Fr. Mathew Chennakudy, SVD
A Testimony to the Holy Spirit
How The Word Among Us Came About in India
By Fr. Mathew Chennakudy, SVD
Fr. Mathew Chennakudy, SVD is from Ayamkudy, India. He professed first vows as a Divine Word Missionary in 1984 and was ordained a priest in 1992. He earned a master’s degree in journalism from Marquette University in Milwaukkee, Wisconsin, in 2001 and founded the Indian edition of The Word Among Us.
As Divine Word Missionaries in India celebrates the tenth year of publishing our family bible magazine, The Word Among Us, I trace its foundation to the spirit of Vatican II, the founding of the magazine in the United States, and my chance meeting with the editor.
In 1959, the newly elected Pope John XXIII announced his intention to convene the Second Vatican Council. The inspiration for the council came, Pope John said, as a revelation from the Holy Spirit, a sense he had in prayer that the Spirit wanted to bring a fresh wind of renewal upon the Church and the world. Over the forty-four years since the council ended, the winds of renewal have been blowing very powerfully. Parishes have seen a dramatic increase in prayer groups, in bible studies, in lay ministries, and in social and evangelistic outreaches.
In 1999, as I began my journalism studies at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Jeff Smith, the editor of the American edition of The Word Among Us. He was looking for someone to publish the magazine in India. Fortunately, our charism as Divine Word Missionaries was well suited for the ministry of The Word Among Us. From our founding days, Divine Word Missionaries have used magazines to spread the faith. In fact, our founder, St. Arnold Janssen, published The Little Messenger of the Sacred Heart. Upon my return to India, I was eager to get started, so I presented my plan to then provincial Father Chacko Thottumarickal SVD, who gave his full endorsement to the project.
If communications, especially the print medium, have an influence on shaping the faith and values in Christian families, then The Word Among Us addresses this need. It inspires readers to follow the daily Mass readings and to reflect on life through prayer, scripture, and the teachings of the Church. The articles are rich resources for an individual’s spiritual life and a benefit to families. The prayers in the magazine give a better road map and a deeper meaning to relationship with the Lord.
In the last ten years, we have improved in every area. The Word Among Us is printed in our own Satprachar Press in Indore. Our editorial and marketing teams are made up of persons deeply committed to helping people come closer to the Lord through prayer and scripture. We believe God is using our meager efforts to touch people’s lives. The magazine has helped us build up our missions in the interior villages of central India. Through the financial contributions of our readers and the advertisement in the magazine, we are able to support the education and settlement of orphans and poor children of the countryside.
To celebrate our tenth anniversary, we organized and hosted a bible mahotsav (convention) in the Indore province of Divine Word Missionaries. This celebration of the Word of God took place from October 1–3, 2010, on the campus of St. Paul’s High School. The festival began with a processional dance in which the Holy Bible was carried from the entrance gate to the dais. Former Divine Word provincial and now the Ordinary of the Diocese of Indore, Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal SVD delivered the keynote address to a gathering of eight thousand people from various states of central India. The bishop asked each person to give time to God, who is the driving force behind every living being.
The retreat directors inspired the audience to make their family lives stronger and become messengers of love and peace. “If the family is weak, then society is weak, and if the society is weak, the nation is weak,” said Fr. Anil Dev. Other talks delivered during the convention and the spiritual exercises sparked the divine flame in the gathering and the people experienced many spiritual blessings.
Thousands of bibles were made available during the convention and the entire crowd enjoyed the wonderful food and comfortable accommodations. Rosaries and T-shirts bearing the name of The Word Among Us were distributed to participants.
Archbishop Leo Cornelio SVD of the Diocese of Bhopal presided at the Eucharistic celebration on Sunday. Scores of priests, Brothers, sisters, and Catholic laity from all parts of Madhya Pradesh were present. The participation in the convention by different religious groups, castes, and people from all walks of life bore testimony to the religious harmony and friendly relations existing in the city of Indore.
As I look back, I feel very humbled. I know that the Holy Spirit is the true founder of The Word Among Us and is at the root of this ministry. We are all very grateful to have the opportunity and honor of serving the Lord in this way, and there are times when we feel overwhelmed by this responsibility. Now, as we look to the years ahead, we ask the Holy Spirit to remain with us and to keep blessing us with a deep outpouring of divine life and love.