This is a remarkable book and you will probably read all 39 pages of it at one sitting.
The author, Fr. Joseph Kalathil (Joe), is a Jesuit. He was a diocesan priest who was inspired to leave his native Kerala to work in the Punjab. After he joined the Society, Joe has worked in Jharkhand, Bihar and the Punjab – always with the poor.
The initial motivation to work for peace came from meeting a poor widow somewhere in the Punjab, who longed to cross the border to meet her family but couldn’t. Any attempt to contact her family would only invite harassment from the police and the security forces. This set Joe thinking: What if I make contact with ordinary Pakistani families, and promote peace and friendship? An impossible dream! But with the Lord’s help Joe went to Lahore not just once but three times!
But occasional visits were not what he had in mind. To promote peace and understanding, longer and more permanent contact was desirable. That’s how the letter writing campaign started. Joe encouraged Indian students to write to an “unknown friend” in Pakistan, and promised that on his next visit to Lahore, he would take these letters and bring back replies from young Pakistani boys and girls. Amazingly, he succeeded.
Along every step of the way, Joe describes how he had the tangible feeling of being helped and guided by God. His was no grand plan. No. They were just small steps taken, one at a time, often along a zigzag path, but leading to success beyond all telling.
Joe’s story is an inspiration. It reminds us of what Mother Teresa often said, “We don’t do great things. All we do is small things, but with great trust in God.”
- Title: LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN FRIEND
- Author: Joseph Kalathil, SJ
- Publication: Henry Martyn Institute, Hyderabad/ ISPCK, New Delhi, 2018.
- 39 pp. | No price listed.