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He was a tall, stocky, bald and clean shaven priest. He was a bitter critic of globalization in India. He had a booming voice. Friends would often joke that a megaphone was placed in his throat. For his voice rose like a rolling thunder. He was a relentless fighter. It was said of him in an issue of India Today, “That he was often seen wearing a khadi dhoti and standing tall in front of politicians, police, unions, shipping companies or anyone who dared bother his beloved fisher folk or ruined the oceans” .That was Fr. Tom Kocherry; and we his confreres who knew him well in the Redemptorist congregation would just affectionately call him as - Tom.
About five years ago Fr. Tom had a very serious heart attack while in Australia. The doctors had to do an emergency heart surgery on him in Australia, and implanted a defibrillator close to his heart, which incidentally was given to him free of cost. After that surgery Tom gradually began to regain his health, and in due course of time returned back to India. Yet, from that time onwards little by little, his health condition began to deteriorate. Of and on he used to get a severe pain in the heart and he had to be rushed to the hospital. He was now put under heavy medication, until it came to a point where he needed frequent hospitalisation. As a result I had temporarily asked Fr. Tom to stay at our house in Muttada at Trivandrum, so that he can be under the close supervision of his doctor friend, Dr. Scaria. There were also some other doctors at Trivandrum who took special care of him. Fr. Tom then spent about eleven months at our community in Muttada.
I was told by our confreres at Muttada that his usual programme for the day was that after his breakfast he used to take a little rest every day in his room. And on Saturday 3rd May, he took his breakfast, spoke to Fr. M.A. Joseph and then went to take his usual rest in his room. I was told that about 10: 30 A.M. Fr. M. A. Joseph called out for him, but there was no response from Tom. Presuming that Tom was resting, he did not want to disturb him any further. Then an advocate Miss Elsa came to meet him. And as she did not want to disturb him in his sleep, she just sat in his room for about half an hour waiting for Tom to get up from his sleep. But she found it strange that he did not get up at all. So she went close and touched his leg to wake him, but found that his leg was cold. So she immediately called for Fr. M.A. Joseph. He came rushing down and both of them found that his entire body had become cold. The sisters were called to help out. They came, saw the condition of Fr. Tom, and then called Dr. Helen to come immediately. The doctor on arrival examined Fr. Tom, and said that he might have passed away around 11:00 A. M. on Saturday 3rd May 2014.
The long-awaited formees’ gathering took place on January 11, 2014. This year, as in the past, besides the theologians at Mt. St. Alphonsus, the sisters of Mother of Perpetual Succour and the English learners (including three form Thailand) at Sadupadesa Vidyalaya along with the college going students from Sadupadesa Vidyalaya participated in the gathering.
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Keeping to the age-old tradition started by our Irish confreres of the past, the Redemptorist theology students staged a three-act play for the benefactors, religious formees and the general public on the 23rd, 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th of December 2013. It is an opportunity to celebrate the Christmas season with the wider community and spreading the joy of the season.
Church of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Madurai, has a new website. News about the parish, their pius associations and their activities are beautifully displayed on the website. We wish all the best to the parishioners and the parish clergy. Log on to www.cssrchurchmadurai.in.