‘You’ - This is my first word I reflect on as I start my ministry. God has sent me through the blessing of our Bishop to you. You are my first priority as to why I am here. You and I become a family today. I thank God for giving me a larger family this time. I thank you for your readiness to welcome me as your pastor. This sense of gratitude runs through me today, my prayers, continue everyday of my ministry and reflect in my love for you and in my service to you.
In my first few bulletin articles I will be introducing myself so that you may know a little bit about me. My name is Antony Lazar Arockiadoss. I was born on the 1st of February, 1976 (46 years old) to Arockiadoss Chiluvappan and Margaret Patrick. I have an older brother Maria Joseph and I am the second oldest. My younger sister Victoria was born after me and number four is my younger brother Augustine and the youngest is Mary Metilda.
In my part of the world, our last names are always our father’s name. In our culture, we don’t have family names, but that does not apply to all of India. Most Indian cultures have family names. So, Arockiadoss (it means, servant of Our Lady), though it is my dad’s name, and for legal purposes it serves as my last name. In India, my family and friends always called me Lazar or Laz. After coming to the United States, I am used to being called Antony (which is pronounced exactly as Anthony) or Father Antony.
I literally grew up in the seminary. I felt the call to serve as a priest when I was in 7th grade. After discussing it with my parents, I joined the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC), an international Missionary Congregation which was just starting up at that time in India. I was born in a city called Chennai (Southern part of India) and joined the Missionaries in Bengaluru which is about 215 miles from my house. I was not quite 15 when I joined the missionaries.
Father Malcolm Fyfe is an Australian Missionary of the Sacred Heart, and was the Superior in India that accepted me into the seminary. He is back in Australia and currently works as the Vicar General of Darwin Diocese. He has been a great influence in my life not just as a spiritual father but also as a great friend. We had a good size group in the seminary. Out of 27, only 3 made it to the priesthood.
I have a B.A and M.A from the University of Bangalore; B.Ed and M.Ed from the University of Madras. I have taught different subjects in different places. After serving as the Bursar for missionaries, I went on to be a lecturer in a Teacher Training College in India before I was sent to the United States as a missionary 15 years ago. In my next article I will share with you about my ministry with the missionaries in the USA and my joining the Diocese of Metuchen.
Father John Barbella is much loved in this parish. I am grateful for his ministry here. Together with the whole parish, I wish him well and pray for his challenging ministry in Colonia. I am also grateful that he is ever ready to help and advise me in my role as a pastor here. I am blessed to have Father Gilbert Starcher here to share my ministry in serving you. Please bear with me as I struggle to learn names and remember faces. You are my priority. You are my family. I am here to serve. Please feel free to talk to me and get used to my ‘Irish’ accent.
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