Father Anthony Saji VC

Father Anthony Saji is a priest in the Indian Vincentian Congregation (VC). He was born in India on May 1st 1977 in a devout Catholic family and was the first of four children. He felt called to be a priest since his childhood. His vocational path was difficult with a lot of rejections and obstacles - but with God's help and blessings he fulfilled his desire.

In 1999 he began to study Philosophy in Bangalore, India, and in 2002 he was sent to the Vincentian Congregation's Mission in East Africa which was further developed by Father Joseph Bill. He spent his pastoral year in Nairobi, Kenya, and then continued studying Theology at one of the most renowned universities in Africa - the 'Tangaza College' in Nairobi (CUEA). Students of more than 77 nationalities were studying there, which gave him a wonderful opportunity to experience different cultures and world-views as a seminarian.

During his training in Nairobi he acquired practical experience in various aspects of spiritual welfare, preaching and spiritual direction. Together with his brother seminarians he conducted three-day-long retreats for pupils, he assisted parish priests by giving homilies on Sundays, taught catechism to children, did hospital ministries, was responsible for both youth groups and prayer groups in many parishes and managed to find the time to help in the Vincentian Prayer House.

After his priestly ordination on December 29th 2006, his provincial first sent him to Uvinza, Tanzania, for two months to deputise for the local parish priest and then to Entebbe, Uganda, where Father Bill was his superior. Here he was not only the Finance Officer and Assistant Director of the Vincentian Prayer Centre in Entebbe, but he also had to build a new retreat and spiritual renewal centre in Masaka located 180 km away from Entebbe. Within five month he finished the construction work of a beautiful house for priests which was blessed on February 23rd 2008 on Father Bill's 80th birthday, and in March 2009 the blessing of the new church followed on.

After the death of Father Bill in March 2008, his provincial appointed him as successor to Father Bill to continue the worldwide movement of annual retreats where people from all walks of life are welcome. Since April 2008 Father Anthony has travelled all over the world giving six-day silent spiritual renewal and healing retreats, as well as popular missions and special youth programmes, dedicating the rest of his time and power to the East African mission.

The core aim of the retreats is the conversion of the person to God, to lead a life based on the Holy Sacraments and Holy Scripture, and to apply the ten commandments to modern-day living. Many retreatants genuinely testify that they have been transformed by the love of Jesus which they experienced through Father Anthony's teaching and his love for people. They found lasting inner peace or the way back to confession after a long time of neglect. Some learned to forgive or to accept their illness, others found healing from their addictions or from psychological and physical illnesses.

Although Father Anthony is young, his life experience is extensive. He has experienced many different kinds of suffering during his life: poverty, hunger and hard work (at twelve years of age he had to earn a living for his family for five years), the illness of his mother and other big challenges. In spite of all that, he naturally radiates the joy and love of Christ and illustrates how happy you can live with Jesus, already here on earth, and he would like the chance to share his life-determining experience of God's presence with other people, too.