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Does being closely associated with Catholic church earn one to be a godfather?

By Jay Ihsan 

It is time Christians get serious about the Biblical phrases and quotes. When a seminary self-righteously displays the phrase "My sheep hear my voice: I know them and they follow me" but fails miserably in caring for the voiceless under their care, one is left wondering where does hypocrisy end and rhetorics begin for the Catholic church?
The seminary in question is called the Good Shepherd Catholic Seminary (GSCS) in Malacca, Malaysia. The sprawling premises used to be home to several dogs which were finally reduced to two.
With the seminary administrator being replaced from time to time, the fate of the dogs too became uncertain. Whilst the previous administrator or clerk loved and cared for the two dogs, the same cannot be said of the present caretaker, Patricia Lopez. Barely months after the St. Peter's Church (SPC), built in 1710, the oldest functioning Roman catholic church in Malacca, hired her as the administrator, one of the dogs, May, died.
Was neglect a case? I would not rule it out considering how I ended up making frantic calls to the seminary to get the two dogs back inside on days they would sneak out of the premises without the administrator being the least concerned that they were missing or had not eaten dinner.
Alarmed by the repeated mistreatment, I contacted St Peter's Church parish priest Lionel Thomas bemoaning the lack of care afforded May and Jackson. Did matters improve? On the contrary. As the administrator works on a 9am to 5pm routine, May and Jackson were virtually forgotten as Patricia excitedly drove out of the seminary.
It is now the monsoon season in Malaysia and for the most insane reason, the one surviving dog, a German Shepherd, is conveniently abandoned in the backyard all day long for days on end. Come rain or shine, the dog named Jackson sits curled up without a soul coming around to check on him.
Tears well up in my eyes as I watch Jackson yelp whenever the heavy thunderous rain scares him. His cries fall on deaf ears and so Jackson walks back to the corner and rolls up in the face of yet another chilly night as I witness his state from the balcony of my apartment.
Neither Lionel, Patricia or even the Infant Jesus Sisters (IJS) nuns who neighbour the seminary were ever moved by May and Jackson’s plight. It is baffling that a faith which rants about sheeps and animals has in real time no respect, love and compassion for the voiceless.
Whilst Sister Santhamary Ganapragasam gave the indifferent shrug when I ran to her for help to get May and Jackson back inside one late evening, the IJS house/residence animator Sister Stephanie Samy whom I twice pleaded for help was unconcerned.
Would Sister Stephanie ignore someone who turns up at the IJS doorstep because the former believes non-Catholics have no right to “cross boundaries” and show care or concern? Why the urgent eagerness to project IJS nuns as holier-than-thou when reality speaks otherwise?
As I write this article on a Sunday evening, Jackson is once again left to face the merciless cold wind.
Given the IJS nuns’, Lionel and Patricia’s disregard for Jackson’s welfare, should I stay sanguine? With May dead, I am not sure.
Still, I went ahead and lodged a police report against St Peter's Church and Patricia Lopez on the abuse and neglect meted out to Jackson, hoping this would help save the dog's life.

“Doing God’s work” rings hollow

Should Lionel and Patricia continue to dismiss Jackson's well-being, it is common sense that the St Peter's Church and Good Shepherd Catholic Seminary be blacklisted from keeping pets in their premises.
As for the IJS nuns’, they could have, had they wanted to, display compassion towards May and Jackson. Sister Stephanie once said: “I have given my life to God to serve. I see everybody as God’s children.”
Yet, when push comes to shove, Sister Stephanie and her nuns fall short of living up to the “given my life to God to serve” and “God’s children” proclamation.
Would these IJS nuns rush to lift a finger if it was a VIP at their doorstep requesting help instead?
If “doing God’s work” is the only mantra that gives Christianity the much needed edge to stay alive, why then does the neglect facing Jackson not concern the nuns, Church and clergy?
It is baffling how those “who have given their life to God to serve” are averse to the cries of a kitten trapped in the drain outside their house and continue to enjoy their morning 3in1 coffee and cream crackers with no care for the kitten’s well-being?
For now, it is the pagan celebration Christmas that has left the church, IJS nuns and seminary excited. A December 14 get- together party at the IJS house kept the nuns engrossed, while Jackson goes on to spend nights alone in the backyard braving the cold.
Several churchgoers when shown pictures of Jackson left unsupervised in the backyard for days on end agreed it was a case of cruelty to animal and neglect.
"The dogs are not loved and taken care as before, like that Indian aunty used to take care with love, very responsible," one of them lamented.
I can vouch for that as the previous administrator would be up feeding the dogs between 5.30am and 6am everyday, the same time when I would step out to feed the street cats in the neighbourhood.

Good Shepherd Seminary no longer fit to care for dogs

Now, with Patricia in charge of the seminary, Jackson is fed whenever she arrives for work, which means he is at her mercy in more ways than one.
What remains a “mystery” is why must Jackson be left unattended at the seminary? And why does Patricia not have a care in the world for him and leaves him abandoned at a spot where no one knows of his existence?
Too many questions come to mind – why did Lionel allow Jackson to be cared for by an administrator who does not have the dog’s best interest at heart? Was it cronyism that led to the hiring of this administrator by St Peter’s Church?
When I once asked Patricia whether Jackson was alright sitting on the cold floor one rainy day, she replied “yes, he is very comfortable”.
My complaint to St Peter’s Church in July 2002 had Patricia texting me this:
“Dear Sr, I am Patricia and I work in Good Shepherd Seminary. I called you this am but you were busy and could not talk. I must let you know that the dogs in GSS are very well fed (I cook for them everyday). They are very well taken care of too. If there is any problem, would appreciate if you could please let me as I am taking care of GSS.”
When problems are relayed to Patricia, she too turns a deaf ear. Why? Did she regret sending the lengthy text, not knowing the complainant- recipient is a journalist?
Still, it begs the question whether being closely associated with the Catholic church earns one a “godfather”, one who is a law unto himself?
Jackson does not look fit and healthy. Nor do I see him walking in the seminary garden. Is this Patricia’s idea of “very well taken care off’?
The compound of St Peter’s Church is equally spacious. Why does the parish priest Lionel refuse to look after Jackson there knowing that Patricia is not up to mark in caring for the dog?
Is looking after a senior dog a burden for St Peter’s Church and the seminary? Will Jackson’s death be a relieve for the nuns, Lionel and Patricia?
Honestly, going by the Catholic church, be it St Peter's or St Francis Xavier Church’s clergy and nuns insensitivity to people and animals, it leaves conscientious churchgoers wondering whether ‘means justifying the end” ie. pay check is the only agenda keeping the church and clergy preoccupied as Christians and Catholic?

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