UP Catholic 10 23 2015 E Edition Page 3

www.upcatholic.org THE U.P. CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD SUNDAY October 23, 2015 3 FROM PAGE 2 FATHER SEBASTIAN KAVUMKAL Father Sebastian, as his parishioners call him, has left his background in India for a new life in the U.P. It is very different here, he says, like night and day. The customs, language, weather are all differ- ent. After 18 years as a priest, I started all over again in kindergarten! Father Sebastian said he spoke English because all his studies were in English, but was not familiar with American English and dialects. And the culture here is com- pletely different from India. I dont know how I ended up here this long, he laughs. Bishop Garland asked me to come to the Marquette diocese in 1997. The plan was for me to stay for three or four years, but Im still here. I dont know how that happened! Father Sebastian explained that the Mis- sionary Society of St. Thomas the Apostle is solely dedicated to missionary work and prepares its students for only missionary work. The congregation was founded in 1968 with 350 priests that were assigned to mission parishes in India, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the U.S. and Canada. Currently, only two are working in the Diocese of Marquette. After working in missions in northern India, 1,600 miles from his home, he was asked to come to Marquette. He was assigned to St. Therese Mission in AuTrain and St. Rita Parish in Trenary for three years. I planned to return to India after that, he said. But, I was granted a one- year sabbatical to study, and I was asked serve here at Holy Name of Mary. The differences between his work in India and the Soo have helped him in his personal life, he said. In missions, there arent many parishioners. We often work with poor people in rural areas and not in a Catholic community, he explained. Here, Im working in a Catholic com- munity, and that helps a priest to grow personally and spiritually. While he is deeply committed to minis- tering to the people of his parishes, Father Sebastian says his plans are to return to India in the future. Father Sebastian said living in the U.P. has helped him in another way. He has developed a major hobby as a nature photographer. FATHER MICHAEL CHENIER Father Chenier, 34, frew up on a raspber- ry farm in the little community of Flat Rock, near Gladstone. While his life now is very different, the native Yooper says he takes his background with him in his min- istry. My background is still with me, its not behind me, he said. I spoke with my dad for an hour about a building and grounds decision I had to make. Three or four of my high school youth froup friends and three college students from NMU came to help with a cleaning bee at the Newman Center here. The people who were influential in my life then still are now. St. Joseph, where he was assigned in July, is his first pastorate, and it has been a learning experience. I havent been alone, Father Chenier said. The people here are so receptive and welcoming. Its a smaller university with a different culture than Marquette. Its far from Marquette, and it feels like it is. But the bishop has been here twice already since Ive been assigned here. Hes been great. On one of his visits he spent time with the college students, and we answered all their questions. Afterward, we went to McDonalds for ice cream with them. In some ways, Father Chenier says he feels unprepared for his role as priest. I have five pieces of property to oversee, he said. One of the things Ive learned is how to ask for help! A lot of people take ownership in this parish. Weve had three cleaning bees, and 30 people showed up to help. But this is certainly increasing my skill set. Knowing how to maintain a build- ing has been my biggest learning curve. Father Chenier says he works with Father Kavumkal, His parish runs RCIA for both, and I run the youth group for both. Its a good working relationship. We drop in on each others sessions, so its not completely divided. Father Chenier said his experience working with youth groups and college students in Marquette has helped him in his current assignment. Our campus min- istry is growing. Theres a lot of receptivity to Gods work, he said. He said hes busier than he has ever been in his life. Im beginning to under- stand what Jesus means when he says, To do the will of my Father is my food and drink. I can work all day and not be tired. Giving yourself to the Lord is a source of fulfillment. I'm happy as a priest. The diversity of priests in Sault Ste. Marie is reflected throughout the Diocese of Marquette. The diocese welcomes and celebrates the richness of their varied backgrounds and experiences, and trea- sures them as committed, hardworking ministers to their people. JOHN FEE THE U.P. CATHOLIC Father Michael Chenier celebrates Mass at his new home of St. Joseph Parish in Sault Ste. Marie where he has been the pastor since July 1. QUICK FACTS: FATHER DAVASIA SEBASTIAN' KAVUMKAL, MST Born and raised in Kerala, India Attended a Hindu elemen- tary school in Kerala Attended Catholic high school in Kerala Attended Missionary Society of St. Thomas the Apostle Studied Philosophy and Theology at a seminary outside Kerala for three years Ordained in 1979 Assigned to a mission diocese in northern India, 1979-1997 Appointed to St. Therese Mission in AuTrain and St. Rita Parish in Trenary 1997-2000 Took a one-year sabbatical to pursue studies at Lake Su- perior State University, Sault Ste. Marie Assigned to Holy Name of Mary Proto-Cathedral, Sault Ste. Marie and Sacred Heart Mission, Sugar Island 2000 to present Father Sebastian Kavumkal F th QUICK FACTS: FATHER MICHAEL CHENIER Born and raised in Flat Rock, Mich. Attended Flat Rock Ele- mentary School and Gladstone High School Attended Bay de Noc Com- munity College Earned bachelor's de- gree in Cath- olic studies at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn. Attended St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Ill. Ordained June 5, 2009 Assigned to Resurrection and Holy Spirit parishes, Menominee and Holy Redeem- er, Birch Creek, 2009-2013 Served St. Michael and St. Christopher parishes, Mar- quette 2013-2015 Assigned his first pastorate at St. Joseph, Sault Ste. Marie, July 1, 2015 Father Michael Chenier (USPS 916-360 ISSN 10634525) THE U.P. CATHOLIC The Newspaper of the Diocese of Marquette Publisher: Most Rev. John F. Doerfler Editor: John Fee Assistant Editor: Jamie Carter Advertising Manager: Deacon Stephen Gretzinger Administrative Assistant: Sheila Wickenheiser Direct all news, correspondence and changes of address to: 1004 Harbor Hills Drive, Marquette, MI 49855-8851. 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