Meet Father Renny Abraham…
For Abraham in the Bible, obedience to God meant traveling to the region of Moriah to sacrifice his son Isaac. For Father Renny Abraham in 2012, obedience meant traveling to the United States of America from India.
Originally assigned to New York City, Father Renny came to Assumption in December, 2015, in order to serve as the Mission Director of St. John Neumann Knanaya Catholic Mission in Philadelphia and Christ the King Knanaya Catholic Mission in New Jersey.
However, unlike Father Mike or other past ABVM pastors, he is not a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia but for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago, and was incardinated to the Archdiocese of Kottayan, Kerala, India. Most Americans are not aware that in addition to the Western Latin Rite, the Catholic Church also consists of 22 Eastern churches. Ukrainian is the largest but Syro-Malabar—founded by St. Thomas—is the second largest.
Ordained in the Jubilee Year, 2000, Father Renny’s first steps toward his goal began in childhood. He feels his calling to become a priest was a gift from God and was nourished by the good example of his parents, including his father’s active involvement in the church as a sacristan. His parents are still alive, as are his two sisters and two brothers. His youngest brother (the fifth child) is currently in the seminary. Every year Father goes back to India for a month to visit them and his friends.
While he resides in our rectory, Father travels 2,000 miles each month to minister to his two “flocks” who currently share worship space with other parishes: 135 families attend in Edison, NJ and 60 families at St. Albert the Great in Huntingdon Valley. His undergraduate degrees in Philosophy and Theology and his Master’s in Social Work help him perform those duties but he appreciates “the gifts” of care, support and counsel he has received from Father Mike, the ABVM staff and parishioners. In return, Father Renny believes the best gift he—or anyone—can give to the community is a smiling face and a happy disposition.
As one would expect, life in a different hemisphere has presented some challenges, especially the food and sports. Father enjoys volleyball, basketball and ping pong and welcomes an opportunity to play any of them. However, his very favorite sport is cricket. India has one of the best teams in the world. He is an avid fan and watches games on his computer whenever he can.
Although Father Renny’s journey has covered many miles, he feels that, like Abraham, his obedience has been rewarded. In addition to the friends he has made and the love he has received in our country, he experienced the happiest moment of his life in New York City. Outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral last fall, he got to meet Pope Francis and kiss his hand.
Where Father’s obedience will take him next, we do not know. But we are all thankful that for the time being he is part of the Assumption parish family.
Father Renny and fellow priests, with the Bishop, working in the
St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago.
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