Priest from India feels at home in EllsworthELLSWORTH — Father Nathan Thainase may call India his native land and may count Ethiopia among his past work sites, but he is no stranger to the U.S. or Wisconsin.
By: Bill Kirk, The Republican Eagle
ELLSWORTH — Father Nathan Thainase may call India his native land and may count Ethiopia among his past work sites, but he is no stranger to the U.S. or Wisconsin.
The priest, who was officially installed at St. Francis Catholic Church in Ellsworth in June, previously served another parish also in the La Crosse Diocese. Locally, he succeeds Father Roy Witucki, who was transferred to the Wausau, Wis., area.
“I hope to do the best job possible and carry on what’s been done here,” said Father Nathan, which he likes to be called.
Hailing from southern India — a place known as Tamil Nadu — he grew up in a small village. As a youth he walked three to four miles to school run by the Roman Catholic Church.
Two factors were influences on him wanting to become a priest at an early age, he said. Many priests visited his hometown and heard him sing, encouraging him toward the priesthood. Also, at the school he was under the guidance of nuns, who offered similar encouragement.
Father Nathan attended seminary in his home territory. His ordination occurred in 2003.
“I was grateful to God for calling me to serve,” he said.
Initially an associate pastor in a nearby parish, he transferred to a philosophical seminary, where he was administrator for a year. Next, it was on to Ethiopia in Africa for two-and-a-half years. He describes it as “beautiful” despite its abundance of poor people and drought-like conditions.
“I was teaching seminary and doing missions,” he said.
He returned to India before coming to the U.S. for the first time in 2008. The diocese sent him to Blair in Trempealeau County to be pastor of a parish that’s smaller than Ellsworth’s and doesn’t have a related school.
“It’s the promised land,” he said of his reaction on the first visit.
After three-and-a-half years, it was back to India, Father Nathan said, with some promise of heading to the U.S. in the future, though no certainty.
This second time brought him to Ellsworth. He reports a favorable impression of his new community.
“They are kind and loving people,” he said.