Surprise in the Stacks
Working at the Maryknoll Mission Archives means you’re often surprised by what a collection contains. You never know what you may find in a box that has never been inventoried or explored in many years. Recently, I was sorting through some correspondence of Bishop James A. Walsh, and found a postcard in a language I’d never seen before. After a little research, I found out more about its author and its recipient. In July 1910, student Joseph Puduwa sent this postcard from the Papal Seminary in Kandy, Sri Lanka, to Joseph Panjikaren, a student at St. Joseph’s College in Tiruchirappalli, India. The message on the card is written in Tamil, which is the official language of Sri Lanka and is spoken by the Tamil people of Sri Lanka and India. It seems likely that Panjikaren sent the postcard to Bishop Walsh to show him an image of the Kandy Seminary.
I discovered that after his studies at St. Joseph’s College, Joseph Panjikaren became a priest of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, worked with clergy and laymen to advocate for the poor, worked for a Catholic newspaper, and founded the Medical Sisters of St. Joseph and Dharmagiri Hospital in Kerala, India. Based on this postcard and other correspondence Bishop Walsh received from dozens of priests missioned from India to Uganda to Japan, his vision for communication between missioners around the world was being realized even before Maryknoll’s founding.