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What is your family background?

I was born in 1984 in the hilly District of Wayanad, in Kerala State, in southern India. I was born into a farm family. My father, George, was the director of our small-scale farm; my mother, Mary, was the homemaker for me, and my older brother, Shanil. I lost my father when I was five years old, and his parents took care of us. Our family produced rice, coffee, pepper, ginger, mustard, etc.

Kochuthazhath Anil India 01aFr. Anil Kochuthazhath, M.S.Our house is very close to a wild forest, with animals such as elephants, tigers, deer, wild boars, and monkeys. They come freely to our land and eat what they want. Eventually, we had to change our employment due to this animal incursion. Our family is very close to Our Lady of La Salette, so much so that my older brother’s daughter is named Melanie.

How did you first hear about La Salette?

In tenth grade, a parishioner introduced me to La Salette Seminary in Kerala. Fr. Benny Thadathilkunnel, M.S., was my Vocation Director. My mother, Mary, was very devoted to Our Lady, and I was quickly drawn to devotion to Our Lady as well. I felt that the La Salettes were God’s call for me.

What is your educational experience?

I completed my college and theology degrees and was ordained on January 14, 2013, in my home parish, St. Jude Church. To this day, I am the only priest from my parish. After ordination, I was sent to get my Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW), as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Law (LLB), with the hope that I can, as a law volunteer, help others to know their rights and duties.

What has been your ministerial experience?

In my years of preparation as a priest, I was sent as a deacon in our new mission parish in the State of Andhra Pradesh, southeastern India. As in most of India, this area has its own separate culture, language, and alphabet. I spent ten months learning the language and understanding the culture. After my ordination, I spent my first year in the Diocese of Palakkad in Kerala as an Associate Pastor. Then I returned to our mission parish in the State of Andhra Pradesh. I was an Associate Pastor, then Pastor, and remained there for eight years. I was also the Manager of the La Salette School (Kindergarten through tenth grade).

our lady of la salette001bOur Lady of La Salette image from IndiaOur parishioners are a very simple and cooperative people. They are people of faith and love their priests. These people knew I was a “stranger” from another State, and so they were extra kind toward me, sharing with us their family produce, food and family. They were always warm and welcoming and included us in their family gatherings. They like us around them. We La Salettes are all close to them.

What impresses you about the La Salette Apparition?

Our parishioners in Andhra Pradesh all have a deep devotion to Our Lady of La Salette. For example, they regularly come for Saturday Mass and visit the church when they need prayers for a family concern. They celebrate the nine days of the La Salette Novena and are always gathered to celebrate the La Salette Feast Day with excitement and devotion.

For myself, the La Salette quality of hospitality, as exemplified by Mary’s welcoming the two children during her Apparition, is alive and well within our La Salette Missionary Family. I am loved, accepted, and supported in all that I do. In short, I have found another home.