The Quarterly Newsletter
The Bay Area Serra Club
February 26, 2013
The usual message from our Chaplain Father Benny will appear in our next issue, in its place however we are happy to present a brief glimpse of Father Benny's beginnings and his recent travels to his beloved India.
It was on January 10, 1969 that a boy was born to Joseph and Theresa Thadathikunnel in the state of Kerala, India. Joseph and Theresa were farmers and had four other children, three boys; Jose a teacher, Tomy ,who works for a publishing company, and Roy a farmer, and one girl Mercy, who became a nurse.
The Thadathikunnel children grew up in Kerala who from an early age learned about their Catholic Faith from Theresa their mother who was a strict disciplinarian. Theresa's brother Fr. Jose Karikattukaniel was a diocesan priest and he also lived in Kerala, India. The Thadathilkunnel family attended St. Francis of Assisi's parish where young Benny became an Altar server. They all had a great love and devotion for the Blessed Mother.
St. Thomas Catholic School provided Benny his primary and secondary education reinforcing in him the thought of entering the Seminary that had been planted in him by Theresa his mother who was a devoted Catholic. After finishing his High school he planned to join the seminary. As he had a great love for the Blessed Mother he was looking for community that is dedicated to Mother Mary and he found the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette. So he joined there to become a priest.
It was during an outing with students from the minor seminary that Benny feels he experienced a call from God. The youngsters had made a short day trip to a nearby river where they enjoyed the sandy banks and had a very nice time. While in the water Benny inadvertently happened to step in a “deep swirl” which pulled him down into water of considerable depth. Benny suddenly felt the strong pull being dragged onto the deep water and thought of the imminent possibility that he might not be able to come up to the surface. He prayed to God that if he wanted him to become a priest He will save him. As this unexpected event happened so suddenly after a short time he found himself climbing out of the river onto dry land.
A strange feeling overcame him as he recuperated from the frightening experience. As he stepped out onto the safe bank of the river he saw this woman who mentioned to him that at different times in the recent past nine people had been drawn to that “deep swirl” and had never came up again. Later on after much thought Benny felt that incident – managing to come out unscathed from the river - had reaffirmed in him the call from God to become a Priest.
After his Philosophy studies he was asked to go to Philippines to continue his priestly formation. It was so hard for him to leave his own native land. His family was sad when they heard the news. After much prayer and talk with family he decided to leave for Philippines. His life was not easy in the Philippines but he survived because he had a great dream of becoming a priest one day.
By the Grace of God Benny was ordained as a Priest in the Philippines on February 5, 1999 in the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette with four other priests. He celebrated his first mass in his home town parish on April. His first assignment as a Priest was to be the Vocations Director of the Seminary in Kerala, India.
The work of Father Benny's and that of numerous other priests and faculty initiated in 1999 was to yield its first fruits with the Ordination of four Seminarians from the first class at the Seminary in Kerala. The magnificent event was held at various parishes in India this past January. The newly ordained priests are:
Fr. Jeneesh Mundithottiyil MS, Ordained at St. Sebastian's Church, Padichira India January 5, 2013.
Fr. Dileesh Porianvelil MS, Ordained at St. Sebastian's Church, Kottiyoor India January 15, 2013.
Fr. Anoop Manchira MS, St. Francis of Assisi Church, Kerala, India January 16, 2013.
Fr. Anil Kochuthazhath MS, St. Jude's Church, Moolamkavu, India.
Father Benny had vacation time and this gave him the opportunity to travel from Houston to India and witness the Ordination of the four Indian Seminarians from the first class at the Seminary where he received his first assignment of his Priestly Career in 1999 as the Vocations Director of the Seminary. No doubt this event marks one of the high marks on his and efforts of many other priests and people devoted to the promotion of Vocations at the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette Seminary.
It is with much joy that the Serra Club of the Bay Area unites with Father Benny our Chaplain and the priests and faculty of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette Seminary in this most joyful celebration. He became the chaplain of Bay Area Serra Club in 2008.
We take this opportunity to express our admiration to Father Benny for his guidance in our pursuit to the promotion of vocations at our club; he has earned our admiration and respect as we have witnessed his reverence and devotion as he celebrates Mass, no doubt traits inspired as a child by his mother.
Before we go we like to offer our prayer to Almighty God to pour His choicest blessings to: the newly Ordained Priests; the La Salette Seminary; their families and friends in India; Priests from the US that traveled to India; and all the people of good will all over the world.
The next issue of our newsletter will bring you the happenings at our club and till we meet again let us go work for vocations and look for the face of Jesus in one another.