Skip to comments.From Krishna to Christ: The Conversion Testimony of Father Jay Kythe
Posted on 01/26/2010 10:25:11 AM PST by NYer
Hello! My name is Father Jay Kythe. I am the pastor of the Church of St. Pius V in Cannon Falls and St. Joseph’s in Miesville. I wanted to tell you a little about myself.
I was born in 1969 in New Orleans to parents from India. They arrived two years before I was born, desiring a better life for their family. My father came to become a professor of mathematics at the University of New Orleans, and my mother is a stay-at-home mom. I have one older brother, who is now married and lives near Los Angeles. They wanted to go back, but I came along into the world, and they changed their minds. I grew up in New Orleans, speaking Hindi at home and English everywhere else.
I am a convert to the Catholic faith. Perhaps you’ve seen me tell my conversion story on EWTN on The Journey Home television show (January, 2004)? In a nutshell, I was raised in a Hindu household in New Orleans, but when I left for college to Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, I found myself in extreme darkness. It was a difficult transition for me, entering a college world where drugs, sex, and alcohol were rampant. I met many confused and lonely people, and I felt confused and lonely as well. During that time, I contemplated suicide as I became more and more depressed, mostly because I discovered the reality of the world having values so completely opposite those instilled into me by my parents. The world treated these values as “old fashioned,” and I was supposed to be part of something progressive and new. But then God intervened in my life. I became good friends with a Catholic at IU. I was attracted to his joy and peace that he had while living and working in this crazy, mixed up world. I discovered his joy and peace came from his faith. So one day I asked him if I could go to Mass with him, and it was there that I had a powerful experience of God. I felt God’s love outpoured over me! I’ve been to other church services of other denominations, but I never felt God’s love as I did then. At that time I couldn’t understand what the Mass was about, but I just knew that I had to keep coming back! Since then I have had a strong devotion to the Holy Mass and the Eucharist. In fact, when I was discerning for the priesthood, I wanted to give back to the Church what God gave me: the very body and blood of His son Jesus Christ. What a marvelous gift! In any case, I entered the Church on the Easter Vigil of 1990, when I was baptized, confirmed, and received my first Holy Communion! I will never forget it.
After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics, I decided to go to Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio for three years to get a Master’s in Philosophy and to learn more about the Catholic faith. That college experience was radically different from IU. At Franciscan University, I met many young Catholics who wanted nothing more than to live their faith. There I help to start a household for men who were older than your typical college student and living off campus and who wanted to discern becoming priests or religious brothers. We named our household Electi Mariae ( Chosen of Mary). One of my household brothers from West Saint Paul introduced me to Minnesota and to a wonderful community of priests called the Companions of Christ. That brought me to Minnesota. Living and discerning with them has brought me to deeper holiness. After my first year of discernment with the Companions of Christ, when I was their cook and housekeeper as well as an adjunct professor in the philosophy department at the University of Saint Thomas, I decided to stay and enter the seminary. In the middle of my five years seminary studies at the Saint Paul Seminary, I did a nine month parish internship in Faribault, MN, and to my surprise, I was assigned there after ordination. My most joyful moments in seminary were in my third year when I had the privilege of going to and living in Jerusalem for three and a half months! It was a powerful experience of learning about other cultures in a volatile place of the world. In fact, the second antefada (Palestinian uprising) began in our second month of our stay. That experience gave me a profound love for the Holy Land and for all the peoples who live and struggle there.
I was ordained on May 25, 2002, and I became an associate pastor at Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Faribault for three years. They were three years of learning about priestly life and service to the People of God. Now I have received a tremendous gift to become a pastor, not only of one parish but two! I am delighted and overwhelmed to serve the people of God at Saint Pius V in Cannon Falls and at St. Joseph in Miesville.
Some of you may be wondering what my family thought of all this. It was certainly a shock to them, but over time they have come to accept my life changes, and they even support me in their own way. They have come and visited me several times this past year, and I have had the pleasure of showing my parents these two beautiful churches that God has given me to shepherd. I had the privilege of serving them in the terrible year of 2005 when the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina destroyed our family home in New Orleans. My parents lived with me in Cannon Falls for a few months and with my brother and his family in California. Currently they are considering relocating permanently to Minnesota to be close to me and cleaning up and selling our house in New Orleans.
I would like to share with you about this community to which I belong. The Companions of Christ are a fraternity of diocesan priests who live in households where they pray together, share meals, and share a rich fellowship together. Then they commute to their assignments. I belong to the household in Faribault, and I commute to Cannon Falls and Miesville. I realize that it isn’t ideal for a pastor not to live with his people, but I will do my very best to be available. I must also honor my commitments to my community, which I find so life giving. I do plan to live nearby, either in Cannon Falls or in New Trier (with my friend and colleague, Fr. Joseph Williams), part of the week. Please pray for me that I don’t hit any deer or get delayed in my commute.
I love being a priest! I love celebrating the sacraments, especially the Mass. I believe that the Sunday Mass is the very center of the parish life, the “source and summit of the Christian life,” as the Second Vatican Council expressed. We are nourished there, and we return there on our knees. I am committed to celebrating Sunday well, so that all of you may be truly nourished to live your Christian life faithfully and courageously. I also have a passion for young people. The youth are extremely important and must be taught well to pray and live noble lives of prayer and service. In addition, I love visiting people and doing house blessings (in return for a meal or snack). I love teaching and answering questions about the faith.
I am also a board member for an organization called Courage/Faith in Action, which is a Catholic outreach to men and women who deal with same sex attraction and who wish to live chaste lives in accordance with Church teaching. My ministry to these men and women has helped me meet some of the holiest men and women I could imagine, carrying an oftentimes lonely and difficult cross.
My hobbies include reading everything written by J.R.R. Tolkien, basketball, hiking, cooking and eating meals with good friends (especially Indian food), and creative writing. I hope to publish some books sometime, fiction and nonfiction. My life includes loving my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, my adorable nephew and niece, as well as my beautiful goddaughter, the daughter of my best friend from Indiana with whom I went to Mass for the first time in my life. Her family and other various friends, plus the generous parishioners of Cannon Falls and Miesville have made me into a happy and joyful priest in service of Jesus Christ.
Great story. He sounds like a good and holy Priest. We need more like him.
Thanks for this wonderful story.
Bobby Jindal is another Indian ethnic from Louisiana who converted from Hindi to Catholicism.
Very inspiring story. Although it would be nice to know to the extent if any of his studies of the ancient Hindu texts and what he found. But then again, in essence, it’s the story repeated down through the ages of prominent atheists, inventors, discovers, philosophers, astronomers, scientists, writers, essayists, painters, sculptors, artists; prime ministers and presidents; and adherents of every religious and ethnic stripe under the planet who have converted to Catholicism especially after serious inquiry and reflection. Bobby Jindal and Newt Gingrich are only the latest among well-known US politicians and academics.
Good luck. Might we have your guess on what you think the Tasmanian Devil did in a prior life to be so-reincarnated?
what i love is that he is so filled with POSITIVE love for Christ, he doesn’t even think of denigrating his previous Hinduism — he just says he was filled with the Spirit and chose Christ. A beautiful, POSITIVE message for converts.