Pastor's Introduction, Part 2

08-14-2022From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. Antony Arockiadoss

Dear Family!

It was a joy in meeting you at all masses last weekend. It was a joy to meet Father Pat after 13 years as his sister, Maryann was my friend before Father. It was a joy also to meet all the deacons at mass and of course Father Gilbert, our Parochial Vicar, whose Priestly Anniversary is on the 22nd of August.

Last week I wrote to you, introducing myself and my background before I came to the United States. This week, I would like to tell you more about my pastoral experiences in different parts of the country. I landed in Chicago 14 years ago (July 2008) after the invitation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, USA Province. The provincial (The Priest in-charge) invited me to stay at the Provincial House as I was assigned to the nearby parish in Sycamore, IL. Instead I was sent to do Mission preaching to different parts of the country for the summer and was sent to Soboba, an Indian Reservation parish in San Bernardino Diocese, California.

After working with Missionaries in Soboba and Palm Springs a few months, I was sent to Holy Family Church in Nazareth PA (March 2009 to September 2010). This was the 1st full-time assignment I received from the missionaries. And this is where I felt the call to the Diocesan way of life as a priest. Bishop Paul accepted me into the diocese and gave me a temporary assignment as the parochial vicar of St. Helena’s Parish in Edison.

After 2 years in St. Helena’s parish (March 2011 to June 2013), I was transferred to St. Bartholomew’s Church in East Brunswick (June 2013 to May 2015). During this time, Bishop Bootkoski incardinated me (made me a Diocesan Priest) into the Diocese of Metuchen. I was sent briefly to Mexico to learn some Spanish and was assigned to St. Magdalen de Pazzi in Flemington (July 2015 to July 2017).

Bishop James Checchio became our Bishop at that time. He transferred me to the Cathedral briefly (August to October 2017) before making me the administrator of Our Lady of the Assumption in Hackettstown and also the Episcopal Vicar for Hunterdon and Warren counties of our Diocese (November 2017 to July 2022). The Bishop renewed my responsibility as the Episcopal Vicar as I start my ministry here in Philipsburg.

I am blessed to have such a rich presbyterate which is very multinational and multicultural. A good number of our priests were former religious priests belonging to a Religious community or a Missionary Congregation. And a good number of our priests are from different countries. In March, 2019 I became a citizen of the United States.

I look back at my 19 years of being a priest, worked in different places and thanking God for all the opportunities I continue to receive from God’s generosity, and being constantly reminded about a famous line of a Tamil Poet (Iniyan Poongundranar) ‘Yadum Oore, Yavarum Kelir’ which can be translated as ‘Every land is yours, everyone is your family’. I pray with Saint Paul, “I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you.” (Philippians 1:3-4)

Fr. Antony