Fr Vinod Kanatt blessing an elderly at her home
By Nirmala Carvalho
Sep 11 2020
“The lockdown has helped me get more involved with families. It helped me get closer to the parish community,” says Fr Vinod Kanatt. “I help in any way I can, including with the hospitalisation of patients. People feel very comforted and safe in the parish community.”
MUMBAI – Father Vinod Kanatt CMI[*] is parish priest at St Ann’s Catholic Church in Rajokt, Gujarat, a mostly non-Christian state. He is known locally as the “cycle priest” because he rides his bicycle to visit the members of his parish.
Born in 1966 and ordained priest in December 1998, Fr Vinod has been at St Ann’s since 2008 (with a hiatus of two years in another parish), where everyone knows him, even non-Catholics. He does everything for them and then some more.
Fr Kanatt spoke to AsiaNews about ministering to his parishioners in the age of the pandemic.
“In St Ann’s parish, we have 65 families, lower to middle class. Jesus walked and proclaimed the Good News; I go by bicycle to meet people. By riding a bicycle, I can talk to people along the way. They are very ordinary people. Jesus preached to the oppressed and the marginalised. We are followers of that Jesus.
“During COVID, it was impossible to come to the parish priest during the first two lockdowns because of curfew restrictions. I started visiting parish families starting on Easter Sunday, to bring the Easter blessing to the families.
“I went to visit all the families. Every day I visited from six to seven families bringing the communion. In each house I did the penitential service and then I gave the communion.
“I visit every family at least three times a month. We didn’t have many coronavirus cases in Junagath until June. When the number of cases started to rise.” At that point, “I stopped going to families. But when they called me, I went.
“I’d like to go every week to give communion to the sick and the elderly of the parish and to interact with them for about an hour. I’d take a disinfectant with me, wear the mask and take every precaution.
“The Church is open every day. I will give the communion to anyone who comes to the church. People usually come to church on Sundays, so on Sundays I make myself available at any time of day.
“As a priest, I have to touch the wounds of Jesus, both spiritually and physically; for example: in my parish, we have a family (pictures 2 and 3) in which the husband receives a monthly pension of only Rs. 2,500 (about US$ 35) per month. They have two mentally disabled sons; one is 29 and the other is 31. One is completely bedridden and the other can crawl.
“The wife suffered spinal injury three years ago and now she can’t do anything. I go to their house two or three times a week. I take them to the hospital when one of them is sick. Whatever is needed, I try to provide it, including food occasionally. I also help them with money when needed.
“The lockdown has helped me get more involved with families. It helped me get closer to the parish community. People are now so close to me that when someone is sick, I am informed. I help in any way I can, including with the hospitalisation of patients. People feel very comforted and safe in the parish community.
Father Vinod is also appreciated by his fellow clergymen. For them, “Fr Vinod has infused a new vitality in St Ann’s parish; he has changed the style of parish work. It is woven into the whole of their social life.
“The personal touch remains the key to his success. He is a pastor who knows his flock. Family visits, monthly dinner meetings and student ministry are some of the creative ways by which Father Vinod has built the parish community and a sense of fellowship. He also keeps in touch with parishioners who have emigrated elsewhere.” – Asia News