Fr. Varghese Kalapurakudy

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Rare Visit Home

Fr. Varghese (fifth from left), made a rare visit to his home state of Kerala to visit his family. He stands with co-missionaries from his current home state of Andhra Pradesh. His father Jose stands with cane, his niece Anna Maria is center, and his mother Philomena and sister Rinty are to the right.
When priests serve mission dioceses, they often bid family goodbye for years. Fr. Varghese answered God's call to serve where he was needed most, and left 30% Christian Kerala in southwest India, to serve missions along the eastern Bay of Bengal, in an area less than 3% Christian. Visits back home have been few over the ten years since Father's ordination for the mission Diocese of Visakhapatnam, because needs are heavy in the missions and resources scarce. 

Before he left for his visit home, Fr. Varghese
celebrated his birthday with parishioners at his
Sacred Heart Mission in Kakinada.
"I am happy to be a priest," says Fr. Varghese, who puts his primary focus on teaching his people to love the Mass and the Sacraments, and on Eucharistic and Marian devotion.

He was also thrilled when a chance arose this past September to visit his parents and their home parish two hours drive from Ernakulam. A year prior, Fr. Varghese forego an opportunity to visit home after cyclones hit his missions. He used funds earmarked for his trip, to provide safe tankers of water for his people around Holy Family Church in Yeleswaram and its five mission stations.

Fr. Varghese's sister Rinty, above, and niece
Anna Maria, below, feeds him a piece
of birthday cake.
This year, a friend in America again provided needed funds so Fr. Varghese could make the two-day train ride across India to visit his family. A number of mission priests joined him, turning the visit into a pilgrimage. They all appreciated celebrating Fr. Varghese's birthday in his family home, attending the Mass he celebrated at his parent's Syro Malabar Catholic church, and touring Catholic sites and shrines in an area so richly Catholic.
Sadly, the trip was cut short after just two days when a co-priest and former rector at Fr. Varghese's seminary died unexpectedly. Archbishop Prakash Mallavarapu flew in from Rome and Fr. Varghese and the other priest-pilgrims headed back home by bus, since they could only find standing room only tickets on the train. They spent one night in a bus station and pressed into the grueling two-day trip back, making it just in time to pray at the funeral of their senior priest.

Fr. Varghese celebrates a birthday Mass at his
parents' home parish in the state of Kerala
His parents were sad to see him go, but were understanding of the situation, wrote Fr. Varghese.

Nearly 130 priests were there for the burial. "I was deadly tired, but we made it," he wrote. "My legs are swollen, because of standing."

The day after the funeral, Fr. Varghese wrote that the "missionaries are again in action, after a long and tiresome journey. Priests in the Archdiocese were appreciating us for the immediate response to the need of a fellow brother priest." 

No comments:

Post a Comment