Fr Jophin Joy aims to bring joy

Fr Jophin Joy 400I belong to the Apostolic Life Community of Priests. Our community is popularly known as the Holy Spirit Fathers. I was born and raised in Kerala, India. My parents are farmers and still live in Kerala. My brother is married, and he lives with his family in New Zealand.

My family is very religious and engaged in Church life. My grandparents were particular about attending Holy Mass and we prayed together as a family every evening. I strongly believe this kind of formation at home instilled in me a deep sense of depending on and belonging to God.

I lived with my parents and my brother until I joined the minor seminary of Holy Spirit Fathers in Kerala at the age of sixteen. After a year of formation, I moved away from my home state to join a major seminary and continue with my education.

I completed a Bachelor of Philosophy and spent a year on pastoral placement at a Holy Fathers minor seminary where I could interact with new seminarians and engage in local parish life. I spent a year as a pre-novitiate followed by a canonical year of discernment. A this time, God assisted me to make wise decisions and I continued on my journey to the priesthood. I spent three years studying theology and preparing for the priesthood. I became a Deacon and spent a year serving as a Deacon in different parishes. On 16 November 2019 I was ordained a priest at my home parish. I thank God for calling me and guiding me all through the years. My grandparents and parents had played a crucial role in realising my dream.

I chose to be part of the society of Holy Spirit fathers because it offers a community life and also sends members to render pastoral ministry in parishes. The charism of the society is based on the Easter-Pentecost spirituality by which every member is encouraged to give a resurrection experience to all the downtrodden. The society also engages in prayer for a new Pentecost in which everyone feels one, in heart, and in mind. This kind of spirituality and life inspired me to join the Holy Spirit Fathers. I love being a priest because it gives me a deep sense of fulfilment. I believe that by the grace of God I will be able to serve many people, because the most important attribute for a priest is to be a servant of God and the people of God.

I have been to counties outside India for conferences and for short visits, but this is the first time that I have been in a foreign land for pastoral work. After having worked in three parishes for about ten years, my superiors decided to send me to Australia, and I heartily said ‘yes’ to their new proposal.

The Diocese of Sandhurst arranged a wonderful induction programme which has helped me to feel part of the Diocese. Now, as assistant priest at St Brendan’s, Shepparton I feel excited and motivated to serve here.

St Brendan’s, Shepparton is active and vibrant and the people are very welcoming. The one thing that has surprised me here is the role of women in the church. Women are actively involved in every activity of the church. In India gender equality is still an issue in most situations. Another good thing with the church in Australia is that it offers equal opportunity to both the practising and non-practising Catholics, and migrants are given care and support here in the Diocese. I see the Syro Malabar community is being supported enormously in their spiritual growth.

In India, the number of participants at Mass is much larger than here; we have a much greater population. In Australia, people have their roots in different countries, so when people speak the common language of English they do so with their own unique accents. Aussie slang is another challenge. This could mean that an overseas priest could take some time to be completely fluent in this colloquial English. Nevertheless, frequent interactions with the people and reading the daily newspapers should solve this issue over time.

My vision is to render my pastoral assistance in a way where the faithful feel joy with everything that concerns the church. I draw inspiration from the words of St Paul:

I can do everything in Christ who strengthens me” [Philippines 4:13].