My experience at Sint Kwinten’s is a memorable one. Sint Kwinten’s has an atmosphere of welcoming all. Nourished by vibrant liturgy, it is a spiritual home to many young people from different nationalities. Both as visitors and permanent members, the community has taken the ministry of hospitality as a priority.
Orientation days, students welcome party, beer tasting evenings, film nights, pizza gatherings, theology on tap, walks through the city, Oude Markt discussions, men’s meetings etc. testify to this fact. This international community is rich in diversity racially and ethnically, educationally, sociologically, and economically. The mantra that all the parishioners chant is “All are welcome!”
I always thought it is a place of beauty when it comes to the worship of God. “Beauty is everything!” Beauty, nonetheless, is a supremely important element in Christian worship of God. The beauty of worship especially when the sun rays fall right at the altar on a sunny Sunday morning at Sint Kwinten’s makes the worship so meaningful and uplifting.
I saw the community grow. Many babies were born, lots of young people met and got married. I saw the community grow from fifty to over one hundred and fifty members.
My journey from Belgium to India is thousands of miles in distance. But my journey from Sint Kwinten’s in Leuven to Resurrection Church in Mulapadu (Diocese of Vijayawada) is not that far. The only difference is language, culture, and the location. People in both the communities are warm, welcoming, and prayerful.
Resurrection Church is in an economically depressed and sociologically marginalized area. For the most part, the surrounding landscape consists of dry fields, chopped mountains, unkempt streets, and many single-family homes in various stages of despair. At the very least, I think it is fair to say that the area around our little parish church is drab and dingy. When I arrived at Resurrection Church in October 2022, the dilapidated building was blended in seamlessly dreary surroundings. The landscaping consisted of overgrown weeds and trash. It reminded me of “The Agony in the Garden”. The place looked abandoned, and, in fact, it was for the most part.
It did not take me long to figure out what I needed to do. I had no choice but to develop this little parish inside and out. Some friends tried to discourage me, arguing that it was not worth the effort. It needed a major facelift, and I was convinced that in time a restored Resurrection church would contribute to the lifting up of the surrounding community and the renewal of the faith of the people. This is, in fact, what is taking place.
This small little shrine will never rival the exquisite splendor of the great cathedrals, basilicas, and churches, but it is a humble little neighborhood shrine in the middle of its dismal and colorless surroundings – it shines with its own radiant splendor. The parishioners are so warm and welcoming, just like at Sint Kwinten’s. Lots of activities take place in this small parish. Besides Mass, we have Adoration, community, theology, service, various talks, and personal testimonies.
Coming from a youth ministry background, I always feel so inspired when I am working with young people, particularly with the poor dropout students of the parish, who actually gave me a sense of hope for the future. The widows and the vulnerable people in the parish challenge me to do something very concretely for them. I quickly noticed that these people need support, accompaniment, education, mentoring, and upliftment. Due to COVID, seventy-two dropout students on the streets, twenty-eight girls married off between age fourteen and eighteen, over sixty widows, and many jobless and homeless people disturb me. They challenge me when I give a homily, their eyes speak to me and urge me to care for them.
I appeal to the reader to pray for the betterment of their situation and for the development of our little shrine.
Fr. Don Bosco Darsi