The departure of Nadapuzha achen brings back many fond memories of my childhood. Achen was indeed a dedicated priest who lived an exemplary life true to his calling. He was instrumental in establishing the Ambalamukal Mor Gregorios Chapel of Karingachira Church and all through his life nurtured its growth. When the industrial belt starting with Kochi Refineries and FACT(CD) took form in the mid-1960s, this church became the parish for many employees of these companies of Syrian Orthodox faith. Achen's care and dedication saw the parish grow from a small kurishumthotti to a structure that remained unfinished for many years and finally into its current form in the late 1970s.
Achen had his priestly formation under Aluva Valiya Thirumeni. In his later years, he recounted to me his experiences at the feet of the saint. He was one among the few Syriac scholars remaining in the Malankara Church. At the February 1982 reception of HH Patriarch at Karingachira, achen was the translator for HH's address. About 5 years ago, we digitized his small collection of Syriac books - he spoke to Prof. istvan Perczel of Tubingen University in Syriac and demanded that he write a borrower's note in Syriac to test the authenticity of his interest in Syriac.
In the early 1980s, when he retired as vicar of Karingachira, he was given a parting gift of about Rs 75,000 - a princely sum in those days. He immediately gifted it back to the church.
It was in late 1984 that TVs began to be appear widely in Kerala. Achen's home in Chitrapuzha had a color TV. In October, when Indira Gandhi was assasinated, naturally people were keen to watch the final rites on TV. Achen was gracious to put his TV set out in his porch for the locals to watch. Sadly his compound wall and gates were destroyed by the unruly crowd that stampeded the home. But I don't believe that put a dent in achen's warmth and love for people.
Achen was everything and more you could ask for in a spiritual father. Indeed his departure is a loss for the Church, particularly the faithful of Karingachira and Ambalamukal. May God grant him rest among the righteous and the just!
Thomas Joseph, Ph.D.
Tech. Editor, Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies [ http://bethmardutho.cua.edu/Hugoye/
Web Master, Syriac Orthodox Resources [ http://sor.cua.edu/