Father Michael Jeeva Antony, administrator of St. Peter Parish in Eugene, is the Archdiocese of Portland’s newest priest, incardinated March 1.
He actually first came to the archdiocese from India in 2011, serving as parochial vicar at St. Mark Parish in Eugene until October 2012.
Father Antony, who was ordained for the Society of the St. Francis Xavier Missionaries, had heard about Oregon from Father Peter Fernandes, also a Xavierian Missionary priest, who served at St. Mary Cathedral and St. Cecilia in Beaverton. Father Fernandes, who remains a Xavierian Missionary, is now pastor of St. Timothy Parish in Chicago.
Father Antony’s first impressions of Oregon were being cold and lost. Considering that his previous assignment had been in the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, India — Goa being known as the Hawaii of India — winter in the Northwest wasn’t easy. He soon came to believe that God called him to work here, however, and Father Antony left Oregon in 2012 in order to return to India to ask for release from his vows as a missionary so he could become an Archdiocese of Portland priest.
Father Antony’s superiors granted him that permission and he resumed his priestly duties in Oregon in January 2014, serving as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart in Medford.
Father Antony was born in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. He was ordained a priest for the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier May 22, 1999, in Vadasery, India, which is at the southernmost part of that southernmost state.
He was then transferred to work as a parochial vicar in the Diocese of Simdega, in the state of Jharkhand, 1,400 miles northeast of his home.
He then worked as a parochial vicar and pastor in the Diocese of Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal.
Father Antony’s next assignment was as a vocations director and minor seminary director in the Diocese of Chingleput, on the east coast of India, and then as pre-novitiate director and orphanage assistant director in the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman on India’s west coast.
India is a kaleidoscope of languages, cultures and religions, so these different assignments brought him into contact with a variety of peoples.
In June 2014, Father Antony was named administrator of both St. Peter and St. Mark parishes in Eugene.
He told parishioners it was a dream come true to return to Eugene. “It felt great to know that God still finds me fit to serve these two parishes,” he told an interviewer for the St. Peter Parish website. “It was like coming back home.”
He also shared with his parish interviewer that while learning Spanish has been difficult, “something tells me ‘you can do it.’”