Fr. Varghese Kalapurakudy

A country priest comes to Kakinada, finding joy with his people in Christ's Sacred Heart.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Farewell to Yeleswaram and Hello to America

With some friends at his May 5, 2014 farewell jubilee Mass
at Holy Family Mission in Yeleswaram, India. 
On May 5, 2014, Fr. Varghese Kalapurakudy celebrated his final Mass as pastor of Holy Family Mission in Yeleswaram, India. It was also his ordination anniversary, and his people honored him with wreaths, ceremonial shawls and cake, and crowded with him into dozens of photos.
A poster created nearly a decade ago celebrating Fr. 
Varghese's ordination to the priesthood.
Fr. then boarded a bus to Hyderabad and stepped on a plane for the first time ever, heading to America for a rest before taking on his new assignment at Sacred Heart Church in Kakinada.

Friends in the U.S. who had followed Fr.'s doings through word of mouth and blog posts via, finally met their missionary in person.

Fr. Varghese was greeted at the airport and handed a winter coat, since temperatures were at record lows across the Chicago area.  He shivered through the first weeks of May, as he celebrated Mass at Churches across the Joliet Diocese and Chicago Archdiocese.
Friends greet Fr. Varghese in Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
Fr. attended the West Suburban Homeschool Band concert to see his host family's sons play their trumpet ad trombone. Band director Karen Borow told the audience of their visitor from the East, and the crowd clapped and welcomed Fr. Varghese.

When the celebrant for the R.O.C.K. Homeschool Graduation Mass became sick and entered the hospital, Fr. Varghese stepped in to celebrate the event, handing a diploma to his host family's son Daniel, and to 14 other grade and high school graduates.
Fr. celebrated the R.O.C.K. Homeschool Graduation Mass
May 26, 2014.
Fr. Varghese also concelebrated Mass at St. Thomas Syro Malabar Cathedral, the only cathedral of this rite in the United States. There he met other Malayali from his home state of Kerala, India. 
St. Thomas Syro Malabar Cathedral in Bellwood, Illinois.

One of the priest's official reasons for visiting America was to meet the parents of his missionary friend Marianna, and to visit her 96-year-old father Joseph, who always eagerly followed Father's activities at his missions. Joseph entered Intensive Care with sepsis and a blood clot on the lung just as the missionary left India, but was able to greet his visitors with a smile just hours after Fr. Varghese arrived in the U.S. 
Visiting "Dad Joseph" in the hospital with Marianna, 
one of his friends and hosts in Chicago.
On his first tour of Chicago and Lake Shore Drive, Fr. enjoyed the sites, but then laid his head back for a nap, exhausted by his bus trip to Hyderabad Airport, 20-plus hour plane flight and all the events leading up to May -- Easter, trips to Hyderabad to finalize his VISA, his jubilee and last Mass celebration at Holy Family in Yeleswaram, and packing up for his new assignment at Sacred Heart Church in Kakinada upon his return.
His host family toured Fr. Varghese down Lake Shore Drive.

One of "Fr. V's" younger fans in America.
Concelebrating Mass at Visitation Church in Elmhurst, 
with Fr. Benjamin Chinnappan, Chaplain at Hines Veterans
Hospital outside of Chicago and head of a group 
that runs schools for the needy in the Indian state
of Tamil Nadu.
Fr. Varghese's vacation hinged on his daily Mass. 
Fr. Varghese processes after concelebrating an orchestral
Latin Mass at beautiful St. John Cantius Church in Chicago.
At the end of his trip to the Chicago area, Fr. was diagnosed with walking pneumonia. He was cleared for travel just two days before taking his Air India flight back to Hyderabad. He returned to temperatures more than 110-degrees F., spent a day on an un-air conditioned bus, and took up his new assignment in the industrial town of Kakinada, on India's southeast coast.

After one day unpacking, Fr. celebrated his first Sunday Mass at Sacred Heart Mission, honored by his new flock with flowers and shawls. In a letter to his friends back in America, he thanked them for the "love and caring" that helped make his trip so meaningful.

God blessed you in Yeleswaram, India and Chicago, Illinois in the U.S., Fr. Varghese, may you continue to be richly blessed and to inspire others at Sacred Heart in Kakinada.
The Marian priest in America.

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