On September 2, 2023, Sosamma Antony, a 95-year-old woman living in the southern Indian state of Kerala, received an unexpected call. Her grandson, Monsignor George Jacob Koovakad, was calling with a special guest: Pope Francis!
Father Koovakad has been organizing Pope Francis’ trips since 2021. The Times of India, which first shared the story, explained that in July 2022, while the Pontiff was traveling across Canada, Father Koovakad shared his concerns for his grandmother who had fallen ill with COVID-19. The Pope apparently said he would pray for her and then frequently asked Father Koovakad about her health on subsequent trips.
The Pontiff, who has always shown his concern for the elderly, then apparently asked to speak to the woman directly while on his trip to Mongolia in early September. Thus at 12:45, while the Pope was in Ulaanbaatar, Sosamma Antony’s son Father Thomas Kallukalam, of the Syro-Malabar Church, answered the phone and put her on the line with the Pontiff. The around 4-minute recording of the call shows the Pope and Monsignor Koovakad’s family members speaking in a mix of English, Italian, and Malayalam. They greeted one another, exchanged prayer intentions and the Pope praised the grandmother for how she raised her grandson!
When the Pope was informed she was praying for him, he can be heard joking in the video: “I need, I need [it] … this job is crazy!”
“After the call my mother kept repeating what a great blessing it was to have spoken to the Pope,” Father Kallukalam told The Times of India.
Pope Francis is known for reaching out and cold calling people. For example he called a priest who was organizing “Christian raves,” a mother who lost her son during World Youth Day and a Bishop whose diocese was heavily affected by COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic.