Pictured above are the Franciscan Family Board of Directors in India being visited by members of the American Board.
Franciscan Family Board of Directors in India
His Excellency Rt. Rev. Dr. Stephen Athipozhiyil, Bishop of Alleppey
Rev. Fr. Sebatian Aroujo
Rev. Fr. James Anaparambil
Rev. Fr. Yesudas Kattunkalthayil
Mr. P.K. Mathew
Mrs. Kunjannam Andrews
Mrs. Marykutty Babu
Mrs. Mary Geetha Leon
The Board of Directors of any organization is its governing body responsible for policy. Because the Franciscan Family Apostolate is involved internationally it is important to note that the Board of Directors in the United States is a separate legal entity from the Franciscan Family Apostolate Board of Directors in India. Consequently it is very important that both Boards are working on the same page.
Happily, since it’s incorporation as a 501(c)3 charitable organization in 1987 the relationship between the two boards has been seamless. Both boards are firm believers in the non-discriminatory policy of assisting all who apply for assistance regardless of religious sensitivities. Chaired by the Bishop of Alleppey, the Indian board consists of three priests and five lay persons. Of the five laypersons three are women, emphasizing the importance of the role of women in the Apostolate. Experience has shown the most responsible person keeping the family together among the families we assist are women. In all the spheres of life such as practical day to day living, financial responsibilities, and spiritual maturity, they can be counted on to put the family first.
The Franciscan Family Apostolate is considered one of the most important social justice works in the diocese of Alleppey. It is listed in the website of the diocese as an institution ranking second to other institutions in the number of families it actively assists. This is only because of the generosity of its sponsors and the hard footwork of our staff who daily walk the dirt paths leading to homes of the poor. The importance of the Franciscan Family Apostolate to the Board in India can best be seen in the words of Father James Anaparambil, recently appointed Vicar General and whose family was one of the first assisted in Alleppey. He writes the following:
“The first thought that wells up in my heart is gratitude as I recall my association to the Franciscan Family Apostolate (FFA) which started back in ‘80s when I had just entered the diocesan seminary in Alleppey. The burse for my studies in the seminary and support for my ailing mother came from FFA, USA. Ms. Mary Schubert. our sponsor, continued her support for my mother even many years after my Ordination. The founder, Alan Ouimet, and I have maintained a heart to heart relationship over decades. We met here and on number of occasions in Rome when Alan had a lay-over in Rome and I was upgrading ecclesiastical studies in Rome. Our conversation would delve on all matters of interest, ecclesial and civil, but in the end it would rally on how to live the simplicity and joy of the Gospel in our times. Alan always convinced me that concern and love for the poor is a gift of God and a giver is always a beneficiary of joy and peace from God.
It is over a decade I have been associating to FFA, Alleppey as its board member. The saga of the helping hands reaching out to the needy through the various programs of FFA, uninterruptedly all these years is a matter of pride, joy and above all a humbling and graceful experience of knowing that LORD prepares the table for His people ingeniously by awakening and filling them with compassion to the plight of the poor. Secure housing, health care, opportunities to master a profession for living with dignity, marriage support for girls, etc., are compassion translated into action. The smile and confidence in those families and children which I see whenever I meet the FFA beneficiaries are proofs that God too is happy with FFA.
For me, FFA is joyful response to the LORD’s invitation to remember always the poor. The poor are with us always as friends and presence of God. Charity bonds us with God and people. The needs of the world will never be met with the best of rules alone. It is compassion and concern, the true gifts of God, what matters. Compassion enriches both the donor and receiver.”