VERNAL — Father Anil Kumar Kakumanu, a native of Suryapet, India who was ordained for the Diocese of Nalgonda, is now ministering to the faithful in Vernal.
“From childhood onwards I had aspirations to serve God, to become a priest,” said Fr. Kakumanu, whose forefathers “have been following Christ for many centuries.”
He became an altar boy because he desired to read the Word of God.
“I love the Mass very much – the homily, the breaking of bread,” he said. “I love that. You cannot explain the mystery of that, the beauty of that.”
After hearing the call to priesthood, he never wavered. He entered the seminary as soon as he could. While there, he and other seminarians would go to outlying villages on the weekends to evangelize, sometimes bicycling 20 miles each way for their ministry. In the villages they told the Gospel stories, parables, sang songs and danced “portraying the values of the Gospel,” he said. “We were giving them the taste of the love of Christ from Catholics.”
He was ordained a priest on April 28, 2012 by the Most Rev. Govindu Joji, D.D. for the Diocese of Nalgonda. While serving as a diocesan priest, he undertook postgraduate studies at Acharya Nagarjuna University in Guntur and Mahatma Gandhi University in Nalgonda. At one point he was pastor of 10 mission stations, but said he cherishes doing ministry because Jesus always tells him to say “yes” when asked, and “anything you do in this world, if you don’t have Jesus, then it is useless.”
After almost six years as a pastor, he requested and received permission for an assignment outside his diocese. Father Showri Kalva, administrator of St. James the Greater Parish in Vernal, recommended him to Msgr. Colin F. Bircumshaw, vicar general of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, “and Msgr. Bircumshaw was good enough to accept my request,” Fr. Kakumanu said.
Fr. Kalva originally is from the same diocese as Fr. Kakumanu, and the two had met before the younger priest was ordained.
Fr. Kakumanu arrived in Salt Lake City on July 26, and has been living in the rectory at St. James the Greater Parish while procuring a driver’s license.
Fr. Kakumanu, who speaks English, Spanish, Telugu and Hindi, is celebrating Mass in Spanish at the Vernal parish.
“If you know the Spanish you can serve one more community, too. That’s why I said, ‘It’s a God-given opportunity. I’m ready to serve them; to do the ministry I’m willing to learn any language,’” he said. “God provides the wisdom.”
He loves the Mass because through it he gives Jesus to people, he said.
“You are bringing Jesus from heaven to the earth,” he said. “How privileged you are. Nobody [other than a priest] can do that; not even the president of the United States can do that! The richest person in the world cannot do that.”
A strong prayer life is necessary for all Catholics, he said, pointing out how often St. Paul, in his letters, speaks of praying without ceasing.
“Everything is from prayer,” he said, and related a story from an Indian poet about a master who tells his disciple to dig a hole at the water’s edge. The hole fills with undrinkable muddy water. The master tells the disciple to wait an hour. During the time, the mud settles, and the water becomes drinkable.
“Problems are like that,” Fr. Kakumanu said. “The problems come to you and you get shaken,” but “once you are strongly rooted in prayer, you are never shaken.”
In his spare time, he likes to read and also likes to play all sports, from soccer to table tennis, he said.