23rd October, 2023 has been the long-awaited day for the Schoenstatt Fathers in India. It is the day of the first baby step and the extension of Schoenstatt mission into Telangana, another State of India. Dn. Sleeva Raj Chinthamalla, the first vocation from the State of Telangana, was ordained priest on this day.

India is a sub-continent with diverse cultures, languages, ethnic groups and life-styles. Every state of India is like a small country with its own unique nature and culture. Schoenstatt Fathers of MTA region were so far present and active in two states of India: Tamilnadu and Karnataka. The ordination of Fr. Sleeva facilitated us to extend ourselves into a new land. Indeed, we were filled with joy to hear the covenant prayer sung in a new language at the end of the ordination ceremony. The pictures of Mother Thrice Admirable and Fr. Kentenich were placed everywhere in the venue. It is promising to experience that Mother Thrice Admirable take gradually hold of this new land and we are sure that she will enable Schoenstatt to grow.

Telangana State

Telangana was formed as the 29th State of India, It came into being on the 2nd of June, 2014. The State has an area of 112,077 sq. Km. and has a population of 35,003,674 (2011 Census). It is surrounded by Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh in the North, Karnataka in the West and Andhra Pradesh in the South and East directions. It is a connecting link between south and north India.

Mission in Telangana

The capital city of Telangana is Hyderabad. The PIME missionary society of Milan was the main builder of Catholic mission of Hyderabad. Declared as a Diocese in 1886, Hyderabad flourished as a leading mission from 1920s. It was raised to the status of an Archdiocese in 1953. The Archdiocese of Hyderabad (1886) through the untiring efforts of the PIME Missionaries gave birth to the dioceses Vijayawada (1937), Warangal (1952), Nalgonda (1976), and Khammam (1988). Our newly ordained priest belongs to the diocese of Nalgonda.

Colors and cultural expressions are part of priestly ordination

Priestly Ordination

Fr. Sleeva was ordained by Most Rev. Maippan Paul, the Emeritus of Khammam Diocese, in St. Mary’s Parish Church, Ponugodu.

Surrounded by green paddy field, Ponugodu is replete with immense natural beauty. The Nagarjuna-Sagar irrigation dam stands nearby and thereby throughout the year there is cultivation in this area. 90% villagers are farmers, hardworking and loving. The Christians are minority in the village, but there is a communal unity between all religions. Hindus, Muslims and Christians are living there peacefully. Fr. Sleeva’s elder brother, Fr. Bhaskar, is a salesian priest. He is working as a missionary among the tribals in the state of Assam. Many came from Assam and they made the event more alive through their colorful tribal dresses, dancing and singing.

The priestly motto of Fr. Sleeva is “To Be a Blessing”. In his homily the bishop explained about the priestly blessing and invited everyone to be a blessing to each other. Fr. Pushpa Antonysamy, the regional superior of MTA region, Schoenstatt Fathers and students took part in the ordination. More than 600 guests attended the event.

The high moment of the day came on that evening. The natives and relatives made the newly ordained, Fr. Sleeva, seated in the decorated car and led a procession in the streets of village. There was DJ music. Young and old joined together in music and dance. There was a lot of fun and celebration around. Fr. Sleeva is the 8th priest of that village.

On the next day the newly ordained has celebrated his first mass in the same church. As the famous Chinese proverb states that ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’, so Schoenstatt has ventured its first tiny step in Telangana. A great future awaits for Schoenstatt in this new land.

MTA will triumph.