St. Francis gives back to the community

The St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church of Brookhaven was started in 1856 and today serves about 216 Catholic families in the area. Father Alphonse Arulanandu, who is the first Indian priest in Brookhaven, leads the parish.

Arulanandu grew up Catholic in Southern India and worked as a priest in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in Northern India before coming to serve as Brookhaven’s first Indian Catholic priest.

“So far it’s a good place, with nice people,” Arulanandu said about his new home of two years.

Arulanandu said he found out about the need for a priest in Brookhaven through the Catholic Diocese of Jackson for which he works. He said he is one of nine Indian priests working through the Diocese of Jackson.

The St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church has many programs to offer its congregation and the Brookhaven community. For children from first to seventh grades, the church has a program called Faith Formation, which includes various activities for the younger children to learn about the faith. The church has a program called Life Team for older children from seventh to twelfth grade, which allows them to participate in evening mass and activities to learn about the faith. Every Wednesday they volunteer at the nursing homes of the area.

Arulanandu said the church has Bible study groups that meet every Tuesday and Thursday as well as a women’s group, Ladies of Francis, and a men’s group, Knights of Columbus. St. Francis also has a pantry that gives food every Thursday and feeds about 10 to 15 hungry families every week. The church is also involved with the boy scouts in Brookhaven and opens its facilities for use by the Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven.

“We like to have a peaceful and loving community, we don’t believe in violence,” Father Arulanandu said.

The St. Francis of Assisi Catholic church believes in the Eucharist and Holy Masses are the source and summit of Christian life. The church’s Mass schedule and more information about the church can be found at www.stfrancisbrookhaven.org.

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