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In the Pipeline: Priest makes a difference near and far

October 14, 2013|By Chris Epting
  • Though Fr. Angelos Sebastian recently moved to a church in Westminster, the impact he made at Saint Bonaventure in Huntington Beach can still be felt.
Though Fr. Angelos Sebastian recently moved to a church… (Chris Epting, HB…)

More than 8,000 miles away, in India, a groundbreaking is taking place thanks to someone who lives here in Huntington Beach.

Father Angelos Sebastian, who was born in Kerala, India, in 1975, left his home at age 14 to join the minor seminary in the mission Diocese of Ajmer and was ordained in 2001.

Until recently, Sebastian had been with St. Bonaventure in Huntington Beach. Today, he has moved over to Blessed Sacrament Church in Westminster. But ask anyone here who ever saw him preach, and you'll discover quickly the impact he has made on this community.

I wrote in this column about Sebastian two years ago, when he had just begun spearheading the idea of building an orphanage in India, where UNICEF has reported that more than 25 million children live on the streets.

As he shared then, "I grew up seeing children on the streets begging for food. People would chase them away, mistreat them, abuse them. It always caused a pain my heart to see so many children with no parents to love them and no food, education or future. They spend all day and night on the street, subject to every form of abuse you can imagine."

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In January 2012, he took a group to visit a site in India that he thought might be just right for the orphanage. And now, the groundbreaking is taking place in the state of Rajasthan, in northwestern India.

I went to visit the priest in Westminster on a recent Sunday. At mass that morning, he delivered a soaring and poignant sermon about lepers and the things he saw as a young man in India. He stressed the importance of reaching out to those in the harshest of conditions. In typical fashion, his sermon brought rousing applause from the faithful.

It's hard to put into words the effect that this man of faith has on people. But it is real and profound. For all the wonderful doctors we had at Hoag Hospital tending to my mother almost two years ago, what we remember most was Sebastian's visit.

Seeing the two of them, my mom and Sebastian, at mass the other morning, reminded me of that frightening day in the intensive care unit. That is, it was frightening until Sebastian arrived. He made things better, just as he his doing for orphans in India.

He told me he is very pleased with how things are coming along and that soon he will make a return trip to oversee the orphanage's development. He is also very thankful for the donations and support he has received in Huntington Beach. And next month will bring another opportunity to help fund the cause.

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