Fr. Joseph Thomas, CMI
Meet Father Joseph Thomas of the
Carmelites of Mary Immaculate
Thomas was born in the southern area of India, in the state of Kerala in 1960. He
is one of five children, having three brothers and one sister. The family's Catholic faith is steeped in
tradition and the children were all raised in the Roman Catholic faith, with
strict Catholic values being asserted by parents, teachers and clergy alike,
during their upbringing.
his traditional Catholic upbringing began to mold Joseph Thomas, the young man,
he began to plan his destiny. Upon graduation
from high school, he studied shorthand and quickly landed a job as a
stenographer. After years of work in
this profession, Joseph felt a calling to do more...to help more. He developed a real desire to do missionary
work, and so, in 1986, 26-year old Joseph Thomas entered the seminary of the
Carmelite order of Mary Immaculate.
Carmelites of Mary Immaculate were established in India
in 1831 and currently has a membership of more than 1,500 priests and 10
bishops, presiding over five dioceses in India. While still involved with evangelical work,
the order tends to caring for the poor as well as providing education and social
work for the more marginalized sections of society in particular. The Carmelites are currently involved with
ministries throughout India
twelve years, having received credit for his previous degree, Joseph Thomas,
became "Father Joseph Thomas - C.M.I." on December 30th 1998. He also earned a Bachelor of Philosophy
degree and a Bachelor of Theology degree during this period. Father Joseph's assignment, as a new priest
in the Diocese of Rajkot, was one as a social worker. However, Father Joseph had a special interest
in construction management, even though none of his formal education was
centered on engineering.
Move to the United States
June 15th 2007 Father Joseph Thomas was given an assignment of a different
sort. "...Go to the United States of America and assist with work at
Our Lady of Annunciation parish in Albuquerque,
New Mexico..." Father Joseph grew familiar with the New Mexico lifestyle and
the spiritual needs of those parishioners of Our Lady of Annunciation until, on
April 9th 2009, he was transferred once again.
This time he was to become the pastor at Saint Rose of Lima
parish in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.
This would prove to be challenging and just the type of assignment
Father Joseph would enjoy, as the assignment involved renovating the Saint Rose
of Lima church
to accommodate the needs of that parish.
And Father Joseph’s education and construction management background
proved to be a great asset to his new American parish. In a parish where the weekly collections
might be only $2,500.00, he set out to raise money. And raise money, he did! The parish of Saint Rose of Lima...that
Father Joseph calls "one big family"... under the guidance of their
new pastor was able to raise more than $550,000.00 for the renovation of their
church, a beautiful traditional stone building located on South 3rd Street in Santa Rosa.
This accomplishment clearly resonates with Father Joseph as he speaks of
his time in New Mexico.
Diocese of Knoxville
Joseph, with peace of mind that he was now forever engrained as a member of the
Saint Rose of Lima
family, received his new direction. On
June 15th 2012, he was directed to the Diocese of Knoxville under the
leadership of Bishop Richard Stika, where he was assigned to the Sacred Heart
Cathedral. Father Joseph was elated to
work in his new diocese, as there were several other priests from the
Carmelites of Mary Immaculate working in the same diocese. However, he was also experiencing some
reservations. East Tennessee was
completely different than New Mexico. But this priest, who believes strongly in and
is an advocate of the power of prayer, did what he does best...he prayed. Then in October, when he was told he would
become the new pastor at Holy Family church in Seymour, Tennessee,
he realized that this was his calling...what his prayers led him to. And even when others related that he might
lose some parishioners who chose to follow other avenues within the diocese, he
relied on prayer to answer that out.
"After praying on the subject, I have come to the realization that
we, as Catholics, should be looking towards and following Christ, and no one
else" Father Joseph related in his soft spoken voice, while sitting in his
office in the Family
Life Center. "Look at His face...not mine...both
spiritually and physically!"
We now welcome Fr. Joseph Thomas to St. Therese
of Lisieux Parish as of July 1, 2014.