by Katie Hyde
Special to The Leaven
Sudeep Kodigandla has dreamed of visiting Poland for nearly 15 years.
That is because Poland is the entire reason he is Catholic. Furthermore, Poland is, by extension, the primary reason Kodigandla is now a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis.
Polish Catholic missionaries came to his village of Chennammanayuni kota in the Anantapur district of India over 50 years ago. Kodigandla’s grandfather, a young boy at the time, was the first member of the family to convert to Catholicism.
“[The missionaries] are the reason we got the faith,” said Kodigandla. “I am the fifth generation of people born Catholic in my family. It is only because of the Polish people that we are Catholic.”
These missionaries not only brought the faith, but education, financial support and medical assistance to his village. And though this rural Indian village was far different than Poland, the missionaries approached their assignment with zeal and love.
“They lived with the community, ate with the community, lived without bathrooms or showers,” said Kodigandla. “But they still came back every six months.”
It was due to the sacrifices of these missionaries that Kodigandla was eager to travel to Poland and give thanks for his faith and his vocation, all of which he owes to the great Catholic spirit of Poland.
“I wanted to come here and thank the missionaries and these great people for giving us the faith,” said Kodigandla.
“I’m here just to pay them back — to pay it forward,” he added.
The group’s bus had no more entered Poland than Kodingandla was struck by the moment.
“There were tears in my eyes,” said Kodigandla. “This country brought out my emotions.”
“I was filled with joy that I finally made it here to Poland,” he added.