It was inaugurated in the Archdiocese of Pondicherry-Cuddalore, in the Church of Our Lady of Periyanayagi, where the Virgin is invoked for the birth of babies. The rector, Fr. Zackarias: “The Church must be the first to take care of women and set an example for Indian civil society.”
Konakuppam () – For the first time in Tamil Nadu, a sanctuary has opened a lactation room, where mothers can breastfeed their babies in a comfortable, practical and private way, without giving up participating in the liturgy. This takes place at the Shrine of Our Lady of Periyanayagi, a church with more than 300 years of history, located in a small village called Konankuppam, in the Archdiocese of Pondicherry-Cuddalore, near Ulundurpettai.
The church was built by the Italian Jesuit missionary Fr. Giuseppe Costantino Beschi, who also wrote the well-known Tamil epic Thembavani in Konankuppam. The church welcomes millions of pilgrims every year and the annual festival is held from January 14 to 23. The 8.30am Sunday mass is celebrated in sign language for children with hearing impairments as there is an upper secondary school for these special children.
The special room for mothers with children was launched by Elizabeth, a mother of nine, and Chinnamma, who has eight. “We have to make our churches not only a place of worship, but also a place where we can find peace and happiness,” says Jesuit Fr. Jayaseelan, who exercises his ministry in the parish. “Before, I saw mothers come to church with their babies, and most of the time it was difficult for them to breastfeed their children because they did not have privacy. Thinking of Our Lady of Periyanayagi being invoked for the birth of babies, she became I came up with this idea. “We will decorate the room so that the children can be comfortable in there,” he told Father Devasagayaraj Zackarias, rector and parish priest of the sanctuary. “Even today there are churches without sanitary facilities, with barriers for people with disabilities. We must be available to everyone at all times.”
“I was surprised that some men thanked us for the new provisions,” continued Fr. Zackarias. “He I was glad that they also care equally about the facilities for women. Society is increasingly concerned with the dignity and honor of women. The Church should be the first to take care of women. Pope Francis always insists on the need not only to give space, but also to share responsibility with women and to show it with actions. I am sure that the Indian Church will be a pioneer in setting an example to civil society in respecting women.”