They call him Father Thomas.
He is a new priest at St. Charles Catholic Church, joining the Rev. Kent Kaufman.
Father Thomas has been in Lima only a few weeks, yet he cannot tell you exactly what brought him here. He feels there must be a bigger reason why God and his bishop in India sent him half way around the world to assist a congregation in America. Without question, though, he agreed.
“Obedience (to God) is very important. Without obedience there is no life,” he simply says.
But he knows it is not that simple.
Nothing has been simple in his life.
Father Thomas grew up on a small farm in southeastern India. By his own account, he says, “my family is a very, very, very poor family.” But he will tell you, “ I am a lucky person because God was always with us.”
The youngest of three children, Father Thomas was born with good health — unlike his sister and brother who have physical disabilities.
As a boy growing up, his mornings before school saw him tending to the cows, cleaning their pens and feeding them. After school, there would be more chores — including cleaning their clothes by hand — and then came his studies. At 7:30 p.m., his family — including grandparents, aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews — would gather for evening prayer. “If someone knocked on our door, we never opened it. It was prayer time.”
His calling to become a priest came during a Mass after he had completed the 10th grade.
“Something came in my mind. You can go for this, it is your way. Then I told my parents.”
He knew it would be difficult for them because he was needed on the farm.
“At first they say no, but then my father says, ‘God is with us, why should we worry.’”
After that, he would find his father each morning praying for him. “When he prayed, he kneel down and always cried because he wants me to be a good pastor, not an ordinary pastor.”
In 2004, Father Thomas was ordained a priest. He since has received three callings.
“My first call was to work with the poor people,” something he said he thoroughly enjoyed for seven years. “The second call was to work on the school level with the youth. The third call, it is here. Here I am. Lima.”
He is not sure what God has in store for him at St. Charles, but says, “Together. We will journey together.” He wants to learn more about the American culture and people and master his English better, though he speaks it well (he also speaks six languages).
More so, he wants to reach out to those who are struggling to make ends meet or those who have been captured by crime. He doesn’t claim to have all the answers or to be a miracle worker, just someone who is willing to listen and offer help.
His message is a simple one: You can come from a poor family, but you don’t have to be poor in spirit.
“I am a lucky person because God is always with us, my father and mother, brother and sister and nieces and nephews. I miss them, but this is why I am also so happy.”
ROSES AND THORNS:What are all those motorcycles doing in the rose garden?
Rose:To Jim and Mary Godwin, who have hosted the J&M Collectibles Motorcycle Swap Meet in Allen County for more than 30 years. This year’s event event included 174 vendors and hundreds of customers, many who come each year. “It’s like a homecoming,” said Jim Godwin.
Rose: To Martha Boogher, of Lima. She will celebrate her 102nd birthday on Saturday.
Rose: To the Shawnee and Columbus Grove boys’ basketball teams, which finished the year with unbeaten 20-0 records. Good luck in the tournament.
Rose: To Alphonso “Biggie” Townsend, who was named Thursday as the new head football coach of Lima Senior. “This is a very important day for me,” he said. “I played here. I live here, I just got inducted into the (Lima Senior) Hall of Fame.”
Rose: To Keith Bolyard Jr. of Columbus Grove, who had his idea featured in the nationally syndicated comic strip “Pluggers.” He noted, “In Pluggerville, a quid pro quo isn’t illegal.”
Rose: An exhibit to mark the 200th anniversary of the founding of Allen County opened at the Allen County Museum on Wednesday. It will be on display the rest of the year.
Thorn: To Michael Schleeter, the former police chief of Fort Jennings. He agreed to surrender his police officer training certificate as part of a plea agreement that will see him enter a diversion program in lieu of a conviction on a charge of counterfeiting.
Thorn: Railroad crossings from Jameson Avenue to Main Street and parts of Delphos Avenue were closed much of the day Tuesday when a train engine derailed on the Chicago, Fort Wayne and Eastern Railroad tracks in Lima.
PARTING SHOT: Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.