxford Mission boarding house are busy with their studies as exams are knocking at the door. Six of our senior boys are appearing for the Madhyamik (High School Final Exam). They have already finished two papers and will be appearing for the rest. They say that they have done well in the last two papers - I joked and said, “Let’s hope the examiner will be able to read your handwriting, ha! ha!” They are bright intelligent boys. It is for all your loving-kindness and support - financial, moral, social and spiritual. It is the sign of the Glory of God.

Sports day

St. Joseph’s Primary School Annual Sports: They may be tiny but they are very fast on their feet.

The Oxford Mission Annual Sports went off well. Our boys showed their mettle. In the ‘Go-as-you-like’ competition the boy who went as a Eunuch won the first prize as he was excellent.

Our boys played the opening music at Janakalyan School’s centenary celebrations. The dignitaries present were amazed at their musical skill. Both Ananta and Sanjib are doing a good job training them, and the teachers of dance, tabla and Bengali song are also doing well - especially Indian dance.

The Epiphany Festival was very well attended. We had about 400 people, including 20 priests from different churches. Bishop Raju, Bishop of Kolkata and our Chairman, led the service. Father Ian Weathrall, of the Cambridge Brotherhood in Delhi, came and gave a message. It was a very solemn evening, and you were all very much in our minds. The anniversary of Father Theodore Mathieson BE was also celebrated, and Sister Florence SE was very much remembered.

St Nicholas’s Day was well attended, and the small ones gave a nice show. They were happy to meet Santa and receive gifts. They sang, danced and acted well. The Christmas Carol Service on the Boys’ Hostel ground was wonderful. The Principals of various schools came with their families and had an enjoyable evening, followed by dinner.

The Scouts with the Scouters (instructors) attended a Camp, and I understand they gave a dance performance on the Camp-Fire Day which the District Commissioner of Scouts greatly appreciated.

In February we had the pleasure of the visit of Denis Doble and Margaret Howe. Their presence gave great joy to the boys, to the old people of Santi Nivash, and of course to the whole Oxford Mission family. Margaret stole their hearts by speaking Bengali to them. I myself am not as good as Margaret in Bengali. Denis was also a joy to us. He is still well known in the British Deputy High Commissioner’s office and also in the British Council. He called on the Deputy High Commissioner, Dr Andrew Hall, and had a long conversation with him. He met his old friends in clubs, and attended an Indian wedding at the Taj Bengal Hotel. He met the Rotarians, and attended the unveiling of the bust of C.F. Andrews by the Governor of West Bengal. Father Weathrall spoke, our Bishop Raju said prayers, and it was a big occasion.

Denis and Father Weathrall attended a very colourful programme at St. John’s Diocesan Girls’ School; Bishop Raju is Chairman, and with his effort and prayers has made it into a premium school in Kolkata. The ex-Governor of Bengal, Justice Shyama Sen, was the chief guest, and it was a nice evening.

We were delighted to have the Revd. John Parry and his group, and also priests and congregation from Thailand. They were with us for more than four hours. They enjoyed themselves mixing with the boys and showing magic to the boys of St. Nick’s. They were impressed with the work that the Oxford Mission does for the boys, and also the upkeep of the Mission area. Dr. Parry was formerly a member of the UK Committee of the OM, but had to leave it when he went to Michigan.

Just a few days ago Mark Tully, a great friend of India whose name you probably know, phoned me to ask if Mrs. Robinson (nee Tully) could come and visit the Oxford Mission, as she would like to see our work, and also the Chapel where she was baptised by Father Douglass in 1944. Father Weathrall took her round and she was very impressed by everything.

The Mathieson Memorial Centre is also about to be built in place of our old Band Room. All paperwork has been done, and sanctions will be in our possession in another two weeks. The architect is doing a good job. Please pray that I may be able to complete this work by next Epiphany-tide. I shall keep you all informed about the progress of the work periodically, with photographs. Praise the Lord!

The Development Programme on the former Sisters’ side of the OM compound is being worked out. It has a lot of paraphernalia to go through, but we hope to prepare a project in the near future. Through it we could raise substantial local money with which to go ahead with the wonderful work of the Oxford Mission. We pray to God to show us the way.

We thank God for 100 years of the Church in Jobarpar, Bangladesh. My wife Kanchan and I were unable to go but I heard all about it from Denis and Margaret. We thank Mother Susila for her invitation. She was always in our prayers for 5 February.

In concluding I thank the OM UK President, Chairman, General Secretary, Treasurer, Editor and members for their wholehearted support. Please pray for me that I may not fail in my duties, for I am frail as are we all. I thank each and every donor, subscriber, supporter and lover of the Oxford Mission, without whose help and kindness this Mission could not continue. I pray for your health, happiness, prosperity and peace.

I thank our Chairman here, the Rt. Revd. P. S. P. Raju, and all the Trustees and Consultative Committee members, for their support, guidance, help and wise counsel.

Lastly, I thank the staff of the Oxford Mission for their hard work, support and love for me, and above all for the boys. I also thank the boys for being so disciplined and dedicated.

Please pray for us. The Oxford Mission is your family and we are yours!


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