Fr. Varghese Kalapurakudy

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Feast of St. Anne

"Holy St. Ann, Pray for Us..."

Fr. Varghese Kalapurakudy celebrated a special feast day Mass honoring St. Anne, with other missionaries from the Archdiocese of Visakhapatnam, at St. Anne's Church in Mandapeta, India.

Fr. Varghese (middle and below) and fellow missionaries
share a feast day meal after Mass.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Missions are hubs of renewal

Missions are exciting places, because people of all ages and vocations gather to worship, learn and refresh their spirits. 

Children experience terrace-top catechism with Missionaries of Charity atop Sacred Heart of Jesus Mission in Kakinada, India.

One young student gives her fellow classmate a helping hand 
in learning the sign of the cross.

Several classes meet at once atop the mission roof, because space is at a premium at Sacred Heart. The Mission's multi-purpose hall serves as church, priest residence and schoolroom. 

The "Mariadalem (Legion of Mary)" ladies learn how
to take Mary as model and pray to her as intercessor. They
wear blue to show their devotion to the Blessed Mother.
A "deanery" represents a region within a diocese. These deanery priests within the Diocese of Visakhapatnam came to Holy Family Mission for their day of recollection July 28, 2014. Deanery priests prayed and reflected on Scripture together, availed themselves of Confession, and shared adoration time. Monthly recollection days at various missions across the deanery, provide a perfect chance for missionaries to share news, ideas for better serving their people and general uplift.

As pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Mission and host of the deanery priests, Fr. Varghese Kalapurakudy wondered how he would feed his visitors.  He lacked funds for a meal until just a couple days before the event, when friends from the U.S. sent a gift so the priests would be fed. Missionaries eat simply from day to day, so were thrilled to enjoy this special meal on their day of renewal.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Missionaries mark 10th Jubilee in Warangal

Fr. Varghese Kalapurakudy joined former seminarian classmates in marking the year leading into their 10th Jubilee as priests. Father took breakfast with four fellow priests at his little residence at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Kakinada. Then they all traveled 400 kilometers (nearly 250 miles) by bus to meet up with the rest of their class at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in the farming town of Jangaon, in the district of Warangal. 
Former classmates share a good laugh before their
10th Jubilee Mass.
"We are gathering and thanking the Almighty God," wrote Fr. Varghese, because He has "protected us and guided us."

In a region less than 3% Catholic, such gatherings are vital in encouraging both missionaries and faithful, who crowded into the colorfully decorated church at Warangal for the July 22nd Mass and celebration.
Thanking God for his vocation, Fr. Varghese, Pastor of Sacred
Heart of Jesus Mission in Kakinada.
The traditional lighting of the lamp at the
beginning of the Jubilee Mass.
Concelebrating priests cluster around the altar.

People line up to greet, thank and receive a blessing
from their priests.

Faithful kiss the hands that consecrate the Eucharistic
Christ in the Mass.

Fr. Varghese and the other priests were presented
with ceremonial shawls...

and received a memento of the day.

A Marian shrine at Sts. Peter and Paul.
The priests share precious time, together once again.

After such a big event he was "deadly tired" when he reached home, admitted Fr. Varghese, but he will always remember this day.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blessing homes across Kakinada

For many weeks, Fr. Varghese visited each Catholic household at Sacred Heart of Jesus Mission in Kakinada, blessing 4-5 homes each evening. During the 45-minute visits, the missionary introduced himself to his people, who are scattered many kilometers across a wide area. Many nights, Missionaries of Charity came along on the visits. 
Fr. Varghese rode his motorbike many kilometers across
Kakinada and outlying villages, visiting faithful at his
new mission. Often, Missionaries of Charity, who live
right down the road from him, came along.
He wrote about one boy and his family he met during a visit: "I got to know a boy is struggling with (a) strange disease. He needs bath every 15 minutes. They lost their dad, and Mum is working as sweeper and his sister is blind."

Fr. Varghese returned with some aid from the U.S. and took the boy to the doctor, who ordered lab tests so the proper medicine could be prescribed.
Fr. Varghese took this young man struggling
with a mysterious skin disease, to a doctor.

On another visit, Fr. Varghese blessed two AIDS patients and their home. The schedule of visits helped the priest better know his parishioners, who come from a variety of ethnic groups and walks of life. Some are from Tamil Nadu, others are Anglo-Indian. He even serves a community of South African college students who attend classes nearby. 

People make their living with computers and as shopkeepers, on fishing boats and oil rigs, and in fertilizer factories. Father thanked God for the chance to be welcomed into people's homes. 

However, keeping his gas tank filled, and his electric, water and other basic bills paid each month, has been a struggle. With a small congregation of scattered Catholics, the offertory is "very less," wrote Fr. Varghese. "So please pray for me, that the Lord may heal my financial struggle." 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Home blessings across Kakinada

A Missionary of Charity and Mariadalem (Legion of Mary) ladies
join Fr. Varghese in praying a Rosary during a visit to a poor
student in Kakinada.
I am "really doing my visiting," wrote Fr. Varghese Kalapurakudy. The houses are "quite far from the rectory," scattered in and outside his town. Post-Easter blessing of homes continued through July, as Fr. Varghese visited every Catholic in his mission of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Kakinada, India. Often, Missionaries of Charity accompanied him on the 4-5 nightly visits. 

He told of "distributing fruits and books to poor students." Another day, he and the members of his "Mariadalem" or "Legion of Mary" visited a widow's house, bringing her gifts of rice and a little cash to pay her bills. That evening Fr. Varghese brought the youth group out visiting the homebound, bringing them "fruits."

"A renewal is taking place in the parish family," wrote Fr. Varghese, after one night of blessings. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Praising God for bed, solar panel and new "decree"

Archbishop Prakash Mallavarapu attended a special Mass
at Infant Jesus Church in Kothakota, declaring the erection 

of a new church.
Fr. S. Baskhar publicly gave thanks for receiving a bed and other gifts, at his new forest assignment at Infant Jesus Mission in Kothakota, India. His missionary friend, Fr. Varghese Kalapurakudy, had told friends in America about Fr. Baskhar's lack of a bed. The need coincided with two young brothers in the friends' Chicago-area homeschool community asking for donations for Fr. Varghese in lieu of gifts at their birthday party. Fr. Varghese was so worried about Fr. Baskhar sleeping on cobra-infested ground in the country, that he turned over the brothers' gift to Fr. Baskhar, so his fellow missionary could buy a sturdy wood bed frame and mattress. 

Other priests gave Fr. Baskhar (shown here at his mission gate) an amplifier and a solar panel. 

"So, today he is blessed by many gifts," wrote Fr. Varghese.

Visiting missionaries from across the Archdiocese of
Visakhapatnam prepare for Mass at Infant Jesus Mission
in Kothakota.

Missionary priests and faithful uplift each other, or fledgling missions could never survive. This gift-giving for Fr. Baskhar took place at a special event for Catholics in rural Kothakota. Catholic villagers here have waited to worship in their own church for many decades. Faithful are scattered across as many as ten villages around Kothakota and largely make their living in agriculture.

Fr. Varghese Kalapurakudy traveled hours north by bus from his Sacred Heart of Jesus Mission in coastal Kakinada, joining other priests and faithful in volunteering days of labor. They settled Fr. Baskhar into his new little rental house in town, near an ancient Hindu site honoring Goddess Durga. They scrubbed, arranged, and decorated mission grounds and the old school used for a church. Then they celebrated a special Mass with Archbishop Prakash Mallavarapu, marking an important event: the Archbishop announced the "Church Erection Decree," launching a church-building project at Fr. Baskhar's Infant Jesus Mission.   

Faithful gathered in Kothakota from surrounding villages for
the special Mass mid-July with Archbishop Prakash
Missionaries from across the Diocese of Visakhapatnam
process for the Mass. 
A traditional oil lamp was lit to inaugurate the event.
The flames signify that we are all called to be the Light of Christ.
The choir shelters under a tent, safe from rain.

Archbishop Prakash Mallavarapu blessed the tabernacle, and
presented the new pastor, Fr. Baskhar, with the keys to 
his mission.

Traditional Indian dancers welcomed the Archbishop,
visiting priests and the faithful.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Preparing to build a jungle church

Villagers help Fr. Baskhar prepare his schoolhouse-church 
and grounds, at Infant Jesus Mission in Kothakota.

After fellow priests helped Fr. Varghese Kalapurakudy settle at his new mission in Kakinada, India, the crew turned to help Fr. S. Baskhar at his jungle mission. First, visiting priests and faithful cleaned Fr. Baskhar's rented house, mission grounds and the school used for a church at Infant Jesus Mission in Kothakota. They concelebrated a welcoming Mass attended by villagers scattered across a wide area. In mid-July, Frs. Varghese, Sridhar and other priests returned to again help clean Fr. Baskhar's compound, preparing to welcome their archbishop and fellow priests traveling in from across the Archdiocese of Visakhapatnam. The event? A special Mass declaring the official decree to erect a church in Kothakota.
A local Hindu man paces around a Neem tree
 at the site of an ancient Hindu temple across
from Fr. Baskhar's little rented house.
Rain made everything soggy. To find a network connection
to send these photos, Fr. Varghese climbed atop
a mission roof.

New paint freshens the schoolhouse-church.
A workday starts with Mass and prayer.

Every mission starts with humble beginnings.