13 Farewell to Archbishop Viruthakulangara

posted Apr 25, 2018, 8:32 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 8:32 AM ]
Reverend Abraham Viruthakulangara, Archbishop of Nagpur, passed away in New Delhi on April 19, after suffering a heart attack in the morning hours. He was in the national capital to attend a meeting of all Hindi speaking Bishops at the CBCI Centre. He was 74.

Born on June 5, 1943, Rev. Abraham hailed from Kerala, and joined a seminary at Indore in 1960, when he was 16. He was ordained a priest in 1969 after he completed his priestly studies at the St Charles Seminary, Nagpur. He was appointed as bishop of the newly created diocese of Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh in 1977 at the age of 34, and became the youngest prelate in India and the 100th Indian Catholic Bishop since the establishment of the Indian hierarchy in 1886.

After serving at Khandwa for 21 years, he was promoted as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Nagpur on April 22, 1998. He began his work in Nagpur with the motto 'Radiating Christ's Light'. The Archdiocese of Nagpur includes Bhandara and Gondia in Maharashtra, and Seoni, Balaghat, Betul and Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.

His body was flown into the city late April 19 evening, and carried to the SFS church on Kamptee Road, where it was kept in the Bishop's House for three days. Thousands of people braved the scorching summer heat to attend the funeral of Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara in Nagpur on April 23.

Cardinal Baselios Mar Cleemis, head of the Syro-Malankara Church, led the funeral Mass at St Francis de Sales Cathedral in Nagpur, while Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, preached the homily. They were assisted by eight archbishops and 30 bishops, besides scores of priests.

The Apostolic Nunciature in New Delhi was represented by Monsignor Javier Fernandez. Fr Albert D'Souza of Nagpur archdiocese read out the obituary, while Divine Word Bishop Arokia Sebastian Durairja of Khandwa read the Gospel during the Mass.