We caught up with Father Seejo to learn more about where he’s from, what he’s learned living around the world, and his first impressions of St. Martha!
Where are you from?
I’m from India – the southern part, a state called Kerala. Christians in Kerala have been there for centuries living among the Hindus. St. Thomas the apostle came there in the first century and there’s been Christianity ever since.
Kerala also has the highest concentration of Catholics in India. There are four million Catholics there – a church every three miles.
Tell us about your family.
I have three brothers and two sisters. My Dad passed away two years ago, but my mom is still there in Kerala. My younger brother is a priest in India as well. Right now he’s in Rome doing higher studies. He will finish this year.
How did you know you wanted to become a priest?
My family was very involved in the church, especially my father and grandfather. We had family prayer every day, and our faith was strong. I was an altar server at mass three to four days a week. Our family was close to all the priests in the parish and they made friendly visits to my family more often. I liked my priests and the things they did in the parish especially helping people in need and the impact they made in the lives of many was really inspiring. All this helped shape my interest in the priesthood.
Where have you served as a priest?
I was ordained in 2004 and served for two years in India. Then I was in New Zealand for 10 years, working on the North Island, in different parishes and schools there. Then I came to Kentucky last year (2017), and worked at St. Bernadette.
You’ve lived all over – how has your journey shaped you and what can we learn from other cultures around the world?
I’m from a country with several different cultures, languages and religions, so I grew up in a diverse place, before I ever left home. Still, a lot of my formation came from travelling to different places and experiencing other cultures, traditions and faith backgrounds.
In every culture we can observe unique values and insights which another culture may lack. Such as some cultures show great respect for the elders, and from another culture I learned how the community really helped the grieving process.
For example, the traditions of the indigenous people in New Zealand after the death of a loved one. Their grieving process involves long days of mourning together as a community. When someone dies in the tribe, the deceased will be brought to the community’s meeting place. People spend time together with the grieving family, they talk, eat, sing, pray together and share stories of the deceased. This is really therapeutic to the grieving family. They know that they are not alone in their loss. Their whole community is with them, which gives them strength and peace in the difficult time.
I learned many other things which I use time to time in my homilies.
What’s your impression of St. Martha so far?
St. Martha is a super active parish, very vibrant. People are very generous – you can tell they want the parish to thrive. Many people seem to know each other well.
People are prayerful and I am glad to see people come early to mass and praying quietly in the church.
St. Martha is a welcoming community and people are friendly and I really feel at home here.
What is your vision for the parish?
What I’d like to see is everybody trying to have that personal encounter with Jesus. That’s what Pope Francis is inviting all Catholics to do – to have a deeper relationship with Jesus. Unless we have a closer relationship with Jesus, we cannot be a disciple of Christ.
I would like to offer more faith formation classes so that our parishioners would be better informed about our faith and would help them become an intentional disciple of Jesus Christ.
What would you like for St. Martha parishioners and students to know about you?
I would like them to know that this is my family now, so I love everybody and I want to get to know every one more personally; “A good shepherd know his sheep well”. I am a good listener and ready to listen to their stories, their dreams, their aspirations, their struggles.
What do you like to do for fun?
I like to listen to music, and I like gardening, cycling, and photography.