Thrilled by an inspirational message from one of the Redemptorist Fathers, we, the leaders of The Legion of Mary, Oliver Dooland and I, decided to visit the Central Leprosarium on Magadi Road on Good Friday of 1971. The first patients we met were all praise for us standing so close to them and talking to them when they had been deserted by their own wives after suffering from leprosy. It was an encounter.
These patients originated from several Bangalore slums: Magadi Rd., Sheshadripuram, East Station, Tilak Nagar, etc. We visited them in the slums where we met with similar interest among others: Brother Christudoss, a St. Peter's Seminary Holy Cross brother, a few sisters from the organization of Mother Teresa, and a certain Ms. Chris Saddler, a Britisher. There were days when I would join other friends in the colony after a hard day's work, and lay my head over a thin mat on the damp ground .... I first understood what Communion is. I used to whisper in prayer in the wee hours of the early dawn "Lord, is there any place for them to grow more human?"
I reported back to His Grace Arokiaswamy, after attending the All India Leprosy Congress in Baroda. He brought along with one medical student, Fr., Dr. Marshall, professor of dermatology at St. John's Medical College; Fr Antonio Salafia Michelangelo, P. Mario de los Fathers de Montfort, Mother Marguritte (SJT). Research was under way to run clinics in different slums for the patients.
Mr. J.C. Lynn, (later Chief Secretary of the Karnataka Government) instituted a token of financial assistance from the Beggar's Relief Fund for any patient with leprosy who should stop begging. A sign of hope and confidence which the Government has extended. The Government asked us in May 1976 to set up a Leprosarium and offered land for the same.
The archbishop asked me to assist in drafting an appeal to Mother Teresa to assume this task. Providence had other plans ... Mother Teresa lamented her incompetence. We just said "fiat" (we accept) to the government without any plan, no project and no set-up funds.
Pope Francis Michael came with the first gift of Rs. 1 Lakh from the Servants of the Holy Spirit. The ministry of Faith began. The St. Joseph 's Sisters of Tarbes moved in to live in Sumanahalli. This was followed by the Mary Immaculate Franciscan sisters. The Church's Daughters and the Daughters of Wisdom also joined the program SET (Survey, Education & Treatment).
The Sheshadripuram patients moved into Sumanahalli with houses built. Mr. Bonnie Mascarenhas joined as Technical Consultant. Mr Michelangelo has taken over the Treasurer portfolio. Mr. The rehabilitation activities began at Mary Mascaren. Volunteers from far and wide have begun trickling in. The rest is history.