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News of our work India & Bangladesh May - October 2007

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<Pl> The splendid new Mathieson Memorial Music Centre, built in memory of Father Theodore Mathieson BE The Mathieson Memorial Music Centre
Father Theodore Mathieson BE, who devoted his life to the care and musical education of the boys at Behala, died in 1994. Now at last we have a memorial worthy of him and his work: the old Band Room has been replaced with a magnificent new Music Centre. Simon Ling, Chairman of the Mission’s UK Committee and also a nephew of Father Theodore, went out to Kolkata to attend the ceremonial opening in December 2006, and he and Arijeet Roy, Administrator of OM Behala, both describe for us this splendid event.

A Community Asset
The new Music Centre will not only benefit the boys but can also be hired by the local community for staging concerts, plays and gatherings of all kinds. The beautiful grounds of the OM Behala have always been open to the public, with some necessary restrictions, and available for good causes. Last November the West Bengal State AIDS Prevention Control sponsored a shoot on the compound of a video album on AIDS prevention, and a photograph, naming the OM, appeared in a local paper. Such events make the Mission better known, and gather extra revenue to help its work.

Cheeky boys outside the new hall! Mother Susila CSS
Mother is now 82, and her health has been giving cause for great concern over the past six months. At the time of writing she is out of hospital and back home in Jobarpar, very tired but relatively free from pain. Our prayers are always with her, and with the Sisters of the Christa Sevika Sangha who are looking after her so devotedly. So we have no ‘Letter from the CSS at Barisal and Jobarpar’ this time. But Simon went on from Kolkata to the compounds in Bangladesh, and we have his account of his visit, and the Letters of Bishop Michael Baroi, Bishop of Dhaka, and Mr. Byapari, Manager at Barisal, to bring us up to date.

Taking part, and also in the photograph, was handsome Sourav Ganguly, former Indian cricket captain and a long-time friend of the Mission who used to play cricket on its grounds. He pleased Sister Florence SE immensely by attending her 100th birthday party in 2003, and engaging her in lively conversation!

Fund-raising for the Mission
We are always grateful to those parishes and individuals who help us by raising money for the work of the Mission, and love to hear from them. In our last issue Richard Stevens described rocking them in the aisles with an imitation of Elvis Presley! The Churches of St. Mary Magdalene and St. Guthlac in Leicester chose a quieter method: they have raised considerable sums over the past twenty years through a series of Lenten Lunches.

Lorna Kirk tells us how they were first inspired by a visit from Sister Florence SE, and how their donations supported her special work at Behala. Sister would write every year to the Parish to thank them. She died in 2004, and “how I miss her lovely informative letters”, says Lorna. The parish is now helping to sponsor new initiatives by the OM.

Another fund-raiser
Mary Marsh, our General Secretary, is a keen rider: here she is taking part in a charity flat-race. Win or lose, the charity will benefit -and she is enjoying every minute! A New Editor
We are delighted to welcome Pam Walton as our new Editor. She is a friend of the General Secretary, Mary Marsh, with whom she will mostly be working, and lives near Romsey, where Mary lives, and near the OM Office. Pam writes of her career: “I started my nurse training at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in 1968. Having worked there for a year after qualifying, I then moved to Oxford, working on the Special Care Baby Unit for ten years. I have been working in Southampton since 1983, firstly as Manager of the Baby Unit, and now working over the whole hospital helping nursing and medical staff with difficult or complex discharges. The job includes providing weekly information for the Department of Health and liaising closely with Social Services. “My other interests?

• I love English

• I regularly do the Telegraph crossword!

• and everything to do with gardening.

I was a Sunday School Teacher at Driffield Methodist Church, East Yorkshire in the late 60s. “In January this year I decided to take my NHS pension and am now working part-time - hence my friend Mary Marsh suggested that I could help the Oxford Mission!”

An impressive record -the Mission is lucky to have her. I am sure Pam will find the job as stimulating and rewarding as I have, and wish her all the best. Please note her address and telephone number replacing mine – +44 (0) 1794 323387 - see also our contacts page, from which you can send her an e-mail if you wish!

This is my last issue: my ‘farewell’ can be read further on in this newsletter.


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