I am Fr. Tomy Manjaly, the youngest in a family of seven children. I have five brothers and one sister. My sister is a nun who has been ministering to the seniors and the mentally challenged people in Bethlehem, Israel for the past 31 years. I was born and brought up in the province of Kerala, South India. Both of my parents have passed away; may they attain eternal life.
When I was in grade three, I was taught by a nun who asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I said that I wanted to be a priest, and she asked me to read aloud, to test me on whether I would be qualified for the priesthood. That was the first seed of a vocation planted in me. After grade ten, I joined the minor seminary, with a view to becoming a priest, for the Diocese of Imphal, Manipur, one of the northeastern states in India. I was a part of the first group of seminarians selected for that Diocese. I have had the grace to be blessed by St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I met St. Teresa before my ordination, when I was studying theology in Calcutta.
I was ordained at the age of 30 on April 9, 1994. I served for seven years in Manipur as an Associate Parish Priest, Pastor and school administrator of a school with 2,300 students.
On February 2, 2001, the most tragic and miraculous incident of my life took place. I was shot by a rebel group which was fighting against the Indian army for the separation of Manipur from the Indian federation. They demanded money from our churches to buy weapons. First of all, we hardly had enough money to pay our teachers. Secondly, the money was being demanded to purchase weapons to fight and kill others, which was against our Christian principles. When the churches denied them money, the rebels shot and killed five priests over a series of days and I was shot in the back on February 2, 2001. The bullet passed through my stomach, severely injuring an artery, my kidneys, colon and intestines.
As I fell on the ground after the first shot, I called out the mighty name of Lord Jesus, and God come to my aid. I cried aloud twice, “Jesus, save me!” and the second shot didn’t go through me, for the gun the rebel was using, jammed. That is when the first miracle took place. I was declared dead according to the TV news and my parents in South India watched the report in horror and sorrow.
I was taken to a private Catholic hospital by some of the people and the Associate Priest who had witnessed the incident. The hospital didn’t have enough money to pay the doctors and didn’t usually have a surgeon. But, it happened that on that day, there was a surgeon who had been hired for a two-week term. The table was set for another surgery, and I was blessed to be operated on immediately. The surgery was another miracle. Since my artery was torn, I was in need of a lot of blood. Twenty one units of blood were given to me by the people who gathered there, after hearing the news of the gun shot. Another miracle then took place. There was no blood bank nearby, but seven more doctors came to my aid from the other hospitals to give blood. After ten hours of surgery, and two days’ recovery I was able to breathe on my own. I had to have two more surgeries over the following two years, and it was during this time that I was called by Bishop Henry to serve in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary. I thank God for bringing me to this beautiful and peaceful land of Canada.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
I arrived in Calgary on September 19, 2003. Since then I have served as an Associate Priest at St. Mark’s Church and Sacred Heart Church in Calgary, and at St. Patrick’s Church in Medicine Hat. I have also served as the Pastor in Coaldale and Picture Butte parishes, as well as St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Calgary, Holy Trinity Church in Cluny, and St. Patrick’s Church in Medicine Hat. I thank God for giving me another opportunity to serve Him and the people of God at Sacred Heart Church in Strathmore, starting in August 2020.
I greatly appreciate all of my parishioners, volunteers, friends, deacons and the office staff of our parish, who have made me feel welcome. Although we do not have a church building, we are grateful to Christ the Redeemer School Division for providing us a space for our worship. Please pray and help us build our beautiful church, dedicated to Our Lord's Sacred Heart, where we will have more space for worship and gathering.
May God bless you all, and may He guide your endeavours in building the Body of Christ and the Church. May St. John Paul II intercede for us.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers