In the early 19th Century, like every country and state, Kerala too was weighed down by the aftermaths of the World War, as predictable the social order was affected too. How? It was slowly yielding to moods of aggressive selfishness and unconcern for the underprivileged, the weak, the lonely, the sick, the deserted, and the oppressed and so on. They were being ignored; this silent majority could not even meet their basic needs. Contagious disease like Vasoori slayed so many. While people flood abandoning even their blood relatives for fear of the epidemics, St. Mariam Thresia with her three companions reached around to families and places; they took care of the sick and dying, they looked after the elderly neglected in their homes, as the apostle for the oppressed , underprivileged and the weaker sections of society, Thresia and her companions reached help to all. She did not consider the caste, community or religion but beheld the face of Christ in all, especially the needy.
Her love of God promoted her to undertake various measures to bring relief, consolation and support to the poor even in the face of many difficulties. Sr. Kochuthresia, her niece, recounts that Mother Mariam Thresia had to struggle “to bring help to the poor and sick and to give care and protection to the orphans. There were financial difficulties, which were overcome with the help of benefactors and well-wishers.” She trained her young niece or members of the congregation in the practice of the virtue of charity, by inculcating the spirit of sacrifice.
St. Mariam Thresia reached to the huts of the sick and suffering healing their body spirit at the same time. Mgr. Moothedan of the historical commission remarks: that “Her visits to the sick were widely appreciated by the public at large. She used to visit the victims of smallpox and cholera. She begged for help from the rich and gave the collections to the sick and poor, although she herself was poor.” An eyewitness account of one such heroic gesture of love is as follows.There was a Hindu prostitute who became a victim of smallpox. Mother Mariam Thresia brought her into the convent and nursed her. The woman died within hours and the child was brought up in the convent.
Historians of Mariam Thresia has recorded that she would walk miles, to help people dying in their homes. In those days the hospitals were primitive and far away in big towns only. It was often necessary to visit the homes of the dying at night, and she would go with her younger brother. It was the common saying then that no one in Puthenchira and in its surroundings have died without her prayer and assistance. Fr. Joseph Vithayathil has recorded that one Bl. Mother spoke to him saying “do you see now that is useful to send her to the homes of patients? so do not discourage her. Her people have objections against her going like this; you must tell them not to object.
The people of the locality had deep faith in her prayers. When they were in troubles with physical or mental ailments they approached her seeking her prayer and advice. Her spiritual father wrote: A women of a poor family in this parish had been laid up more than thirty years with paralysis of hands and legs. There was a deep wound on her leg, pus discharging from the wound. Everyone deserted her because of the strong stench. When Mariam Thresia came to know about this she went to her house nursed her every day until her death.
She sheltered the destitute and sick in her convent, took care of the poor and abandoned at her side. Mariam Thresia went to families of the sick and helped the needy with food collected from other people. Thresia wanted the people to have an equal status and privilege in the society and helped everyone equally. Her charitable deeds and dedicated efforts had changed the rigid minds to convert to goodness.
Mariam Thresia had no political or social clouts to work. She made the sincere effort with great devotion to the reach out to the suffering humanity. And she started her work from her own hometown. The Lord used her as the yeast for the great measures of flour to leaven it. With her short life of 50 years she made a significant place in the Church History especially in the Indian Church pioneering the apostolate for families.
Sr. Udaya Kallukaran Chf