Faith drives Cyril John’s service to the Church

“I was leading the life of an ordinary good Catholic — a Sunday Catholic — Sunday Mass goer and had a job in the Indian Parliament to which I was committed,” said Cyril John, a member of CHARIS International Service of Communion which was constituted in 2018 on the personal initiative of Pope Francis.

“The word “LUKEWARM” (Rev 3:15, 16) was applicable to me. It is from that situation the Lord chose me (Jn 15:16), because, He had a definite plan for me,” John said.

Pope Francis recently bestowed on him the title of ‘chevalier’ — a knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great — the fourth highest papal order in the Equestrian Order, which was established by Pope Gregory XVI in 1831.

According to Bishop Francis Kalist, episcopal adviser to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) in India, the order, was awarded to John for his distinguished service to the Church at the diocesan, national, continental and international level, especially through the CCR.

Recalling his earlier days in the CCR, John told that it all began with his first retreat in 1982 and then ten years later he made a second retreat after which he started attending a parish prayer meeting.

“In 1993, I attended a growth retreat during which the counselor told me in a one-to-one session that the Lord was showing her in a vision that the Charismatic Renewal in the capital city of Delhi was lifeless and that the Lord was entrusting the Renewal to me asking me to rebuild it — a call similar to St. Francis of Assisi, at the church of San Damiano. The call ‘Francis, go and repair my house, which as you can see is in ruins’. At that moment I felt an electric current passing through me,” he said.

“I did not understand anything as I was not in any leadership that time. However, with this came a powerful anointing as if the Lord was empowering and commissioning me,” he said.

“The message also included sufficient warning about the impending challenges, opposition and sufferings I would have to face in the course of this leadership (2 Tim 4: 1-5),” he said.

“I had no knowledge of the Scripture. However, with the anointing I surrendered my life and the Lord began to entrust me with responsibilities in the Renewal one after other. In 1993 itself, I was invited into the core group of the parish prayer group and soon became its leader. Next year, I was discerned as the chairman of Delhi Service Team,” he said.

“And in 1995, I was chosen as a member of the National Service Team and later as its vice-chairman and chairman. I was also a member of International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS) (2004-2007) and its vice-president (2007-2015). I was also chairman of ICCRS sub-committee for Asia-Oceania (2006-2019). Thus, I was able to play a major role in promoting, strengthening and consolidating the CCR in India and in the Asia region,” he continued.

But not long after the beginning of the new millennium, tragedy struck when his wife fell ill.

“For all these responsibilities I had the full support of my wife Sophy… In 2002, she was diagnosed with advanced stage of lung cancer. The sufferings that commenced during Lent of 2002, continued beyond Easter and Pentecost until the Lord called Sophy to her eternal home in July same year,” John said.

“It was the biggest blow in my life, as I lost the person I needed the most both for the family and the ministry. For almost two years, I had to be both father and mother to my three school going children,” he said.

“The suffering, pain, anxiety and sorrow that I faced on account of all these was offered to the Lord for the sake of the Church and for those who were in dire need of prayer support. God stood by me and gave me the strength and courage to carry on his responsibilities faithfully and to do justice in all fronts.”

In 2002, he married Elsamma who had a son from her first marriage. She had lost her husband in an accident.

 “I have two wives interceding for me, Sophy in heaven and Elsamma by my side.” he said.

Quoting Psalm 23:6 has become a continuous prayer for John. ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life’. His life continued with his commitment to his family, to his job and to the Renewal.

Reminding his participation in an intercession training program with Blessed Rani Maria in 1993, he said, “On return to Delhi, I started the intercession ministry, Delhi Crusaders, followed by the National Intercessory Network which had thousands of intercessors networked across the country.” 

John, in spite of his busy schedule with office and renewal, was committed to giving quality time to his family. According to him, if a lay person does not get the required support from the family, his or her ministry cannot grow and bear much fruit.

His special charism is intercession, especially prophetic intercession — a topic that he has developed, which has been accepted in the Church. He has widely travelled abroad, especially to conduct training courses on prophetic intercession. John is also the author of five books on the Catholic faith, some of which have been translated into as many as 16 languages.

Based on a personal inspiration that he received, a retreat center — Jeevan Jyoti Ashram — was established in Delhi. It can accommodate 200 people for residential programs.

John has served Lok Sabha Secretariat, Lower House of the Indian Parliament, for 34 years and retired in 2016 as joint secretary and chief of protocol. John, who lives in New Delhi, leads an exemplary family life and has been a role model and source of inspiration for many people.

Praising the John’s services, Bishop Kalist said: “I am happy that the Holy Father has recognized the exemplary services rendered by Cyril John to the Church and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in India and around the world. I consider this as recognition for the whole Renewal. I congratulate Cyril on behalf of the Church and the CCR in India.”

Cardinal P. Raniero Cantalamessa, papal preacher, said: “What a joy to know that the Holy Father gave you this honor! You certainly deserve it for your long and faithful service to the Church. In CCR we are proud of it and as Ecclesiastical Assistant of CHARIS, I am particularly happy and congratulate you. May the Lord keep you in his service and anoint you ever more for the task.”

President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Cardinal Oswald Gracias stated in a message of felicitation: “My heartiest congratulations on receiving the title of Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great. This is a well-deserved recognition. I have personally seen your great dedication for the Renewal and for the work of the Church. I am confident that this recognition will inspire you to greater discipleship of Jesus and greater service for God’s people. Do pray for me as I do for you.”

When asked how he balanced a busy and responsible government job, family and ministry, he disclosed his trade secret of time management.

“Give to family what it needs, give to career what it belongs to and give to the Lord, what belongs to the God. Yes, it is possible to serve in the Lord’s vineyard while excelling in government job and doing justice to the family,” he said.

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