Activities of the Dharmapuri Diocese
1. Pastoral Work:
The Diocese of Dharmapuri witnessing the kingdom of God among its faithful and the people of good will till the present day engages in vast apostolic ventures. We give priorities to teaching catechism in parishes. We are also largely engaged in "Integral human development", such as education, health, women promotional activities, and other development projects.
At present there are 32 parishes, 2 mission stations, 1 Minor Seminary, 21 Religious Congregations in the Diocese. The total population of Dharmapuri Diocese is estimated about 28,82,385 and of which 53,044 (1.84%) are Catholics while the remaining are Hindus, Muslims and others.
Ecumenism is another pastoral priority of our Diocese and non-institutional ecumenism is increasingly in use and is very much fruitful between our non-catholic brethren and us. This is manifested especially on the occasions of some festivities and funerals.
The pastoral activities are largely implemented by the Diocesan clergy and by different religious congregations that are active in the Diocese. All schools that are under Diocesan administration teach catechism which is another successful way we can reach children of other denominations in our pastoral work. There are different informal ways where we try to mediate the Good News to our own faithful and people of good will.
Major activities carried out so far in pastoral programs are as follows:
The pastoral coordinating office is on the process of being structured in order to facilitate pastoral strategies after studying Diocesan pastoral priorities. There have been activities going on separately in the whole Diocese with coordination. Much depended on the concern and private initiative of Parish Priests.
2. Social Service Activities:
Social Service Activities were the main source of strength for the Catholics when compared to the other religious groups in this region. We always help the poorest of the poor. We try to reach people in need where the Government and other NGO's can't reach them. We help the destitute in the following ways:
We have 8 dispensaries in our Diocese where the poor people are constantly being helped and cared for their basic medical needs.
Apart from the dispensaries we do take care of the poor people in our Catholic run hospitals. We have 5 Hospitals in our diocese.
The Boardings are run for the students who are from the below average income families, where the money is collected from the students only for the food and the fee for their stay, electricity and books are taken care by the Diocese fund. We have 4 boardings in our Diocese.
We take total care of hundreds of orphan boys and girls. We have 8 orphanages in our Diocese.
The hostels were started keeping in mind of the average income families. Presently we have 7 Hostels in our Diocese. Here the students are asked to pay for the general expenses which they make in common. Where the fee is collected as per the total expenses accured with the number of students staying in the hostel.
f. Social Work Centre
These Social Work Centres are purely meant for the Women Promotional activities, where these women are taught weaving, Tailoring, and Embroidering. We have presently these types of Social Work Centres at 3 places.
3. Educational Activities:
Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Dharmapuri:
Illiteracy is very prevalent in the diocese of Dharmapuri. Illiteracy causes a legion of evils in the society like alchoholism, female infanticide, dowry system, casteism, etc. These prevalent evils are mostly among the marginalized, economically backward and downtrodden communities who form the majority of the population of Dharmapuri district. Hence, the primary concern of this diocese was and is to eradicate illiteracy. Therefore, all the efforts and finance was mainstreamed to establish schools and boardings in the diocese.
The Catholic schools in the Diocese are providing an invaluable service to the people and majority of them are in remote rural areas. Without the existence of these schools the children from these villages, who are among the poorest families of the region, would not be able to attend primary schools. Education is taken by the Catholic Church as an essential social service to overcome the various challenges of development faced to the people of the Diocese. Currently, there is acute shortage of fund to run Catholic Schools. Fund for Catholic Schools come from sources like tuition fees, contributions from farmers working on cash for work activities, community funds of congregations of religious and private donations from individuals.
Expected Expenditure for each student:
Self-financed Schools = 32 schools of the total of 52, i.e., 61%
The government, though recognizes the services, does not support us towards establishment of constructions, maintenance, development, payment towards the staff, etc. Most of the students are hailing from rural areas. They are the children of poor, unlettered parents who earn daily wages from working in the fields and forest areas. They prefer to employ their children in the fields to send them to schools. They are unable to contribute much towards their education. The diocese with great difficulty supports them at present. The education will give a status for the children in the society. They will be employed in the governmental and non-governmental organizations. Their earnings will boost their life standards, especially the educated girls will stand on their own legs. Thus dowry system, casteism, female infanticide will be eradicated in due course.