The New Priest
In 1898, John decided to join for priesthood. Msgr. John Menachery, the new Vicar Apostolic of Trichur, sent John to Kandy in Sri Lanka for studies to priesthood. John joined the seminary on April 17th, 1898. In his seminary days, John wanted to know God and love him deeply. He fulfilled the call to imitate the Lord fully. John thought that Christ expected from his priest not riches, not learning, but love. To become a pastor, love is essentially required. As a loyal devotee, John offered his study and formation into the hands of the Divine Mother. John was ordained on Dec. 21st, 1907 in Kandy by Dr. Clement Pagani OSB, bishop of Kandy. Soon afterwards, he came back to his native Kerala.
Rector of Minor Seminary
For the next 46 years, he served the Vicariate (later diocese) of Trichur in many responsible positions. During 1908-1909 he was the Assistant Manager of the St Thomas School at Trichur. His first stint as parish priest was at Kandassankadavu 1909. He was the Rector of the Minor Seminary between 1910-1917 and in this time, between 1913-1917, he was also the secretary to the Vicar Apostolic Mar John Menachery. He was the Parish priest of Lourdes Cathedral in 1917-1918 and later of Kottapady church in 1918-1921. He came back to Trichur in 1921 and served as the Manager of the St Thomas College till 1925. He taught French and Latin in the College.
The New Priest
On Nov. 21, 1944, Fr. Ukken realized his dream of dedicated service to the community, especially the downtrodden, by starting the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity. Fr. John won the appreciation of the local populace so that he was unanimously elected as the Village Court Judge (head of civic administration) of Chowannur.
He remained as the chaplain of the Convent in Chowannur till he breathed his last on the October 13th of 1956. A large gathering of people, irrespective of caste and creed, participated in his funeral procession, expressing their sincere appreciation and gratitude to a life, spent in love of God and fellow human beings.