Take 5 with Father: Time for God and others
HE IS: Father Vijaya Raju Mareedu, SAC, pastor of St. Rita Parish in Ranger, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish in Cisco, St. Francis Xavier Parish in Eastland, and St. John Parish in Strawn.
GROWING UP: The youngest of three, he grew up in Andhra Pradesh, India. His father, a “simple, God-fearing man,” worked as an electrician at a Montfort school, which allowed his children to have a Catholic education. His father told him, “I will not give you gold, I will not give you land, but education is the most important thing.”
THE CALL: Fr. VJ, as he’s fondly called, admitted to being more interested in playing basketball and cricket than in his studies. As a tenth-grade student, he saw crowds of people crying after the local bishop’s death and it made a big impression. He thought, “People are crying because he has done something good; there is something good in doing for the other.”
HIGHER EDUCATION: Fr. VJ entered the Pallottine seminary. “I had been weak in studies, but once I realized I need to be something for somebody, it never stopped me.”
HOLY HABITS: During his novitiate, he began spending 30 minutes a day in front of the Blessed Sacrament, a habit he continues. “You may not speak, but He will speak to you.”
ORDINATION: April 22, 2015. The young priest served in a school and as an associate pastor.
HOWDY, NEIGHBOR: When Fr. VJ came to the diocese in 2018, he contacted every family registered in his four parishes and met with them, which took about a year. “Giving time is the best thing I can give.”
LESSONS FROM A PALLOTTINE: “Wherever you can, respond to the need of the time with the help of God. Do the best we can in the place where we are, in the time we are in.”
MERCY OF GOD: “Whenever people come for confession, I give the presence of Christ, with great attention, with great love, which springs from the Word of God.”