Meet the Friars: Fr. Sojan

by Roxanne King

Father Sojan Parappilly, O.F.M. Cap., was born on July 16, 1978, in Kochi, India. Father Sojan has several degrees and is on target for earning a master's in marketing in June at the University of Denver. He serves as a chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves, where he holds the rank of captain and lives at St. Francis of Assisi Friary in northwest Denver. His primary ministry is to inmates.

Q: When did you first feel called to religious life? Since fourth grade I have thought priesthood was my life. I remember one of the questions in mid-term catechism exam was about the future: priesthood was my answer. I don't recall why I wanted to be a priest at that time, but I had no doubt in which direction I wanted to travel.

Q: What drew you to the Capuchin Franciscan order? I studied in a Catholic school run by Carmelite sisters. They always invited vocation promoters from different congregations to our school. One day a Capuchin, Father Anil, visited our class. He spoke about St. Francis of Assisi and invited us for a one-day program. I signed up for the program and visited the Capuchin friary in Aluva, Kochi. That was my first experience with Capuchin brotherhood. After the visit, I thought that is where I should be.

Q: When did you join the Capuchins and where were you ordained to the priesthood? I joined the Capuchin order in 1994 after 10th grade. I was ordained to the priesthood in 2007 in a Capuchin friary in Kochi, Kerala.

Q: What do you most enjoy about your life as a Capuchin friar? Though my initial desire was to be a priest, after several years of life as a Capuchin I came to deeply appreciate my identity as a brother (friar). A priest reminds me of a hierarchy, but a brother is more a family and a Franciscan identity. I enjoy my community life and being with the brothers. Wherever I go, I always want to come home and be in the community.

Q: How is it that you were reared Catholic in India where Christians are a minority? Our family goes back centuries in its faith tradition. Christianity came to India in the very first century. We believe that the apostle St. Thomas was in South India and that he is the first one who spread Jesus' message there. He established churches in Kerala and brought many to Jesus. There was another wave of conversion in the 16th century with the arrival of Portuguese missionaries. Though a small state in India, there are 31 Catholic dioceses in Kerala.