New Jersey: It was during his college days that Antony Pullukatt Xavier recognized his mission in life. Antony got his ‘call’ from Jesus Christ when he was studying for his pre-degree course at St. Berchmans College in Changanassery. When Antony conditioned his mind and life to take up the mission, a hardworking and lovable priest was born to lead the Christians through the Holy path of Jesus Christ.
Thus was the beginning of Father Antony Pullukat, who had conquered the minds of the faithful with his simplicity, humility, and zeal for service. As Fr. Antony Pullukatt, who is fondly known as Tony Achen, is celebrating the silver jubilee of his priestly life, hundreds of parishioners from Somerset St. Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Forane Church in Somerset New Jersey shower prayers on him.
Antony Xavier was born on November 7, 1970, as the sixth of eight children of Xavier and Mariamma, of the Pullukkatt family in Cheeranchira near Changanassery. The Pullukkat family belonged to the St. Joseph Syro Malabar Parish of Veroor and always worked closely with the church since they were firm believers in God. The devotion and faith of his family greatly influenced Antony at a young age and so as he grew up, he became involved in Mission League and Sunday School activities. For him, it is a fond memory that he got an opportunity to teach for the first time as the substitute of a Grade 3 teacher when he was in Grade 9.
After completing his primary education at St. Mary’s LP School, Veroor, he joined SB College in Changanassery for a pre-degree course. This was the turning point in his life. Realizing that priesthood is his mission in life, Antony joined St. Thomas Minor Seminary in Kurichy in 1988 and began his theological studies. Later, he joined the Ruhalaya Seminary in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, and completed his theological studies. After receiving a significant part of theological training from Ruhalaya Seminary, Fr. Antony took graduation in English, Hindi, and Philosophy from Vikram University, Ujjain. He also completed his Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Ruhalaya Major Seminary. He continued his studies and before returning to Kerala, he took a Bachelor’s degree in Theology from St. Ephrem’s Theological College, Satna.
Tony Achen, who was ordained a priest on April 14, 1998, by Bishop Mar Joseph Powthil of the Archdiocese of Changanassery, was first appointed as an assistant vicar at St. Mary’s Church, Changanassery (the famous Parel Church). After working as assistant vicar at Kurumbanadam St. Antony’s Church (1999-2000) and Thottakkad St. George’s Church, he was first assigned as a vicar at St. Joseph’s Church, Kandankary in Alappuzha district. He later served as the Vicar of Lourdes Matha Church in Mampuzhakary.
While working as Assistant Director of the ATMATA Centre under the Archdiocese, Fr. Antony was sent to the United States for spiritual services. Fr. Antony began his pastoral services in 2008 as assistant vicar of the Mobile Archdiocese of Alabama, USA. After serving as Vicar of St. Mary’s Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Pearland, Texas, under the Syro-Malabar Diocese of Chicago, he left for Boston with a new assignment.
Father Antony Pullukattu, who became the Vicar of St. Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Boston on February 5, 2017, quickly became the beloved Tony Achen of the parish. He greeted everyone in front of him with a smile and won the love and respect of the parishioners in a short period of time. He remained a blessed presence to all the parishioners. Achen’s leadership was best known to the parishioners during the outbreak Covid 19 pandemic. As the world socially distanced itself from each other, Tony Achen became more and more close to his believers.
When Massachusetts entered the lockdown on March 12, he encouraged believers by performing the Mass live streaming within 12 days. The SMCB Times, a digital magazine, started to promote the talents of the parishioners in religion, literature, and art.
On November 28, 2020, he was appointed Vicar of St. Thomas Syro Malabar Forona, Somerset, New Jersey. While leading a dedicated service at Somerset Parish Church, Tony Achen finds time to pass on his wealth of experience, clerical experience, knowledge of theology, and meditative thought to others in other areas.
Tony Achen is keen on maintaining the unity and glory of the Church and the zeal shown by him in fulfilling his responsibilities for the glory of God is noteworthy. The parish community always finds Tony Achen as a hardworking and busy priest. Tony Achen, who still holds in his heart the conviction that each of us is called to the great responsibility of transforming every Christian family into a Holy Family, is diligent in his efforts to lead his pastoral people to that great conviction.
As Tony Achen enters into 25 long years of priestly life, he still prepares his mind every moment to answer, “Here I am” in the hands of a mighty God like the clay in the potter’s hand (Jeremiah 18-6), the parish community wishes the best of luck to him.
On the occasion of the Jubilee, Achen will offer Thanksgiving Mass on Sunday, June 5, 2022, at 9:30 am at Somerset St. Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Forona Church. Following the Holy Mass, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Somerset will hold a congratulatory meeting at 11:30 a.m. to commemorate the Jubilee of the Priests.