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Balanced upbringing leads Fr Krish to Christ


Balancing a Buddhist and Catholic upbringing is not the typical pathway to the priesthood but it has proved to be a successful blend for newly ordained Missionaries of the Sacred Heart priest Father Krish Jon Mathavan.

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Born in Singapore, 41-year-old Fr Krish was raised a Catholic by his mother who took him to church every Sunday and as a Buddhist by his father who accompanied him to the temple and dharma classes.

“I had a very balanced religious upbringing,” Fr Krish said after his ordination by Archbishop Philip Wilson at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church, Henley Beach, where he is working as an assistant parish priest.

His proud parents Lillian and Padma and sister Shree Ann travelled from Singapore for the occasion and were joined by relatives, friends and parishioners in the packed church.

Father Chris McPhee MSC, provincial of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Australia, spoke of some of Fr Krish’s achievements including prison chaplaincy, pastoral care for Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, ministry at the Stella Maris Seafarer’s Centre in Melbourne and, by his own initiative, completing studies at the Peter MacCullum Cancer Centre.

Despite his obvious joy, Fr Krish admitted that the road to discernment was not always clear-cut and involved “the challenges of finding my identity, detachment from the material, discernment of God’s voice in the silence”.

His calling came after attending World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008 and he was prompted to leave his job as a researcher in a genetics laboratory in Singapore and attend a retreat in Sydney.

“After eight days, something wonderful happened, and I had a really deep experience of God’s love for me,” he said.

Now hoping to be “a shepherd with the smell of the sheep” and to “know, love and serve God and the people entrusted to my care”, Fr Krish urged those thinking of a vocation to the priesthood to “embrace the silence and listen for God’s voice; take the risk and fall in love – just try it out”.

“There is nothing to lose with God and all to gain,” he said.

Henley Beach Parish Pastoral Council chairperson Geraldine O’Reilly spoke of the excitement in the parish which also witnessed the ordination of Fr Carroll Martin in 2014.

“Our hearts are still glowing,” she said.

“Fr Krish has a generous heart, a playful spirit, a warm, welcoming smile. His love of Jesus strongly reflects to us his love and care for us. We feel so lucky and very blessed.”

In an emotional closing speech, Fr Krish thanked the Henley Beach community for guiding him over the past nine months and also his family and friends from across the world.

“I’ve gone to school with you, taken choir with you, studied theology with you, and just mucked around with you! But it’s not just what I’ve done with you, it’s who I am with you,” he said.

“In the end, it really is all about love. Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. Love brought you here, and love inspired me to say ‘I do’.”




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