Rev. Fr. James Athikalam MST was born on July 5, 1958, at Pulincunnoo, Changanacherry. His parents are Poulose and Annamma. He is the eldest of 3 children. He belongs to Little Flower Church, Kaduvakulam in Chenganacherry Archdiocese. He had his school education in C.M.S High School, Pallam. He had his priestly studies in Deepti Minor Seminary, Melampara (Bharananganam), Philosophy in Sacred Heart Seminary, Poonamallee and Theology in St Joseph Pontifical Seminary, Mangalore. He graduated from Vikram university, Ujjain and took his M.A. from Mysore University. He had his Licentiate in Biblical Theology from Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem and Doctorate in Patristic Studies from Augustinianum, Lateran University, Rome. He was ordained priest on March 22, 1984 for the Missionary Society of St. Thomas the Apostle (MST).
As a priest he worked at Barnagar in the Diocese of Ujjain and later was appointed teacher and procurator of the Diocesan Minor Seminary of Ujjain and teacher in Deepti Minor Seminary of MST at Melampara (Bharananganam). He was Director of Jeevanjyoti, Missionary Orientation Centre of MST, Sreerangapatna, Mandya. He taught Patrology in Ruhalaya Major Seminary, Ujjain, of which he was later appointed Rector. He was the Director General of the Missionary Society of St. Thomas the Apostle from 2008 to 2013. From 2014 to 2018 he served as Director of Nirmal Jyoti Mental Health Programme, Bhopal. From 2015 onwards he was also priest in charge of the Syro Malabar Community of Bhopal and Regional Coordinator of the Syro Malabar Migrants of Central India. He was elected fourth Bishop of Sagar on January 12, 2018 and was ordained Bishop on April 17, 2018 in Sagar Cathedral by George Cardinal Alencherry.