– Saritha Rai writes for the GlobalPost, where this article first appeared. –

It is dawn in Kerala, a palm frond of a state in India’s South West. As the sun’s first rays hit the church steeple, a Holy Mass is being conducted in the local Malayalam language.

Only, the prayer is dedicated to a newborn by his Catholic family half a world away in the United States.

Requests for these so-called Mass Intentions, or prayers offered for a specific reason, pour into India from the United States, Canada and Europe, where there is a huge shortage of priests.

This outsourcing to faraway India is a quaint practice that has been called “religious outsourcing.”