John was orphaned at a very early age due to the untimely death of his parents- he lost his mother when he was two and half years old and father when he was six. In his personal life, John felt the pain of being an orphan. But indeed this was an opening for John to understand the all embracing providential care of God the Father. He believed what he had learnt from his mother that the good God never abandoned his faithful children. For those who loved God, He worked everything into good (Rom. 8:28).

He later wrote in his spiritual diary called "Lights from Heaven" - the diary notes from 1902-1932: 'Today it seemed to me to hear Jesus telling to me: I will not leave you helpless and orphans: For I am here to intercede for you." This care for the destitute constitutes also part of the charism of the Congregation he later founded. This sense of being protected and guided by God in the state of his orphanhood was always present in the spirituality of Fr. Ukken. He writes again: "Contemplation on the love of God gave me great consolation with tears, when I reflected on the personal gifts of my infancy and boyhood" when in tender years my parents dying, I was stranded on the wide world. you protected me'. We can see that in the young John, the virtues of utter trust in the providence of God and in His fatherhood and motherhood are clearly visible.

Actually, while being a seminarian, John could say that "I am simply an effect of divine mercy, I am saved by an all powerful effort of divine mercy". Providence was leading John through unknown ways. The parish priest of Parappur Fr. Ouseph Kuttikatt saw for himself the deep devotion of John to the spiritual life, his earnestness to study and the sense of obedience and sacrifice. He invited him to stay at the priest's residence and attend the upper primary school, which John readily agreed to do. Msgr. Adolphus Medlycott, the first Vicar Apostolic of Trichur (1887-1896) visited Parappur around 1895. The bishop was touched by John's deep fervour for spiritual life and his nobility of character and intellectual acumen. The bishop took him to the Minor Seminary in Trichur and allowed him to complete his Studies.