Area Catholic churches welcome new priest

ALICE ORTIZ/MONROE JOURNAL Father Antony Chakkalakkal is the new priest at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Aberdeen and St. Helen Catholic Church in Amory.

ALICE ORTIZ/MONROE JOURNAL
Father Antony Chakkalakkal is the new priest at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Aberdeen and St. Helen Catholic Church in Amory.

By Alice Ortz/Monroe Journal

Father Antony Chakkalakkal, originally from India, is serving double duty as priest for St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Aberdeen and St. Helen Catholic Church in Amory.

Father Antony is from the southeastern part of India, an area that is traditionally Catholic. He is a member of the Herald of Good News, which was founded in 1984 in India. It is a Clerical Missionary Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right in the Catholic Church.

He became a priest in December 2006 and served in India until he came to Jackson in 2012, where he served for six months before serving six months in Meridian. Serving as priest in Monroe County became his next place of residency earlier this year.

“I am just learning about the United States. I enjoy experiencing different cultures and aspects of living,” said Father Antony.

Father Antony holds a 9 a.m. Mass on Sundays and a 6 p.m. Mass on Wednesdays in Aberdeen. He alternates Sundays between Amory and Houston, where he holds a 10:30 a.m. Mass. On Sunday afternoons, he helps out at Columbus Air Force Base.

In his spare time, he enjoys reading, fishing and working in his vegetable garden.

English is the third language for him. First is Malayalam, his native language, and Hindi is his national language.

“I am trying to improve my English and also learn Spanish so I can do Mass in Spanish,” Father Antony said.

He has a five-year contract with the diocese, which can be extended a few more years if necessary.

“My goal is to help people grow in faith and spirituality. I encourage people to teach their children to learn about God and share it with others through how they live,” Father Antony said.

Father Antony said he is learning how to approach people here.

“People here are very willing to help and are so hospitable,” he said.

He said driving here is much safer than in India and that people are more concerned about their life and others when driving in the states.

“It is good to learn how each culture lives and does. This is a good place for me,” Father Antony said.