Father Francis Xavier Kochuveettil got off the plane in Dublin Airport a little less than two years ago and was quickly stung by the Irish air. The weather had topped out at 2C that day. The temperature felt particularly biting because Kochuveettil had just come from Kerala, a state in southern India where the weather hovers somewhere in the vicinity of 20-30C all year.
“My God, I thought, what’s happening to me?” he says. Kochuveettil, 41, has since adjusted to the wind-chill: he’s grown fond of Ireland while ministering to Catholics in Shannon Parish in the country’s south-west.
Kochuveettil is one of four priests from the Cochin diocese (a Catholic administrative district) in Kerala who are currently serving in Ireland’s Killaloe diocese. These men, along with other priests from abroad, are helping fill a gaping void in Ireland’s clergy as priests age and younger generations eschew the once-esteemed profession.