Fond farewell: Father Balaji Boyalla, SAC, to serve as rector for Gloria Dei region of Pallottine priests

North Texas Catholic
(Dec 12, 2022) Local

Fr. Boyalla gives homily

Father Balaji Boyalla, SAC, delivers the homily during Mass Dec. 10 at St. Michael Parish in Bedford. (NTC/Jayme Donahue)

BEDFORD — Father Balaji Boyalla, SAC, needs extra-large suitcases for his flight when he travels to India to assume the role of Regional Rector of the Gloria Dei Region of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, also known as Pallottine priests.

In those bags, the pastor of St. Michael Parish in Bedford will pack what he describes as an “incomprehensible” amount of love that he received during his almost 15 years in the Diocese of Fort Worth, along with encouragement and support from his parishioners, brother priests, and Bishop Michael Olson.

Fr. Boyalla was elected to lead the Gloria Dei Region, based in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. Its 43 priests serve in 11 parishes, three schools, and three orphanages in India, as well as in the dioceses of Fort Worth and Detroit, plus Canada, Italy, Germany, and South Africa.

The three-year term was not something Fr. Boyalla sought, but after the election he responded, “They trust in me, so I trust in God, and God will lead as He has planned for me.

“I firmly believe these things would not happen unless there is God’s hand. That is why I cannot say no, but I take it as my big responsibility towards my priests,” he explained.

Gloria Dei Region was created in 2020 when the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province divided due to growth in the number of Pallottine priests in India. Fr. Boyalla will be its second regional rector, and he begins his term January 6.

Globally, approximately 2,300 priests and brothers comprise 12 provinces and eight regions of Pallottines, with ministry in 45 countries.



Fr. Boyalla easily recalls the day he arrived in the Diocese of Fort Worth: August 22, 2008. Originally assigned to Holy Family Parish in Fort Worth, the priest was concerned his short stature and accent might brand him an outsider.

His two years at the parish “boosted up my spirits and encouraged me,” he said, noting that parishioners laughed at his jokes even when he suspected they might not have understood him.

Monsignor Joseph Pemberton, then pastor, instilled a practice that has become an enduring priority for Fr. Boyalla: visiting the sick and homebound.

Fr. Boyalla explained, “They have given their money; they have given their talent; they have washed the clothes of the priest; and they have cleaned the rectories … so many things. But when they don’t get anyone to see them, they feel very lonely … That is the greatest gift that you can give to people is visiting the sick, giving Communion, giving the sacraments.”

When he began an eight-year assignment in 2010 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Mineral Wells and St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Graford, “They just embraced me with welcoming hands. Such a wonderful experience.”

He met personally with each family at the parishes, and he said he would have been content to stay even longer than Father John Nagle, who served as pastor there for 40 years.

During his years in Mineral Wells, he oversaw the construction of a new church hall, named for St. Vincent Pallotti, and a Marian prayer garden.

In 2018, he experienced a little trepidation when he was appointed pastor of St. Michael Parish in Bedford. “How would I manage such a big parish?” he wondered. Again, he experienced an “outpouring of love,” and he credited an excellent staff with running the day-to-day activities of the vibrant parish.

At each location, building a spiritually strong community took precedence for Fr. Boyalla. Visiting the sick and encouraging religious vocations were also significant.


Father Balaji receives flowers as a farewell gift during Mass December 10 at St. Michael Parish. (NTC/Jayme Donahue)


His years in North Texas helped prepare Fr. Boyalla for his new role, he said. He has “grown into a mature priest” and learned qualities of leadership from former Bishop Kevin Vann, Bishop Olson, and his priest mentors.

He especially appreciates the trust Bishop Olson placed in him by appointing him dean of the 11 parishes in the Southwest Deanery and by naming him pastor of St. Michael.

“His trust made me more responsible,” said Fr. Boyalla, who was ordained a priest in 1999.

When Fr. Boyalla assumes the leadership role, his priority will be ensuring “all priests are happy in their vocation and ministry.”

Most priests in the Gloria Dei Region are young, and he wants to mentor them to “become good leaders, good spiritual leaders. To find true contentment in their vocation and priestly ministry.”

He plans to listen, to understand, and to guide them “with a heart of compassion and kindness.” In doing so, he said, he will also learn from them.

Father Vijaya Mareedu, SAC, pastor of St. John Parish in Strawn, St. Francis Xavier Parish in Eastland, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish in Cisco, and St. Rita Parish in Ranger has experienced Fr. Boyalla’s leadership firsthand.

When Fr. Mareedu, also from the Gloria Dei Region, arrived in the diocese in 2018, Fr. Boyalla served as a guide to navigate the culture shock of 9,000 miles.

The “small dynamite,” according to Fr. Mareedu, was a role model on how to build community, plus a caring friend — qualities that will make him a good regional leader. “He reaches each individual, understands each individual, and gives time to the other. He sees the good in each person and brings out their talents.”

Fr. Boyalla stated other objectives during his term will be to ensure that priests, parishes, and ministries have adequate resources; to encourage vocations; and to help the region’s approximately 40 seminarians become good priests.

Fr. Boyalla observed that current culture has more opportunities and enticements to distract or derail young people from discerning a religious vocation. “The world is so attractive, which can easily lead them away from spiritual life. That really pulls us away, and sometimes won’t allow us to see the greater reward in being a priest,” he said.

As for Fr. Boyalla, he is “very happy to be a priest,” and added, “Only a happy priest can make parishes happy.”



On December 10-11, parishioners at St. Michael shared their well wishes with Fr. Boyalla as he celebrates all the weekend Masses. The Pallottine priests will gather at St. John in Strawn on December 17 to celebrate Mass with their brother priest before he goes to India.

Fr. Boyalla became a U.S. citizen in 2019, and he hopes to return to the Diocese of Fort Worth when his term (which could be extended an additional three years) ends. “I hope, if it is God’s will, I would like to come back after finishing my term,” he said.

In the meantime, he departs with a heart full of love and gratitude. He said, “I want to first of all thank God for the opportunity to be part of the diocese and different parishes, and to be part of the lives of so many parishioners and friends.”

And to those parishioners and friends, “I don’t know how I can really thank them for their love. I never experienced such a kind of love in my life. I did not know I touched so many people in so many ways.

“My prayers will be always there for the diocese, which includes all the parishes,” he said.

Fr. Boyalla mentioned four ways that the faithful of the diocese can support him in his new role: prayer for his leadership, encouragement of local Pallottine priests, financial resources for Gloria Dei Region’s missions in India ( has a donation link), and prayer for the region’s mission work.

Pallottine, Society of the Catholic Apostolate, St. Michael Church, St. Michael Parish, Father Balaji Boyalla, trending-english