I recently had the opportunity to ask Fr. Franklin Joseph Pottananickal, of the Diocese of Kalyan in Mumbai (on the western coast of India, on the Arabian Sea), some questions about his faith and the situation of the Church in India. Fr. Franklin has traveled around the world, evangelizing through his media presence. He has celebrated Mass for EWTN, and is active on social media, including Twitter. May you be inspired by Fr. Franklin’s labors in the vineyard, serving the faithful of the Indian sub-continent!
1) Please briefly describe your faith journey, and how you came to discern a call to the priesthood. Also, what is your diocese, and what year were you ordained?
I belong to the Diocese of Kalyan, India. I was ordained on December 30, 2004. Growing up, my home was the closest house to the parish church. Therefore, there was a good relationship built with all of the parish priests. I was an altar boy since the time I received my First Holy Communion, and I was active in the pious associations for the children, such as the Sodality and Mission League. My closeness to the Church and friendships with the priests were the inspiring factors that began my journey of discerning my call to the priesthood.
2) In what specific ministerial capacities have you served as a priest?
I have worked as an associate parish priest, a parish priest, secretary to the bishop, chief editor of the Diocesan Bulletin, director of the Diocesan Youth Apostolate, and director of the Diocesan Department of Faith Formation. After these services in the Diocese, I pursued a Licentiate in Institutional Communication from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. At present, I am serving as the director of the Diocesan Media Department, public relations officer of the Diocese, and a parish priest.
3) What are your greatest joys about being a priest?
One of the most joyous moments in my life is being with the Lord in the Eucharist. It strengthens me to be with the faithful in every walk of their life.
4) What are some challenges that the Church in India faces?
The influential nature of multi-cultural and multi-religious contexts of society are one of the biggest challenges to the Church in India to continue her mission. Another challenge to the Church in India, since I am involved with media, is how to utilize the present media for the continuation of her mission.
5) What are some ways in which the Church in India is thriving?
In being a helping hand to the needy and providing a better life to the other. Today, the Church in India is becoming the voice of the voiceless, with a presence in every corner of the nation.
6) What advice do you have for young Catholics around the world?
God has blessed us with a life. The world is filled with lots of opportunities. Use the openings in life for the greater glory of God.
7) What is your perspective on the New Evangelization?
Today the world is looking for correct ideologies and guidelines. Therefore, witnessing the nature of our Catholic life can strengthen the process of the New Evangelization.
8) I tend to ask this same question in my interviews – what is your favorite scriptural passage, and why?
“Be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). God’s blessing has been bestowed on us in each moment of our life. Therefore, we are called to provide the same to others.
9) In what ways does being a disciple of Jesus Christ bring you joy?
I am thankful to him for making me instrumental in the hands of the Lord by providing happiness to others. The love, care, and friendship of the faithful makes my life more meaningful in each moment.
I thank Fr. Franklin for the chance to speak with him, and for his candid responses. Fr. Franklin’s service both within and beyond the continent of Asia are admirable. Hopefully, you will continue to follow his holy efforts – particularly via his media presence – in the interest of the New Evangelization.
image: Chennamkary St.Joseph’s Syro-Malabar Catholic Church By Civi.vm (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons