Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,
Last week we had Fr. Ernie join us for our annual Mission appeal. As you all know Fr. Tomy is also a Missionary Priest serving us. I’m not sure if you all have gotten to know his story so I interviewed him for this bulletin.
Fr. Tomy is the 5th of six children (three boys and three girls). He has four nephews and nine nieces. Currently he has three grand nephews. He grew up on a rubber tree farm in the Southern part of India. There were 200 trees on the farm and growing up he would collect sap from the trees to make rubber every day.
Fr. Tomy likes to play basketball, going for walks, readings, playing cards (Canasta, Euchre, Cribbage), and watching Cricket and Soccer. He enjoys traveling and visiting places when he has the opportunity.
When he was 19 years old, he went to seminary in India. At first, he didn’t want to become a priest. Rather he went to seminary to complete his 11th and 12th grades and then come back home. God had a different plan. He also found out that his Mom was praying an extra Rosary for him every day after he joined the seminary. That was in addition to the Rosary that they would pray every day as a part of their family prayers. (This is just like Mary going to Jesus as the wedding of Cana on behalf of that young couple who were about to run out of wine).
In his first year of seminary he had a retreat on which the director spoke of the priesthood, one’s duties as a priest, how and why someone is called. That really inspired him. From that point on he knew that he wanted to be a priest. It was an additional bonus that he found the seminary studies went more smoothly than back home.
When he joined the seminary, his older brother was already in the seminary. It was he who brought him to the seminary. Fr. Tomy told his mom that while both of them were there only one would become a priest. Since his brother was very holy and prayerful with a great desire to be a priest, he figured that would be his brother. Again, God had another plan. After one year his brother went back home and Fr. Tomy continued on. (His brother is married now and eventually became a school principal).
After seven years of studies he went to Tanzania to complete his seminary studies. His first year in Africa he spent a time in a parish getting ministry experience and learning the language, Swahili. (Fr Tomy speaks three languages- Swahili, English, and Malayalam). After a one year of parish experience he finished with four years of Theology. He was ordained on August 4th 2001 at his home parish in India. He belongs to the order of the Missionaries of St. Francis De Sales. They are more commonly known as Francesalians.
After ordination he went back to Tanzania to serve. During his time in Tanzania he had four different assignments (Two years as an associate priest, two years helping in the seminary, and then two different parishes as Pastor. His first pastorate was to a large Church that included 25 village chapels that he would drive to off road through the bush. Over the course of three months he could make his way to all 25 of the villages. At his first parish he had one associate helping him. He was in this assignment for 5 ½ years.
At his second pastorate to a smaller parish that had 8 village chapel but he was by himself. Over the course of one month he would make the rounds to the villages. He was also in this assignment for 5 ½ years.
After twenty years in Africa he came to us where he helps both of our parishes and Hillsdale. And we are blessed to have him serving with us so far from his own home!