On February 6th 1805 a child was born to Kuriakose and Mariam in the Chavra family. Apart from God no one knew at that time that he was born to change the face of Kerala in the 19th Century. The life of Fr Chavra forces us to think about the impact family has on one’s life. In this age and time where family life is losing its value, the Chavra family is a shining star for all of us. Fr. Chavra learned the prayers and the devotion to Mother Mary at infancy itself. When a child sees his mother staying up the entire night praying, it is no wonder he goes on to become a man of prayers. Aren’t the children of today deprived of this upbringing? The children are shielded from all elements and brought up without any exposure to prayer life. Do we realize that this kind of upbringing is depriving the world of people like Chavra? When there is no role model in the family the children become orphans. The children grow up deprived of a spiritual and prayerful upbringing as they are brought up without any sacraments.
Fr. Chavra’s spiritual upbringing as a child was the foundation for him to lead a life of honesty and integrity. People with such qualities are sure to achieve great heights in their lives. When we consider, do not steal, do not copy in exams and do not tell lies as laws or commandments we often find it difficult to abide by. We should be like Fr. Chavra able to see it as a reminder of God’s love for us. As a parent we should be able to teach this to our children. The realization that when we try to cheat others of few thousand rupees, its loss may be thousand times higher. Because with God anything is possible. To ensure that we do not undergo such losses in our lives, these commandments serve as a reminder from God. And that is why Fr. Chavra could unhesitatingly say that he had not stained the white clothes he draped at the time of baptism.
The growing up years of Fr. Chavra should be an inspiration to all of us. His humility and respect for his parents and teachers became a strong foundation for his growing years. His life goes on to prove that we can achieve success in life only by the grace of God. It was not surprising that with such a sound spiritual upbringing Fr. Chavra found himself joining the seminary and was ordained as a priest.
He had to go through difficult times like Job in the Old Testament that he lost his parents and siblings to an epidemic. But this did not waver his faith rather these experiences made his faith stronger.
Fr. Chavra’s achievement in the field of education is more than what someone could do in one life time. He revolutionized the field of education and spearheaded the project of bringing education to the poor and the outcast of the society, thus braving the social norms of those days. He was instrumental in introducing free books and midday meals to the poor students. As Vicar General he ensured that all the churches started a school within its compound to cater to the socially and economically backward classes.
He was able to achieve a lot in his life time and the many books written by him has become a reference point for the church and its congregation. Let his life and his achievements be limited not only to the schools and printed books but go on to become an inspiration to the whole world.
Fr. Antony Parakkadavil