Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hindus join thousands grieving for German nun

Some 20,000 people, hundreds of them Hindus, joined the funeral services of a German missioner nun, who worked for orphans in Kerala, southern India.
Sister Willigard Kultz, known as the “mother of orphans,” was buried May 9 in Kannur district. The 79-year-old nun died of cancer.
“Truly she was the mother of orphans. She dramatically changed the lives of poor people around her,” said Father Devassy Earathara, vicar general of Kannur diocese.
Sister Kultz once headed her Deena Sevan Sabha (servants of the poor) congregation, based in the diocese’s Pattuvam parish.
Bishop Varghese Chakkalakal of Kannur led the funeral ceremonies. The nun’s body, following her last wish, was buried in a cemetery where hundreds of orphan children are buried.
“She was amma [mother] to everybody,” Sita Koyileri, a Hindu woman, who lives near the convent, where the late nun stayed for 13 years, told UCA News. “She was full of love and compassion. She loved us like her own children.”
Sister Kultz managed the congregation after its founder Mother Petra’s death in 1975, according to Sister Barthalomia, the late nun’s companion.
Sister Barthalomia told UCA News that the late nun was born May 26, 1931, in Germany, where she joined a Franciscan convent in 1952, aiming to be a missioner in Africa. While serving as a nurse in a hospital in Germany, she met Mother Petra, which led her to join the Kerala-based congregation in 1975.
She was instrumental in starting several homes for orphans, the elderly, people with leprosy, and mentally and physically disabled people.
Jose Thankappan, who left his Hindu faith to became a Catholic, said “everyone here” sought the nun’s “advice, prayers, consolation and help. She made tremendous contributions toward building the Church in Kannur along with other great missioners. We owe them greatly.”
As an expression of love, groups of people raised banners and boards on public roads bidding her farewell.
“We loved her so much because she cared for us so much,” said Sunil Mekkat, driver of a three-wheeled auto-rickshaw.

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