Global Salesian fund raiser marks 50th religious profession
By Jose Kuruvachira
Rome : A fund raiser of worldwide Don Bosco Society marks 50 years of religious profession celebrating Holy Eucharist in the very room in which Don Bosco stayed during his 20th and last visit to Rome in 1887, adjacent to the basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus near Rome’s public transportation hub Termini, 10 May 2017.
Fr George Menamparampil appointed last June to Don Bosco Headquarters in Rome celebrated the golden jubilee of his religious profession as Salesian of Don Bosco with his novitiate companion Dr. Scaria Thuruthiyil, Professor of Philosophy at the Salesian Pontifical University Rome and confreres from his home province Dimapur living in Rome.
Looking back at the past 50 years, Fr. Menamparampil affirms, “Despite my mistakes and failures, God has been really good to me and has used me to do much good.”
In a moment of confession he does not hesitate to reveal, “I realize how, throughout these 50 years, God has used me, a broken pencil, to write whatever He wanted to.”
On a grateful note Fr Menamparampil says, “God rescued and protected me from many dangers, errors and failures, and kept me going in His service.”
With no regrets of his past life Fr Menamparampil adds, “When I look back at my life, I feel that good I have been able to do to people is more than the harm I might have done to them – or at least I hope so.”
Before going to Rome, Menamparampil was founder director of Bosconet, a New Delhi-based secular organization that works for empowering the young.
Established in 2009, the organization aims to instill in the youth the mission and methodology of Saint John Bosco, who founded the Salesian congregation in 1859.
Earlier Fr Menamparampil was the chaplain of MIJARC (Mouvement International de la Jeunesse Agricole et Rurale Catholique or International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth) for two terms from 1989 to 1997. He was then based at Brussels, Belgium, catering to rural youth in many developing countries.
“My experience in MIJARC helps immensely in the new job,” says Fr Menamparampil who had to travel to remote villages in 39 countries during those years. He also learned French, Spanish, Italian and Flemish.
Fr Menamparampil’s most successful and pet project for poor youth and perhaps also the most innovative in Northeast India was Bosco Mangaal – a cost-effective system of education for the marginalised, by providing literacy centres, intensive courses, adoption of schools, educational sponsorship of children, mobile library, counselling in schools, community schools and mini-youth centres. He is the pioneer who introduced counselling in the schools of Manipur to care for HIV/AIDS infected or affected children, widows and women.
Credited for numerous publications in journals and quarterlies Fr Menamparampil’s textbook series on Value Education are highly appreciated and used by some 330,000 students each year.
The 68-year-old Salesian priest and five confreres from Dimapur province living in Rome celebrated Holy Eucharist on Wednesday 10 May 2017 in the Camerette di Don Bosco (‘Rooms of Don Bosco’) attached to the basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Rome which the saint built at the request of Pope Leo XIII who established Catholic hierarchy in india in 1886.
Emerging from the celebrations Fr Menamparampil’s confrere Fr. Deli Kapani says, “The liturgical celebration consisted of the special votive mass in honour of Don Bosco, renewal of the religious profession by the jubilarians, a homily by Fr. Menamparampil, and concluded with the blessing of Mary Help of Christians.”
Fr. Menamparampil born on 5 February 1949 at Velliyappally, Pala, Kerala, of Thomas Cheriyathu Menamparampil and Annamma Chunkapura is the seventh of their 12 children, and belongs to the ancient Christian community of Kerala, whose origin is traced back to St. Thomas the Apostle.
Recalling the family atmosphere Fr Menapamrapil says, “Our parents inculcated in us children the fundamental human values and Christian virtues of deep piety and profound religiosity, which in the course of time became a fertile soil for the flourishing of vocations to priestly and religious life.”
Among the children one is a bishop: the retired archbishop Thomas Menamparampil SDB of Guwahati; two priests: Fr. Michael Menamparampil of the diocese of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, and Fr. George the jubilarian; and a nun: Sr. Sulata (Eliamma) SNDP (Soeurs de Notre Dame de Paris) of Patna province who unfortunately died some years ago at the comparatively young age of 50.
Menaparampil’s first years as priest were spent at Don Bosco Technical School Phuentsholing Bhutan. He worked as Parish priest, Headmaster and Rector in Manipur at Chingmeirong, Tamenglong, Chingmeirong, Langjing, Phayeng and Imphal. He has also worked at Borduria, Arunachl Pradesh.
While working with Don Bosco Youth Animation India National Team in Delhi Fr Menamparampil co-ordinated all the works of the Salesians of Don Bosco for rehabilitation of the marginalised and disadvantaged youth – the ‘Young at Risk’ (YaR) – street children, slum children, drug addicts, HIV-infected, school drop-outs, tribals, dalits, orphans, and the handicapped.
He was the Founder and Chief Trustee of BOSCO AID TRUST for fundraising for religious programmes of Don Bosco institutions from 2009-2016.
Fr Menamparampil is the Founder, Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of BOSCONET from 2009-2016 – a wing of Don Bosco India, charged with fundraising within India and started to reduce the dependence of Salesian India on external support for the maintenance and expansion of its services in India.
Since 2 June 2016 he is part of the Salesian Mission office in Rome with charge to co-ordinate 30 and more fundraising offices of the Salesians of Don Bosco around the world called Don Bosco Network (DBN). He also follows up or supports the work of the congregation’s representatives at international bodies like, and the UNO, ECOSOC (The United Nations Economic and Social Council).