The following is an interview by Jane Schizcik, SDDCW President with Father Jayanna Kanna, Parochial Administrator at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Rib Lake, WI.
While visiting Fr. Jayanna Kanna in his office on a peaceful Monday morning Fr. Kanna and I had the chance to exchange pleasantries and get to know one another. He was most helpful and gracious when answering my many questions.
Fr. Kanna is from the Diocese of Guntur and village of Mutlur. He explains a village is about 10,000 people with 1,500 – 2,000 of the population being Catholic. He had been working in the Diocese of Kadapa. He proudly states he has been a priest for 29 years, ordained on April 20, 1993. Fr. Kanna beams as the states, “I always enjoy what the Lord has given me.” After ordination, he worked first as an Associate Pastor and then was promoted to Parish Priest in a village that needed a church, rectory, school, and orphanage. He was able to accomplish those building projects in 6 years and was assigned to another area that needed a church and rectory, which he accomplished and then was given a third area again needing a church and rectory. He was much like St. Francis in the building of a church for our Lord. Fr. Kanna also adds he encourages vocations. During the time he was working in the Diocese of Kadapa, he sent 5 young boys to the Seminary, 2 of whom became priests.
Fr. Kanna just smiles when he asks me how old I think he is! I almost guessed his age correctly, but he then readily tells me his birthday is June 10, 1963. His father is deceased, his mother is 82, and lives with his younger brother. He is the oldest sibling. He describes his mother as very spiritual and still at age 82 is insistent about attending church. Fr. Kanna attributes the great faith of his parents, past priests, and nuns in the convent in the village for guiding him on his journey in becoming a priest. Fr. Kanna is very thankful to Mary Fitzpatrick and Fr. Rudolph Ablisser for the support they provided him for his seminary studies.
Fr. Kanna has resided in the Diocese of Superior since April 2021 and spent a short time in Merrill before coming to Rib Lake. He had been in the United States in 2003 – 2008, in Tampa, Florida, where he served as an Associate Pastor. He enjoyed the heat and humidity of Florida as it is very similar to the climate in India. In 2008, he returned to India.
Fr. Kanna is getting adjusted to our northern winter climate. This is first time he has been in this cold of a climate and is learning how to dress in layers. The parishioners in Rib Lake make sure he has the proper clothing to wear to stay warm. It is also the first time he has experienced ‘snow’ which he describes as beautiful. Driving on snow covered roads is not a problem for him – he just takes his time and drives slowly.
Fr. Kanna has now experienced all 4 seasons since coming to Wisconsin. He had never experienced seeing how the leaves change colors in the fall and described that as beautiful. Hands down – fall is Fr. Kanna’s favorite time of year.
Fr. Kanna is fond of chicken and fish, salads, and vegetables and enjoys foods more on the spicy side seasoned with chili powder and an Indian spice. He does not prefer sweets and desserts.
In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking outdoors, photography and bird watching. He has a bird feeder positioned outside his window and enjoys watching the birds visit his bird feeder. He also loves listening to music and is so appreciative of those who provide the music and singing for Mass.
Fr. Kanna remarks how wonderful he finds the people of Rib Lake and feels blessed to be able to serve them as their Sacramental Minister. He and Fr. Patrick McConnell work hand and hand as they minister at the 4 parishes clustered together: Good Shepherd – Rib Lake, Holy Rosary – Medford, Our Lady of Perpetual Help – Whittlesey, and Sacred Heart – Stetsonville.
If you see Fr. Kanna out and about, please take the time to introduce yourself to him and get to know him. Once you meet him – you will find a most gracious man who only wants to share the love of the Lord with you!