Take 5 with Father: Joyful missionary finds love everywhere

by Susan Moses

North Texas Catholic

Fr. Balaji Boyalla, SAC. (NTC photo/Susan Moses)

HE IS: Father Balaji Boyalla, SAC, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Mineral Wells and St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Graford. He is also dean of the Southwest Deanery.

A Pallottine priest from the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province, he was ordained on April 18, 1999 in Vijayawada, India.

He has also served at Holy Family Parish in Fort Worth, pastored a church in India, and taught at a Pallottine seminary.

KNOWN AS: Fr. B. Shortly after arriving at Holy Family in 2008, Msgr. Joseph Pemberton heard varied pronunciations of Fr. Boyalla’s name and declared, “You will be called ‘Father B.’”

THE CALL: Growing up in a Catholic family in southeast India, Fr. B. was inspired by his church’s pastor. A large man, he made a big impression. He carried children into church on his arms, he rode a motorcycle, and he made parables come alive.

ENTERING SEMINARY: After completing high school, his cousin entered the Pallottine seminary and invited Fr. B. to join him. His cousin left after a week.

AND LEAVING IT: While in his novitiate “spiritual” year, his father was diagnosed with lung cancer. “My father’s last desire was for me to be with him.” Fr. B. left seminary to care for him, telling his superior that he would not return. The day of his father’s death, Fr. B.’s vocation promoter happened to stop by to check on the family.

“God worked it out to be like that. God’s hand was so powerful, I couldn’t miss it. If God wants a person, you cannot run away from Him. He will not leave you.” With his family’s consent, Fr. B. returned to seminary.

AND STAYING: After finally completing 13 years of formation, Fr. B. was eager to work in a parish. His provincial told him, “Sorry, you’re appointed as the seminary prefect.” Fr. B. thought, “Apparently 13 years was not enough!” In his second and final year as a seminary instructor, he coordinated vocation promotion and established a small parish, where he involved the seminarians in youth programs, prayer services, and parish activities.

AND GOING: After Fr. B. served seven years as pastor of St. Vincent Pallotti Parish in Amaravathi, India, his provincial asked him to fill a request for a priest in the Diocese of Fort Worth.  Fr. B. was fearful. “I worried about whether I would fit in: my size, my accent. But when there is love, there is no height, no weight, no color, no accent, and they love me.”

BEST THING ABOUT BEING A PRIEST: “Being present when you are most needed. Visiting the sick and homebound — some of these people were the cornerstone of the Church. When you go there, they are very happy to see a priest, and it gives you contentment to be a priest.”

His favorite experiences include expanding the orphanage in the Amaravathi parish from 20 children to 100. He also served on the provincial council, helping with leadership and mentoring young seminarians and priests.


ON BEING A PALLOTTINE PRIEST: “St. Vincent Pallotti broke barriers between the Church and the people. He wanted to make the laity active. He taught that everyone is called to be an apostle by virtue of their baptism.”

HIS GOAL: “Wherever I go, I want a joyful parish, an inviting parish, a prayerful parish.”

Take 5 with Father Balaji Boyalla, SAC, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Mineral Wells and St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Graford. He is also dean of the Southwest Deanery.