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Messages from the Rest of World

  • Dear Friends/Family, I would like to share a contribution page with you which has been created in the $bookTitle$ book. To view the page please click on the following link: $findContributionLink$ Online Book for Brother James Kimpton https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/Kimpton/Contributions/Find/RestofWorld0/davidnichollshonorarylifememberoxfordscribes
    https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/Kimpton/Contributions/Find/RestofWorld0/davidnichollshonorarylifememberoxfordscribes

    David Nicholls, Honorary Life Member, Oxford Scribes

    UK | 5 Jun 2018

     

    In my role as workshop organiser for Oxford Scribes from 1984 to 1997 I came into contact with many interesting people, and one of the most interesting was a monk called Brother James Kimpton who lived in South India. Sometime in the mid 1980’s, in the very early days of Oxford Scribes, I received a letter from him out of the blue addressed to the University Museum (where I worked for 19 years as an illustrator). He told me that he was the founder of an organisation called Reaching the Unreached which looked after orphaned children in isolated villages in a remote area of Tamil Nadu, a region of South India. He had obtained my address from a copy of the Oxford Scribes newsletter that he had somehow acquired and was asking my advice on gilding. It seems that in his free time he was making decorative manuscripts commemorating various local events. He was a keen calligrapher and for a few years we exchanged letters every month or so (there was no email in those days!) discussing various aspects of the craft. In one of the letters he included a photograph of himself. In this photograph he was holding a short length of string in his right hand with a small object dangling on the end of it. In my next letter I enquired as to what it was. A month or two later, his reply informed me that he was a water diviner and he used a pendulum to locate wells for the villages in this arid region of South India. I wrote back expressing scepticism, but he assured me that during his time in India he had located over two hundred wells (this turned out to be something of an underestimate!). Many years passed, and one weekend I was teaching calligraphy at Missenden Abbey in Buckinghamshire. I was sitting in the dining room talking to the other tutors and discovered that one of them was doing a course on water divining. I related to her my story about Brother James. She left the table and came back five minutes later clutching a copy of the magazine of the British Society of Dowsers. On the front cover was a picture of Brother James, and there was a long article about him inside! Not only that, it was the very same picture of him holding his pendulum that he had sent to me all those years ago! Recent Internet research tells me that during his 65 years living and working in India, he located 2,400 wells, as well as building 8,700 houses! He continued to work well into his eighties and when he died more than 100,000 villagers came from all over Tamil Nadu to pay their respects. At the time I was in contact with him I had no idea I had been corresponding with such an amazing man, and learning this makes me feel very humble. David Nicholls (Honorary Life Member, Oxford Scribes)

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Messages from the Rest of World

  • Dear Friends/Family, I would like to share a contribution page with you which has been created in the $bookTitle$ book. To view the page please click on the following link: $findContributionLink$ Online Book for Brother James Kimpton https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/Kimpton/Contributions/Find/RestofWorld0/frpeterbowedouaiabbey1
    https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/Kimpton/Contributions/Find/RestofWorld0/frpeterbowedouaiabbey1

    Fr Peter Bowe, Douai Abbey

    UK | 3 Jul 2018

     

    I am delighted that our Woolhampton parish in Berkshire has chosen to support RTU India for three years as part of their parish social outreach. On the back of some very enthusiastic parishioners, among them a Tamil wife and her husband, I find myself as parish priest now re-connecting after some 35 years with this imaginative venture of Br James Kimpton. I first visited him on my Indian “Pilgrimage” as a young Benedictine monk and teacher. Here is an extract from my diary of that wonderfully stimulating year which surpassed all my hopes and imagining. Christmas 1982 I’m at Boys village in Genguvarpatti, near Madurai in Tamil Nadu. Last Monday Br James welcomed me here for Christmas with his usual shy warmth; it means that they can have Christmas Mass, which makes a lot of difference. Fr Bede Griffiths, at his ashram of Shantivanam near Kulittalai, where I am currently staying in order to get my Indian feet for this year of new spiritual experience, has encouraged me to make the three hours bus journey to visit his Boys’ Village. I find I am leaning more and more about the work Br James, this indomitable English De la Salle brother, is doing and the conditions of the very poor in this part of India. Today is Christmas Eve and about half the boys have chosen to go home for a week’s break. Some of them will hardly eat at all, some will not be welcome when they just turn up at a nearest relative, having now no close family, and will not have a happy time. But they want and need a change, so they choose to take this holiday. I am slowly discovering what an enlightened Boys’ “village” this is, and how special is Br James. He is the ideal mix of quiet and undemonstrative compassion combined with severely practical management skills and a genius for appropriate, human-scale technology. What simple lives his boys lead, how content they are having almost nothing – sleeping on the floor, no shoes, very few clothes and possessions. And how overjoyed they are when they receive a gift! It was illustrated by last night’s Christmas party which was a riot, each one receiving a gift that he himself had chosen – chappels (fip-flops) or a shirt or a plastic soap-box etc. Even though the gifts are so simple, how happy these children are at all times, how naturally devout, and yet how like they are to western boys too. They are mainly now supported by our UK charity, Action Aid, and also by charities in Germany, France, Denmark and Australia. The extent of the problem of stray children is vast in India. So, as in the nearby city of Madurai, many have simply left home because their parents don’t want them or cannot care for them. They have been just dumped, often at the railway station or the bus station. They may have been beaten at home, or their parents may have died in great poverty. They are just left to fend for themselves Yet not all the children’s homes are like that of Br James. In one I heard of not far away, where they had but one blanket between five boys, 85% regularly failed to return after a holiday. Br James’s lucky boys are but a drop in the ocean. Christmas Eve Mass was a wonderful occasion. The majority of boys, seated cross-legged on the ground around me, were of course not Christians, but they too took real part in following the Mass – and in responding to my hastily acquired few words of Tamil and in praying devoutly! I have never celebrated before a Christmas such as this, with such abundant joy and devotion! Gloria in excelsis Deo! Father Peter Bowe, from Douai Abbey and parish priest at Woolhampton

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