Fr. James Narithookil, CMI, PhD (Pastor)
I was born in Elikulam, in the Catholic diocese of Pala, Kerala State, India on August 18, 1942 as the third son of the 11 children of Mathew and Annamma. The Narithookil family traces its origin to an ancient family of St. Thomas Christians of Syro-Malabar Catholic Rite.St. Thomas, one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus, came to Kerala, India in 52 AD and suffered martyrdom at Mylapore, India, in 72 AD, after establishing an apostolic church (St. Thomas Christians) in south India.
A very healthy and conducive religious and spiritual climate prevailed in my home. It was this climate that inspired me to join the Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), an indigenous religious congregation of India, founded by Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara.I completed my studies for the priesthood and was ordained a priest in 1972. I completed a Master’s degree from Aligarh Muslim University, India, on Islamic studies, in the year 1975. I then attended McGill University in Montreal, Canada and secured a doctorate in the same subject in 1981. Ever since then, I have taught in several seminaries in India and was engaged in giving formation to the students studying for priesthood. Later, I was elected the Major Superior of one of the large provinces of the CMI congregation for 6 years.
From 2002 to 2008, I was the Rector of Dharmaram College, the central seminary of the CMI Congregation in Bangalore, India. I have had the opportunity to contribute many articles in journals and magazines on Islam as well as on Christianity. As a result of my studies, I have a working knowledge in the ancient languages like Syriac (Aramaic), Latin, Arabic and Sanskrit besides other languages like English, Malayalam, Hindi and Urdu etc. I have been actively involved in Ecumenical and Interreligious dialogues, conferences and live-together prior to my arrival in Sacramento. Also, I have experience as a speaker, writer, teacher, spiritual director and counselor.
In August 2008, I began my assignment at St. Mary’s Parish and was officially installed as pastor by Bishop Jaime Soto in September. I want to tell you, my dear parishioners, how happy I am to be with you as your pastor.