Father Joji Thangundla shared a hopeful message to start the Lenten season this Ash Wednesday inspired by his recent and long awaited visit home to see his mother and family in India. As I was leaving the service, I said hello to Father Joji and asked him about his trip. He was beaming as he shared the story of having seen his mom. Father Joji said he had some anxiety about traveling to see her during this time but he’s been back in Barrington for several weeks and the excitement hasn’t worn off. His face was masked but I could see in his eyes the joy he felt for having made the trip home.
Father Joji also talked about his trip home during Wednesday’s service. Home, to Fr. Joji, is Hyderabad, South India, the fourth-most populous city in India with 6.9 million residents within the city limits. Fr. Joji says many of the professionals from his home are in the IT industry and he says, it occurred to him, that he is also in IT.
Not “Information & Technology”, as it is most commonly known, but “Information & TRANSFORMATION”. Fr. Joji encouraged us to follow a path toward transformation this Lenten season by finding ways to give, pray and fast without seeking recognition or reward. “There is so much goodness and love at home and in the community and in the world,” Father Joji says. “I see it here in Barrington and I see it everywhere.”
After finishing high school, Fr. Joji studied Philosophy in college and went on to study Theology in Bangalore and also holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Sociology. He was ordained a priest in 1994, worked for three years in Hyderabad and was then sent by his Archbishop to the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1997. Since then he has served at Immaculate Heart of Mary in the city, St. Gerald’s in Oak Lawn, St. James in Arlington Heights and is now at Saint Anne in Barrington.
Fr. Joji comes from a family of six children, two girls and four boys. One of his brothers is also a priest (Fr. Jerome working in India). Having worked in Chicago for almost 20 years Fr. Joji has gained much experience of Chicago Church. He is passionate about pastoral ministry by being available and personally connected to the community. He enjoys being with people and attending all activities in the parish. He loves to walk in the school to meet and greet children and teachers. He is always ready to minister to the people by celebrating the sacraments and visiting the sick. He also enjoys sports and he is a good soccer, volleyball, ping-pong and bean bag player.
Father Joji’s mission is to work, build and be a part of a strong Catholic community which includes learning from the community and sharing his gifts and talents. He says he likes to “bloom where he is planted” and I’m tempted to write his mom in India a letter to thank her for the energy he brings to the Barrington community every day. His wisdom seems to come from a place of great calm and contemplation. We appreciate how he’s calling us to consider how we might be transformed during these weeks leading up to Easter.
Saint Anne Catholic Community serves many and welcomes all with over 3,500 families who call Saint Anne in Barrington their spiritual home. One of the largest parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago, you’ll find Saint Anne church at 120 N. Ela Street in Barrington, Illinois. Learn more about the parish at StAnneBarrington.org.