Fr. Antony Pappu Chakkalakkal, priest chaplain, shares about his Indian heritage and what Asian American Pacific Islander Month means to him.
Fr. Chakkalakkal began as a priest sacramental chaplain at St. Dominic Hospital in July 2019 and became full-time priest chaplain in October 2022. He visits patients of all faiths. He also celebrates Catholic religious rituals at the hospital chapel and other St. Dominic’s facilities.
Fr. Chakkalakkal was born in India. He completed his school and seminary studies in India and came to the U.S. in March 2012 to work for the diocese of Jackson.
His favorite family tradition is having dinner with family members after the evening prayer and rosary, and his favorite cultural dish is chicken curry made with coconut milk and pancake made of rice flour, which is called Appam in local languages.
“Thanksgiving in America is similar to one of my cultural celebrations called Onam – The festival of harvest in August- September,” Fr. Chakkalakkal says. “There are some similarities but quite different from its meaning.”
The Importance of Priesthood
Serving others is an important part of a priest’s calling
“Working in the hospital as a priest chaplain is call with in the call,” Fr. Chakkalakkal says. “I had an opportunity to work with Mother Teresa’s sisters in my seminary life. It also influenced me to be a hospital chaplain. When doctors and nurses manage physical pain, chaplain manages spiritual pain, spiritual distress and spiritual struggles. Serving others in the hospital is serving Jesus. I am called to work in the midst of people, especially among the most in need.”
Appreciating Each Other’s Differences
Fr. Chakkalakkal shares how the word diversity can be found everywhere. In the church, college campuses, workplaces and other fields of our life. He adds how we are living in a global world where we are interconnected to each other. Recognizing and appreciating each other’s differences creates a healthy environment. It gives better understanding about the world. He concludes by sharing how it also helps us to reduce discrimination among people and foster a sense of belonging for all members of society.
“When I was a schoolboy, our teachers always taught us about unity in diversity by respecting and valuing different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds a nation becomes stronger and more vibrant,” he says.
Our DEI Commitment
Our ministry’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion supports culturally competent care education for our team members all year long, including during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month each May.