Father Rayappa Starts Ministry at St. Augustine

Bob Blindauer
Staff Writer

One of the newest members of the Minster community originates from the town of Thatchoor in the state of Tamil Nadu in his native India. How Father Frankline Rayappa came here to Minster is a story of service and the following of his calling to become  a priest dedicated to serving Jesus wherever that might lead him. Which today means he has been called by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood to minister to the flock of parishioners here in the St. Augustine/St. Joseph cluster.

His first impression of his new assignment: “When I saw the beautiful structure of the church I was really taken up and I really think that my superiors have given me a big parish and have trust in me.”

He noted there are 65 priests from his hometown and he is the 50th. Sitting down with him for a brief discussion, one gets the sense of a man who is fiercely true to live out the vocation to which he has been called. “It’s most important to build the Church, the Kingdom of God here on this earth,” he says.

To gain greater understanding of his background, here is the C.PP.S. Cincinnati Province Newsletter article by Jean Giesige, published in June, 2016:

Fr. Frankline Fernando Rayappa said he went to morning Mass nearly every day when he was growing up in southern India. If he tried to sleep in, he had a unique alarm clock. “My grandmother poured water on me,” he said.

 Fr. Rayappa gave a presentation on his life, his native country and his culture on May 18 at St. Charles Center in Carthagena, where he participated in an acculturation workshop led by Sr. Katie Pierce, IHM. Fr. Rayappa is in ministry at St. Edward Church in Newark, Calif.

Fr. Rayappa (his surname means Peter) is a native of Tamil Nadu, one of India’s 29 states, each with its own language. Most Indians speak at least two languages, he said: “Your first language is your mother tongue (the language of the state where you were born and raised). Your second language is English.” Fr. Rayappa speaks six languages, and is considering learning Spanish.

Catholics are very much a minority in India, making up only two percent of the population. His Catholic family sent him to Catholic school when he was a boy. He got to know the Congregation when a Missionary of the Precious Blood visited his village, and that confirmed something that he had known for a long time: he wanted to be a priest.

Fr. Rayappa was ordained in 2007 in India after seven years of formation in the C.PP.S. seminary there. He was sent to minister in northern India, where he discovered a very different culture. He was then assigned to ministry in Karnataka, where he spent six years as a pastor and school principal. He has also been the director of a retreat center.

Indian culture can be difficult to navigate, with its many different languages, customs and religions, he said. But people who are born there grow up with an innate sense of knowing another’s place of birth. “By looking at faces, we can tell what state a person is coming from,” he said. “Something about their facial structure tells us.”

At St. Edward, he is settling into a busy, urban parish with where many ethnic groups are represented. “I am enjoying ministry at St. Edward. It’s a mixed community and a beautiful community,” he said. He arrived there on February 24, after a year of preparation.

There, he ministers with Fr. Jayababu Nuthulapati, C.PP.S., who is the pastor, and Fr. Jim Franck, C.PP.S. He met Fr. Nuthulapati while both were in the seminary in India.

As he gets to know the people of St. Edward, they are getting to know him. People in the U.S. are more likely to hug others than in India, where a handshake is a much more common greeting. But he said he is getting used to giving and receiving hugs at the parish.

Also, to Fr. Rayappa, food in the U.S. can be rather bland. “The food is very spicy in India,” he said. “So on my birthday, the parish gave me 12 bottles of spicy sauce, and I am using it. Nine bottles are empty already.”

Here’s the list of Fr. Frankline’s previous assignments to date:

  • April 23, 2006 – Definitive Incorporation Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Bangalore, India
  • February 17, 2007  Ordained to the Priesthood Bangalore, India
  • April 2008 - May 2008 – Assistant Mission Drector, Madhya Pradesh, India
  • June 2008 – May 2014   Parish Priest of  St. Anne’s Church, Karnataka, India; Principal and Correspondent, St. Anthony’s School.  
  • June 2014 - February 2016   - Administrator of  St. Gaspar Ashram and Retreat, Karnataka.
  • February 25, 2016 to June 30, 2018 Parochial Vicar at St. Edward Church, Newark, Calif.
  • The stated charism of the C.PP.S. Society is to “bring the Word of God to where it is most needed.” And that’s where Father Frank can help meet our needs.