By: Matters India Reporter
Kottayam,Kerala: Kuriakose Kunnassery, the first Syro Malabar archbishop of the Kottayam and spiritual leader of Knanaya Catholics, passed away on June 14. He was 88. He was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Kottayam.
The archdiocese has made arrangements for the public to pay respects to the late archbishop on June 16 at the Kristuraja Cathedral (Christ the King Cathedral), Kottayam from 2 pm onward. The funeral will be conducted in the same church at 2 pm on June 17.
Archbishop Kunnassery was born on September 11, 1928, at Kaduthuruthy in Kottayam district. After completing his primary school education from local St. Michael’s school, he joined the Mangalapuzha Seminary at Aluva and Propaganda College in Rome for priestly studies.He was ordained a priest by Cardinal Clement Mikare on December 21, 1955.
The late prelate obtained a doctorate in Theology and the Canon Law from the Pontifical Urban and Pontifical Lateran Universities in Rome. He also obtained his Master’s degree in Politics from Boston College, USA.
On his return from Rome, he served as the secretary to Bishop Thomas Tharayil and was the chancellor of Kottayam diocese. He was also the editor of ‘Apna Des’ – the official magazine of Archdiocese of Kottayam and chaplain of Caritas Secular institute, rendering dedicated service in health care and social work.
On December 9, 1967, Father Kunnassery was appointed the coadjutor bishop of Kottayam by Pope Paul VI while he was serving as the rector of Thiruhridayakunnu Minor Seminary. On February 24 , 1968, he was ordained bishop by Cardinal Maximillian de Furstenberg, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
At the retirement of Bishop Thomas Tharayil, he took charge of the Diocese of Kottayam on May 5, 1974, and was subsequentally consecrated as the first archbishop of Kottayam on May 9, 2005. He retired on Jan 14, 2006.
In addition to Malayalam and English the late bishop was well versed in Italian, Latin, French, German and Syriac. He served the regional, national and Universal Church in various capacities and was a member of Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. He had a long tenure as the Chairman of the Ecumenical and Inter-religious Dialogue Commission of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India.
Archbishop Kunnassery held offices in Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Council and the Syro-Malabar Bishop’s Conference and was a member of permanent synod of the Syro-Malabar Archiepiscopal Church and member of Commission for Ecumenism. He also served as the Chairman of the St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Alwaye and Chairman of the St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, Kottayam. He was the Vice Chancellor of the Paurastiya Vidyapeedam (Institute For Oriental Religious Studies), Vadavathoor.