The institute chapel has just turned 6 years old, but the prayer tradition and the bonding between its people runs deep.
It wouldn’t be hard for you to find your way to the Insti Chapel on Sunday mornings once you get close to the football field – the sound of the chapel choir would guide you right to a building nestled between the BT department and the JEE/GATE office. Although the chapel has a prayer Mass and activities on every day of the week, the Mass on November 1st was slightly different. The campus Catholic community celebrated the sixth year since the inauguration of the chapel building – the small prayer hall was decorated with flowers, balloons and curtains, all in a shade of maroon; the choir was singing in seven different languages including an East Timoric language (called Tetum), and the gathering comprised students, faculty, alumni and (restless) kids.
After the prayers were said and the Holy Communion observed, members present at the Mass recounted the history of the chapel and their association with it. The history of the Catholic community gatherings on campus dates back to 1984 when Professor Kuriakose from the Department of Chemistry graciously offered his house for the Sunday prayers. Back then, the dinner table would be converted to the altar required for the prayers. This tradition was continued by Professor Job Kurien from the Aerospace department until after a while, the prayers were shifted to the NSS office and finally in 2009, to the chapel.
“The song ended, but the melody goes on” says Kiran chettan, an insti alumnus, describing his experience with Genesis, the name that the chapel community has given itself. Dr. Benny Raphael, an Associate Professor in the Civil Engineering Department who has been associated with Genesis since his B.Tech days in 1986, was also present. He remarked that he visits the chapel almost every day and attends the Rosary and Mass. On Sundays, he usually visits the Church outside the campus because of his children’s catechism but makes it a point to come on Sunday for special occasions like these. He feels that going to the insti chapel is very different from a regular church visit in terms of meeting people with similar backgrounds and being able to forge stronger friendships on the grounds of this familiarity. The freshies, who had been introduced to the community through the Freshie Mass that had been held earlier in the semester, were asked to narrate their experience with the community.
Another highlight of the program was the financial statement presentation. Amala, a fifth-year HS student, spoke about the donations raised from faculty, alumni and students.Interestingly, the sum raised from students was the largest. The expenditure was listed down from chapel activities ranging from celebrating birthdays of members or financing trips to other catholic places to the purchase of regular supplies for the chapel.\
Later on, while talking to us, Geo Davis (a Ph.D scholar) and Amala spoke about the strong bonds among the members of the chapel community. They noted that the chapel group is unlike most other student groups where you have responsibilities to tackle, and people to compete against. As people come to chapel to pray, there is so much more sense of companionship. Geo added that they have an activity called “intercession prayers”, where people write down their wishes anonymously, jumble them up, and pray for somebody else’s intention. He says that greetings like “Thanks chettan, for praying for me”, leave him feeling proud at the end of the activity. Amala added that because of the inherent feeling of togetherness and the bond that has been thus formed, they do not hesitate one bit to go out of the way to help one another and to just be there for each other. Geo enthusiastically added that the members consider themselves to be a family and whenever any of them goes back home, they miss the atmosphere and the ambiance that the chapel and the community as a whole exudes.
Next, we were introduced to Father Jino, the resident priest of the chapel. Father Jino is a man who is visibly
respected and loved. Father Jino, also from Kerala, had studied to be a priest and had been trained in the necessary fields of theology and philosophy. After his studies, he practised priesthood for a period of time in Kerala itself and was graciously offered an option of continuing his studies. He went on to pursue management studies. He is currently a Ph.D. scholar in the department of Management Studies and has been a part of the community ever since he came to the institute in 2012. The reason he chose this department is his keen interest in human resources. He states that human resources, contrary to popular belief, do not have to be restricted to an organization or a firm per se, but can be used in other areas such as education and pastoral avenues. He strongly associates with the community and is only happy to give back whatever he can to help the community as a whole.
An interesting observation that we made was the diversity among the members of the chapel. Though largely a Malayali crowd, there are members from various parts of the country such as Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. For this reason, the Mass and the prayer meetings are conducted in English.
The enthusiasm and the love of the members for the community and for each other is what makes them so unique and extraordinary. They are immensely warm and welcoming and this truly sets them apart.