• August 6, 2020

Father Bala makes West Texas home - Odessa American: Religion

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Father Bala makes West Texas home

Native of India assigned to new church at Greenwood

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Posted: Saturday, July 4, 2020 3:30 am

MIDLAND The Rev. Balachandra Nagipogu, better known as “Father Bala,” came to the U.S. five years ago and has discovered important similarities between West Texas and his native India.

Father Bala was recently assigned to leave his parochial vicarship at Holy Angels Catholic Church in San Angelo and play that role at San Miguel Arcangel Catholic Church in Midland and the new St. Rita of Cascia Church, for which funds are being raised at Greenwood.

“Although the culture is different, the people here have the same zeal for loving God and coming together to live their faith,” he said. “I will have the opportunity for a different kind of experience with the people who speak Spanish and do the Spanish Masses.

“I’m excited to be learning Spanish and be part of a new church.”

Noting that St. Rita of Cascia will part of the San Miguel Parish, Father Bala said he “grew up listening to many stories about Mother Teresa’s love for the poor and needy and how she was able, in spite of all the difficulties and humiliations, to proclaim how we can become Christ-bearers to people in need.”

The pastor at San Miguel and St. Rita is the Rev. Patrick Akpanobong.

Nagipogu came here from the Catholic Diocese of Cuddapah in the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India. He has a cousin who is a priest.

“I grew up in a village with 300 families, where I first learned to grow in faith,” he said. “We had daily Mass and I learned that the grace of salvation is not just for ourselves, it is to be shared so others can receive the grace of God for love and forgiveness.

“Jesus said to go into the whole world and proclaim the message and I want to be available to people for whatever services they need from me.”

Nagipogu said Catholicism is a family-friendly faith with great emphasis on togetherness and teaching the young. “The family is the basic element to bring up children and we need the parents to take responsibility for teaching their children to seek and keep the true Catholic faith,” he said.

“If the parents are not living the faith, they will not be able to help the children grow in their faith. The family that prays together stays together.”

Bishop Michael Sis of San Angelo said Father Bala “has a peaceful, calm personality and is respectful to everyone.

“He puts a lot of careful preparation into his sermons,” Bishop Sis said. “His delivery is quite effective, so people get a lot out of his preaching.

“He has been kind to the students and teachers at Angelo Catholic School and they will miss him very much. From little children to elderly shut-ins, they’ve found a kind, joyful man of God in Father Bala.”

Odessa, TX

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