The Brothers founded the priory Arul Ashram in Pondicherry, India, in February 1997 at the request of the local Archbishop. The initial intention was to create a contemplative male presence in the diocese and for the Brothers to accompany the students at the University of Pondicherry. Now the apostolic activities covered by the Brothers include catering for the spiritual needs of children and students, assisting with the formation of different religious congregations, running a centre for people with AIDS and welcoming people on retreats who wish to benefit from the silence of the Ashram.
The Shanthi Bhavan AIDS Centre is located on the same terrain as the Brothers’ priory. The initial idea was for it to be a place of welcome for men who were nearing the end of life, but it later started to welcome women and children as well. This led to the building of separate houses for the women and children, as well as houses for families. Following the constant growth in the number of children who are HIV Positive and orphaned in the area, a small school was set up that also serves as a formation and training workshop.
The Ashram’s capacity is already stretched and it needs to grow. In total – counting the Brothers, the students, the AIDS-sufferers, the sisters looking after them, foreign volunteers and local personnel – there are around 90 people living in this one space.