Fr. Stephen Jaideep Taluja, our youngest if not newest Maryknoller, leaves today for his first overseas mission assignment to the Latin America region. He will refresh his Spanish at our language school in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and travel around the region to discern where he will eventually work.
Born in Punjab, India, in 1981, Stephen converted to Catholicism from Sikhism at age 16 while attending a Catholic school. He immigrated to the States in 2000 and made his first contact with Maryknoll shortly thereafter and was ordained in 2009.
In addition to his native Punjabi, Hindi, and English, Stephan speaks Spanish, and has dabbled in Aymara, German, Greek and Hebrew. We hate him.
Being the new breed of Maryknoll upstarts, Stephen eschews our time-honored (?) tradition of ringing the tower bells whilst the assembled community waves goodbye (a lá the Munchkins to Glenda) as his car drives around the front circle three times before heading off to fields afar, which for now means the local airport.
Before finally getting his assignment overseas, Stephen assisted at Transfiguration parish in New York's Chinatown. His youth, energy, popularity and personable style apparently intimidated someone and his tenure there (along with two Chinese priests who also assisted) was prematurely terminated (let the reader take note.)
In a word, Stephen can't get overseas fast enough and so we wish him Godspeed in this new chapter of his mission vocation.
Awkward segue: one very nice addition in the new Roman Missal is a special preface for one or several missionary martyrs. Not that anyone should get any ideas. I shall be offering salient comments, pro and con, on the new translation in future posts.