In God's Hands: Take 5 with Fr. Prakash Dias, SAC
HE IS: Father Prakash Dias, SAC, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Mineral Wells and St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Graford. He was previously pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Breckenridge and Jesus of Nazareth Parish in Albany, and he has also served the tri-parish community of Bridgeport, Decatur, and Jacksboro.
RAISED: The youngest of three sons, Fr. Dias remembers the first decade of his life as “beautiful and amazing.” He lived in a clearing in the woods of Karnataka, India, where his family grew vegetables, fished, and hunted. Fr. Dias remembers using fire and drums to chase the elephants away from their crops.
The property was too remote for school, so his father taught him how to read and write. The family made a 20-mile round-trip walk to attend Mass each Sunday.
HOME AGAIN: When he was 10, the family returned to his father’s ancestral village and Fr. Dias attended a boarding school run by Catholic nuns.
The next year, his father drowned tragically. Fr. Dias remained with his mother and enrolled in the village school. “The Church became a second home to me at the time,” and he became an altar server and a leader in the children’s club.
CALLED: In the silence of frequent visits to his father’s grave, Fr. Dias questioned, “Is this all that life is about?” and felt called to the priesthood. A Pallottine priest came to his local parish to promote vocations and the pastor recommended Fr. Dias.
Fr. Dias traveled to the Pallottine seminary with just a backpack but nearly turned around when he arrived. “When I came to the seminary, everyone is talking English. ‘Hi. Hello. How are you?’ I didn't know anything of English. I said, ‘I'm leaving, I'm going back.’ And they told me, ‘Stay for a month and we'll see.’”
MISSIONARY LIFE: After his ordination on April 24, 2013, Fr. Dias taught for two years and then was assigned to serve small communities of Native Americans in Alberta, Canada. “I would always tell them I’m the real Indian,” he joked.
There, he arrived for Mass in a four-seater airplane and earned the nickname “the People’s Priest” for his friendly nature. However, after two years in Canada, he asked to be assigned someplace warmer, and he came to the Diocese of Fort Worth in 2017.
FAVORITE SACRAMENT: The anointing of the sick, because “it surely brings them healing. I’ve seen people die in peace.”
And the Eucharist: “There is nothing — no greater sacrifice or no greater form of worship than the Eucharist.”
“A very special moment for me is after Communion, because the Lord is so close to you at that time, and you are one with the Lord, and the Lord is one with you.”
HOBBIES: Fishing, singing, cooking, and spending time with his brother priests.
FAVORITE SAINT: St. Vincent Pallotti “gathered people from different walks of life, different trades, and he brought them together in one celebration. Wherever I've been, I try to see a participatory church where people do things — the priest is there to assist and animate.” At Sacred Heart of Jesus in Breckenridge, the labor for renovation of the sanctuary and altar was provided by parishioners. “I take that inspiration from St. Vincent Palotti, who worked with people. That sounds like exactly how he would've done it.
“He always prayed, may there be one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ. He always prayed for unity in the Church.”
THE TAKEAWAY: Despite the trauma of his father’s unexpected death and other ordeals in his youth, “I see God's hand in all my childhood. God was there leading me, guiding me. I'm a different person now because of those experiences that I have gone through in life. I have no bitterness in me.”
He wants his congregation to focus on “love, forgiveness, and compassion. Try to see God in everything.”