DARIEN — It is fitting that the celebration for Rev. Canon George Kovoor began with an Argentinian hymn sung in Spanish. The new rector of St. Paul’s Church in Darien was instituted on Nov. 2 in a celebratory mass featuring hymns in different languages and guests from around the globe, representative of Kovoor’s color and diversity and what he will bring to his new community.

“My primary focus is connecting with the immediate community and serving them,” Kovoor said. “This is clearly a privileged community, but are people happy? Are they at peace?”

Kovoor, 59, was born and raised in India and studied at the University of Delhi before being ordained as a minister with the Church of India. He served as a minister in his native country for a decade. After leaving India, he spent 30 years in the United Kingdom, working as a pastor and academic and became a chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II. Three years ago, Kovoor came to the United States with his family to work as a fellow and a rector at Yale University. He has traveled to over 96 different countries as an “ambassador for Christ” and learned several languages — and these are only a few of his many achievements since being ordained at age 23.

Kovoor was asked to join St. Paul’s after an extensive interview process. The church voted unanimously to hire him as rector and he joined on Oct. 1.

Parishioners and friends of Kovoor gathered at the church a month after his arrival for Mass, food and drink, to celebrate a fresh start for Kovoor and the parish itself.

John and Nancy Donovan, of Norwalk, who have been members of St. Paul’s for 21 years, joined in for the celebration. They said they are looking forward to seeing the changes their new pastor will bring to their church.

“We’re excited,” Nancy Donovan said. “Things are going to be different around here.”

“He has exciting ideas about outreach into the community,” her husband added. “He has experience in intellectual communities but has vision for reaching populations across the region. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit that’ll help with revitalization.”

Kovoor’s friends from different walks of life joined the celebration as well, including the Rev. David Parsons, Anglican Bishop of the Arctic, who took a break from his offices in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Parsons met Kovoor over 10 years ago when the two were on a ministries abroad trip to Malaysia.

“He’s a fire starter,” Parsons said. “With God’s help, this church...it’ll continue to be fine.”

Kovoor was drawn to St. Paul’s because of his desire to help the church get back to its former self.

“I was invited to come here because this is a very flourishing church of several thousand people and over the past 17 to 20 years, this church has been in stark and sharp decline,” he said. “So, I was invited to come. I’m prepared to put it on the table. You have to know what Jesus stands for and apply all that to life. Being a mover and shaker is to put Jesus on the agenda.”

In addition to addressing the spiritual well-being of his parishioners, Kovoor hopes to build bridges between different faiths.

“For me to say I’m only Episcopalian is a backwards step,” he said. “I’m trying to build bridges. I want to build bridges to other faiths and focus on what unites us, not what divides us. Not only am I interested in building bridges between all Christians, but I want to build bridges with other faiths as well and focus on that which unites us.”

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata

More Information

More facts about Rev. Canon Kovoor:

His father was an Air Force fighter pilot.

He is a chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II, despite the fact that he is not British nor Anglican. The queen asked him to serve her anyways. “I consider it a great privilege and honor to serve her that way,” Kovoor said. “She’s a wonderful lady.”

Kovoor and his wife, Chitra, have three children: Timothy, Joshua and Esther.

Kovoor is a sportsman and enjoys kayaking, sailing, fishing and racquet sports. He represented India in the World Sailing Championships from 1973 to 1975.

He also enjoys meditating, travel and cooking for family and friends.