Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
January 25, 2010
East Indian priest dove into Canadian traditions
God knew what our parish needed - a young, enthusiastic, Carmelite priest from India. And that is exactly who we got. Staunch and staid in our ways, some of us at St. Anne's Parish in Barrhead needed someone to stir the bowl to get us mixing and mingling more freely. We needed someone to light a fire under us so we would more strongly feel God's love for his people and for each other.
Leaving family and friends behind in Kerala, Father Paul Thekkanath came to Barrhead, determined to make a difference and to have a good time doing it.
Embracing his ministry in Canada as a God-given challenge and adventure, Father Paul showed openness to Canada and its people.
Even after studying Canada's climate, he was startled when, in his shirtsleeves, he got off the plane in Toronto. Later, Father admits his giggles erupted when he first viewed the white carpet of snow surrounding Edmonton International Airport.
This was Nov. 10, 2003 and Canada was in a deep freeze. Father left temperatures in the plus 30s and arrived to Alberta's minus 30 temperatures. For the first while, parishioners took turns driving him to Swan Hills for weekly Mass.
Father soon adjusted to our winter road conditions and got his own SUV. During trips to Swan Hills and when Father Paul visited our homes, we all had questions about his family, his country and his schooling for the priesthood. He shared openly and taught us much about his faraway land and his Christian heritage.
CANADA DAY PICNIC
Father Paul was surprised that we as a parish let Canada Day slip by uncelebrated. So he asked us to host a July potluck picnic to honour our nation. This event always had lots of activity, conversation, food and laughter.
These picnics were just one of Father Paul's mixers. Father found many ways to stir the bowl and encourage socializing. Our potlucks have become a cosmopolitan feast with traditional Canadian dishes of different ethnic flavours, Mexican food from our new immigrants, and East Indian delicacies from Father Paul and other brave cooks.
We soon grew to love our pastor and take an interest in his food preferences and the way things are back in India. Father Paul adapted to our ways, tried our foods and learned new recreational activities.
People invited Father to try new ventures, which he eagerly accepted.
Consequently he has done everything from ice-fishing to kayaking and canoeing, horseback riding to snowmobiling, quading to driving a mammoth combine. He has seen much of Canada, including Yellowknife, and he said he loves it. Always ready for a challenge, Father Paul is now working on a master's degree in communication technology through the University of Alberta.
Among our members, Father Paul has made friends with the young and old, the well and the disabled, Canadians and migrants from other countries. He has played cards with the seniors, gone camping with families, played sports with our youth and bounced babies on his knee. Father has taught us to reach out to others and to do what we can for social justice.
With a broad education in many fields, Father Paul has inspired me spiritually and intellectually in my Christian walk. During his six years here, I have grown in my faith and in my own ability to reach out to others.
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