New to the U.S., Indian priest impressed by his Kansas welcome
By David Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
When Father Aneesh Parappanattu, MSFS, stepped off the plane in Wichita “either very late Feb. 9 or very early Feb. 10,” it was his first time in the United States.
“Everything is new,” he said a few days later at the Mass for Consecrated Life at St. Andrew Parish in Wright. “The climate is new; driving on the right side of the road is new. The food is new.”
And yet, the young priest from India felt oddly at home after setting foot in southwest Kansas. Offsetting all the new experiences were the friendly, smiling, and welcoming people of southwest Kansas.
“I am so impressed with the welcoming nature of the people,” he said, smiling. “I feel at home.”
Father Aneesh arrived from his native India literally following in the footsteps of his close friend, Father Prakash Rao Kola, who had arrived just a month earlier. As Father Prakash moved out of the rectory after a month-long orientation at St. John the Baptist Parish in Spearville to serve as parochial administrator in Ashland and Coldwater, Father Aneesh moved in.
Father Aneesh was ordained a priest of the order of the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales on Jan. 9, 2010.
His parents were farmers, growing coconut, pepper, cashews and rubber. He has one brother.
When a child, Father Aneesh served in a Catholic organization, the Mission League, which called upon youngsters in seventh to tenth grade to serve the poor by building and repairing homes, collecting clothes and linens, and offering prayer.
“We also were altar servers,” he said. “Our parish priest was such a nice person. He was inspiring, engaging and understanding. He supported me and was the source of inspiration in my life, and still is, even today.”
When asked if he was surprised by his bishop’s request to come to the United States, Father Aneesh explained that because he is a “Religious” priest rather than a diocesan priest, the request came from his provincial superior rather than a diocesan bishop.
“Yes, it was a surprise,” he said.
Like Father Prakash, Father Aneesh will serve a month-long (approximately) orientation in Spearville before being assigned to another parish. In the mean -time, he will most likely encounter several other interesting, new experiences as he gets to know southwest Kansas and its people. (Bierocks and mutton-busting come to mind.)
And he will enjoy one of his favorite sports, basketball, with another basketball enthusiast, his host, Father Rene Labrador, pastor at St. John the Baptist in Spearville.