Nagpur: Most Rev.Abraham Viruthakulangara, Archbishop of Nagpur, a zealous missionary, passed away on 19th April 2018 in Delhi. He was in Delhi for the meeting of all the Hindi speaking Bishops at CBCI centre, Delhi. He suffered a major cardiac arrest in the early morning. He was 74. The funeral is scheduled for April. 23., 3:30 pm in Nagpur.
When appointed in 1977 as bishop of the newly created Diocese of Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh state, he was just 34 years old and the youngest prelate in India. He also became the 100th Indian Catholic Bishop since the establishment of the Indian hierarchy in 1886.
Born on June 5, 1943, in Kerala, he joined the seminary in Indore after high school studies in 1960. He was ordained a Priest on October 28, 1969 after his priestly studies at St Charles Seminary, Nagpur. After the ordination, he worked among Gond tribal for eight years. Observing his simplicity and missionary zeal, the Pope chose him to head the new and predominantly tribal diocese of Khandwa.
During his two-decade long service in Khandwa, He helped the local Christians to bond with their Hindu and Muslim neighbors. During one of her visits to Khandwa, St. Mother Teresa commended the young and dynamic prelate for his proficiency in language that helped him reach out to thousands and transform their lives. After serving Khandwa for 21 years, he was promoted as the metropolitan Archbishop of Nagpur on April 22, 1998. He began his mission in Nagpur Archdiocese with the Motto “Radiating Christ’s Light.’
Nagpur Archdiocese has seen dramatic changes in its service to local people during his tenure. In the past 40 years as a bishop and Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara has served as the first chairman of the youth commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) in 1986. He was the chairman of the Western Region Bishops’ Council (Comprising bishops of Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat states) from 1998 to 2004.
He was a member of the governing board of St. John’s Academy of Health Science (Medical College and Hospital), Bangalore. He was the Ecclesiastical adviser of Jesus Youth (International Organization for Youth).
In all these posts, he has proved to be an effective leader, inspirer, educationist, visionary and above all a man of God.
Abraham Viruthakulangara originally belongs to St Marys Knanaya Catholic Church, Kallara (New). He was ordained by Archbishop Mar Kuriakose Kunnassery at Catholic Metropolitian House, Kottayam since he belongs to Knanaya community.
Knanaya Catholic Archdiocese of Kottayam express condolences and prayers. May his soul rest in peace.