Road accident kills barefoot priest, wounds nuns
By Matters India Reporter
Bhopal: A senior Catholic priest of Sagar diocese died on the spot and two nuns suffered injuries in a major road accident on July 29 in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
Father Thomas Paul Attummel, principal of run St Thomas Senior Secondary School, died when the car in which he was travelling collided with a parked tractor trolley and turned upside down. A speeding Bolero car coming from behind dashed against it at Ashok Nagar district, the priest’s current base.
Bishop Antony Chirayath of Sagar said the accident occurred around 10 pm on Saturday.
Father Attummel, 62, and four members of Congregation of Mother Carmel were returning from Guna Dourana after attending the feast of St Martha with St Martha Sisters when they met with the accident, Father Shaju Devasi, a Sagar diocesan priest told Matters India.
The senior priest, who sat in the front near the driver, suffered serious head injuries and died on the spot, said Father Devasi. One of the wounded nuns is said to be critical.
The priest and nuns were rushed to the nearest government hospital for immediate medical care. “We are on the way to the hospital and would update further details after reaching the hospital,” Father Devasi said around 12:30 am on July 30.
“His sudden departure is an immense loss for this missionary diocese,” said Bishop Chirayath in a condolence message. According to the prelate, Father Attummel was the fourth senior most priest of the diocese and was noted for his deep spirituality and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. “He spent hours before the Blessed Sacrament. He walked barefoot, recited countless rosaries daily. Rosary beads were always in his hands,” the bishop recalled.
Father Attummel was born on April 1, 1955, at Thanneermukkom, Cherthala in the Alappuzha district of Kerala. He was among six sons and two daughters born to Paul and Mary of Chalil parish under Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese. He and another became priests and a sister became a nun.
He had his early education at Government School, Thanneermukkom and St. Mathews High School, Kannamkara. He joined Sacred Heart Minor Seminary at Thrikkakkara and came to Nagpur in Maharashtra to study philosophy and theology at St Charles Seminary.
He was ordained a priest for Sagar Syro-Malabar diocese on April 24, 1982, by Carmelites of Mary Immaculate Bishop Clemens Thottungal.
After his ordination he served Sagar diocese in various capacities – parish priest, diocesan procurator and manager of schools and healthcare centers.
Fr. Thomas served as secretary of Madhya Pradesh Regional Education Commission from 2012 to 2017, director of seminarians from 1985 to 1993, diocesan education director from 1995 to 200 and 2006 to 2012.
He served as diocesan consulter during 1990-1995 and 2009-2011. He was the parish priest of San Thome Church and manager of St. Thomas Senior Secondary School, Ashoknagar, at the time of his death.
Father Attummel is survived by his aged mother, brothers and sisters and relatives and friends.