Fr. Alwin Chinnappan | Ordination Reflection

June 1, 2021

My name is Fr. Alwin Chinnappan from the diocese of Kumbakonam, India. I was ordained to the priesthood of Jesus on May 22, 2021, by Cardinal Sean at the Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston.

I would say the faith which I received from my parents and their exemplary pious Catholic practices are the key factors that led me to enter the seminary. I first entered the seminary for my diocese of Kumbakonam in 2008 when I was fifteen years old. I have now been in the seminary, both in India and in the USA, for thirteen years. When I was a child, I served as an altar boy in my parish. I also was very intrigued by and participated in the Marian devotional movement. These are all factors in my life that brought me close to Jesus and enabled me to experience His unfathomable love.

My pastor, Fr. Cyril, is my mentor and one of the key influences in helping me to answer the divine call. My home parish consists of 12 substations located in the remote rural areas in some parts of the parish. Fr. Cyril has to cross a massive river in his bare feet in the dark of night so that he would be able to reach the people of God without any hesitation in all of the crucial times. His dedication, zeal, commitment, and willingness to serve the people of God inspired me to enter the seminary.

While I was having a conversation with one of our seminarians a couple of months ago, I reflected with him that the seminary formation is like being in the mother's womb. Yes, the child receives all the nutrition from the mother until he/she is born. Likewise, I was in the womb of seminary about thirteen years, and now I am standing here as a newborn child or, in other words, as a new priest to serve the people of God. My life of seminary formation has ended, and a new life of ministry has begun now.

The fraternal relationship of my classmates is my ever-cherished moment as a seminarian. The seminary is the place where one may find the future Church. I am so happy to be a part of this future Church; along with the students, the entire seminary is the place to learn the heavenly wisdom and truths. So, I am constantly thanking God for the precious gift of my vocation. I would say to the seminarians – never lose the gift of the vocation to the priesthood. The sufferings and difficulties that we go through in our vocation journey are nothing compared to the suffering of Jesus on the cross. Remember, many difficulties and hardships may come along our way, but our good lord will guide and strengthen us in every moment.

I remember the words of my vice-rector in the minor seminary - If God assists you, nobody can resist you; if God resists you, nobody can assist you. Yes, it is God who had chosen me for his ministry, and that is why I stand here as the priest of Jesus. On my first thanksgiving mass, one of my friends told me what a privilege it is to say the same consecration prayer that Jesus said 2000 years ago. Yes, the vocation to the priesthood is a precious gift, and it is the priest who makes Eucharist available. My prayers and wishes are that I need to preserve this priesthood without any stain until my last breath.

As I have completed this journey, I want to thank my parents, brothers and all my relatives, and the seminary faculty members for standing by my side to achieve this journey. And, I gratefully remember the parishioners of St. Michael the Archangel and Our lady of the Airways, Winthrop where I did my diaconate assignment.

I also look forward to my priesthood ministry at the Catholic Parishes of Saint Agnes and Saint Camillus in Arlington, MA.

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