"In the last one decade of my job in the US State Department
, I have travelled to 147 countries and have played a crucial role in opening 65 new consulates and embassies (also relocating existing ones)," Washington-based Kurien
, 45, said.
was in his
hometown at Haripad in Alappuzha district for a short private visit following a death in his
is mostly busy travelling across the globe for his
In India too, Kurien
has been in charge of starting US consulates or relocating them, be it in Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai or Chennai.
In 2004, he spent a year in Iraq to supervise Iraqi relief operations on behalf of the US government.
"It was through my priesthood that I was able to maintain a balance in life wherein I could effectively manage spirituality and the pressures of my hugely demanding job.
It is certainly tough but god has given me the strength and in return I never ever take money while I perform my job as a priest," said Kurien
was ordained in 1987 as a priest in the Orthodox Church
, which has its headquarters in Kottayam district.
Leaving the shores of the small coastal village after completing his
schooling at the age of 16, Kurien
reached the US to join his
sister who was already working there.
Studies were a passion.
He first completed his bachelor's degree in divinity from a university in Boston and then reached Athens from where he took double masters in theology and philosophy from the Greek Orthodox Seminary.
was busy studying even when he
became the parish vicar of the St Gregorious Orthodox Church
in Washington - a position in which he
has served for the past 18 years.
"Then I finished my MBA in finance and completed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) course.
I completed my fellow programme from the Royal Institute
of Chartered Surveyors," said Kurien
is currently on a two-year sabbatical and wears the cassock only when conducting mass or important church functions.
In 1999, he
was inducted into the US State Department
as an international planning consultant.
This year, after the Obama
administration took over, he
became the first person of Indian origin to sit in the chair of director of strategic planning in the department.
passion for studies is yet to stop as he
is currently doing a part-time master's course in strategic planning at the US Army War College
in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
While he is busy globetrotting, his wife Ajitha Kurien who holds a double masters is busy at home looking after their three children.
Having helped set up so many US consulates across the world, Kurien
has a dream - to see a consulate office opening in his
Tags: Fr. Alexander Kurien, Kerala, US consulates