Prelate who “smells sheep” consecrated for Gwalior
By Lissy Maruthanakuzhy
Gwalior: Hundreds of people from various Indian states joined 21 prelates at the episcopal ordination of Bishop Thomas Thennatt of Gwalior.
Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara of Nagpur, who led the ordination ceremonies, said they were witnessing the elevation of a bishop who his knows his people as desired by Pope Francis.
The archbishop also said the presence of people from various parts of India was the proof that the new bishop has touched the hearts of his sheep. “He is a Bishop who knows his sheep according to Pope Francis,” he said at the function held at the cathedral church in Gwalior, a major town in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal joined him to consecrate and install India’s first Pallottine bishop.
Scores of members of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, popularly known as the Pallottines, from various parts of India, Canada and the United States attended the ceremonies. They were led by their superior general Father Jacob Nambooradakkam, an Indian, based in Rome.
“It is a day of great joy to the Pallottine Family, which came to India in 1951. Although there are Pallottine bishops in other parts of the world, Bishop Thomas is the first one from India. He is God’s gift to us.”
Father Nambooradakkam agreed with Archbishop Viruthakulangara that the new prelate is “a pastor according to the heart of Jesus.” The Pallottine chief hailed Bishop Thennatt as a person who has imbibed the spirituality of Saint Vincent Pallotti (1795-1850), who founded the congregation in 1835. “In him you have a bishop who loves his people. He is now making himself available to serve the Church.”
The new bishop commended his people for the support given to his predecessor and first prelate of Gwalior, Bishop Joseph Kaithathara. “We are called to build up the Kingdom of God together, working hard hand in hand,” added the bishop who has chosen “Renew all things in Christ” as his episcopal motto.
Bishop Thennatt has worked as parish priest, director youth, family and laity commissions. He was also the rector of Khrist Premalaya Regional Theologate, Ashta and director of Commission for Formation. For six years he was the consulter of the Prabhu Prakash Province of the Pallottines at Nagpur.
Pope Francis chose him as a bishop on October 18, 2016, when he was the parish priest of St Pius X Church in Nagpur archdiocese.
Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Pandarasseril of Kottayam, who comes from the new bishop’s native parish in Kerala, said, “Bishop Thennat is the sixth missionary bishop from Kottayam archdiocese. “He is in the true sense a pastor in the expression of Pope Francis. He likes to serve the sheep in the peripheries. He is going to be a great gift to the diocese of Gwalior and to all of you. In his simplicity and humility, and unassuming character, he is a good shepherd who will be with the people and for the people.”