India’s “gutter priest” passes away

By: Matters India Reporter

Ernakulam: Fr. George Koottickal, who founded a congregation to care for vagabonds and deranged people, died in the early hours of December 20. He was 64.

The founder director of the Friends of the Birds of the Air (FBA) was undergoing treatment for some time for liver disease at a private hospital in Ernakulam. He was discharged mid December, but his condition deteriorated while recovering at  Marvallah Dayara Ashram in Malayattoor, Kerala.

Fr. Koottickal, a member of the Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, was inspired to work for the poor after observing the meticulous care given by a group of naturalists who were closely studying Siberian birds at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary at Rajasthan in 1983.

These naturalists showed such genuine love and concern for the birds by naming, numbering and  maintaining medical reports which were sent to their Siberian counterparts before the birds would return to their motherland.

This gesture of love and concern expressed to these birds of the air was a great moment of divine inspiration to  Fr. Koottickal. He was reminded of the thousands of human beings abandoned by everyone on the streets whom he considered to be created in God’s own likeness and image. Many of them die on the streets.

It is these forsaken human beings that inspired Fr. Koottickal to name his mission ” The Birds of the Air”

FBA works to reach out to people who are in crisis with depression, addiction to smoking, alcohol and drugs, those with behavioural problems or suicidal tendencies.

The first unit of FBA at Chennaippara (Thrissur, Kerala), functioning as a training and retreat centre was inaugurated by St Mother Teresa of Calcutta on July 19, 1994. Thereafter similar units of FBA have been formed at different states in India.


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3 thoughts on “India’s “gutter priest” passes away

  1. Rev. Fr. Fr. George Koottickal, made it practical the real worship by picking the destitute, rotten and stinky from streets into his Asharamas all over India, wash them, feed them and allowed them to sit before the Blessed Sacrament day and night. A great service nobody so far attempted and a eye opening act, and perfect exemplary.

    “The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven, and will help bring about everlasting peace on earth,”

    – Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
    “When I was in Church waiting for confession, I saw the same rays (that is, as those depicted on the revealed image of the Divine Mercy) issuing from the monstrance and they spread throughout the church. This lasted all through the service. After the benediction (the rays came forth) on both sides and returned again to the monstrance. Their appearance was bright and clear as crystal. I asked Jesus that He deign to light the fire of His love in all souls that were cold. Beneath these rays a heart will be warmed even if it were like a block of ice; even if it were as hard as rock, it will crumble into dust,”

    – St. Faustina Kowalska

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