Part 2 : What kind of work / ministry do you do?
Interview with Ms. Thresiamma Mathew, a member of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate (OMMI), a Secular Institute.
(The transcript has been edited for clarity.)
eVocation: What kind of jobs or ministry do members of Secular Institutes do?
For example, in Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate – my Secular Institute – there are some who are working as post-women or post-mistresses, in post offices. Some who are working as government-level health educators or health staff in the Ministry of Health. Then there are others who are teachers, working in government schools, preferably, but also in private schools. Then some are serving as hostel wardens, working as social workers, especially in the tribal settings in very poor economic situations, and also in the domestic workers’ movement as leaders in the domestic workers’ movement, etc.
It is my own conscience and commitment to my Lord.
eV : And what about your work? What do you do?
I am working in a very different scenario. That is – I’m bringing women into non-traditional livelihood skills, which are usually denied to women. Mostly men are the masters of such skills. Since more than 30 years, I have launched a program for up-skilling women, especially in the construction sector. Imagine, in the construction sector, women are never known as masons, or never as carpenters, never as electricians, never as plumbers, etc.
And here I have thousands of women I have trained and employed in the field of construction, as masons, carpenters, etc. And our own training center of about 5000 square feet is constructed by women! The whole construction was done by women masons. So this was… is a kind of revolutionary intervention in the society.
And this depicts also one thing. We are – secular institutes in general – for women’s dignity, women’s freedom and women’s autonomy. So these are very important in a secular, consecrated life because we have to make our choices each time by ourselves; with whom we should stand. We remind ourselves often… it is I… my choice to commit myself to Christ. So, it’s not the superior or it’s not the presence of another companion who curbs me or curtails me or guides me. It is my own conscience and commitment to my Lord.
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Ms. Thresiamma has been a member of OMMI since 1968.
She is the Founder and Director of the Archana Women’s Centre (AWC) in Ettumanoor, Kottayam, Kerala. Ms. Thresiamma gave leadership to the creation of JEEWOMS, the first ever association formed for and by women masons.
AWC continues the work (for over 18 years) in empowering women and ensuring women’s rights. AWC works in Skill Development (primarily in non-conventional skills), Women Empowerment, Community Action and Entrepreneurship Development.
Ms. Thresiamma has won numerous awards for her work with women, which can be seen at www.archanawomencentre.org
Thank you for answering this unique call! 🙂