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Nagpur archbishop dies of heart attack in New Delhi 

By Jose Kavi

New Delhi: Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara of Nagpur died of a massive heart attack in the early hours of April 19 in New Delhi.

“With deep sorrow and sadness I have to inform you that Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara passed away of a massive heart attack in New Delhi in the early hours of the morning today. Let us pray that God rewards him abundantly for his dedicated services to God and his people on this earth,” says a message from the Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) on April 19.

The 74-year-old archbishop was attending a meeting at the CBCI headquarters in the national capital. He had joined 30 other prelates at a candlelight prayer meeting in memory of an 8-year-old rape victim held in front of gate of adjoining Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Another message from Father Jerome Pinto, vicar general of the archdiocese of Nagpur expresses “great regret” in the “sudden demise of our beloved” archbishop. “Further details will be informed soon,” the priest says.

Archbishop Viruthakulangara was a prelate for the past 42 years. He was known for his zeal for the mission that had led him from Kerala in southern India to remote tribal villages of central Indian region.

“I wanted to proclaim the Gospel to the people who had not yet heard about Christ. Even today the same zeal burns me,” the prelate had told priests, nuns and lay people who on July 13 attended the ruby jubilee of his ordination as a bishop.

Reminding the priests and religious that they are called to serve the same mission, the archbishop had cautioned them not to lose their goal. “When our missionary activities do not have this aim, they become mere social work, and we become just social workers,” he added.

He was only 34 in 1977 when he was appointed the first bishop of Khandwa, a predominantly tribal diocese in Madhya Pradesh, central India.

He was the 100th Indian Catholic bishop since the hierarchy was established in the country in 1986.

Archbishop Viruthakulangara (center) at the candlelight prayer

Father Lijo Mampoothara, public relations officer of the archdiocese, then applauded Archbishop Viruthakulangara for bringing unity among various religions in Nagpur and surroundings areas.

Nagpur is the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (national volunteers corps), the umbrella organization for Hindu rightwing groups. The National Council of Churches in India, the association of Protestant Orthodox Churches in the country, also has its base in the city.

The prelate was born on June 5, 1943, in Kuruppunthara, a village in Kottayam district of Kerala. After his ordination in 1969, he worked among Gond tribal people for eight years until his appointment as a bishop. During his 20 years in Khandwa he had helped local Christians to bond with their Hindu and Muslim neighbors, Fr Mampoothara recalled.

The young prelate’s proficiency in the tribal language helped him reach out to thousands and transform their lives. Mother Teresa, who visited Khandwa in those days, commended his zeal and commitment to the tribal mission.

He was appointed the Archbishop of Nagpur on April 22, 1998, with the motto “Radiating Christ.”

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20 Responses to Nagpur archbishop dies of heart attack in New Delhi

  1. Dr.Fr.Shaji E Stanislaus

    Archbishop Abraham Viruthkulangara was a simple and humble person. He was very social and generous in his activities to all sections of the people in the society. RSS leaders were respecting him in Nagapur. May the good soul find in peace with the Lord.

  2. Steepest Hansda


  3. Steepest Hansda


  4. Thankapan vaidhyar

    An archbishop led with the wisdom of the Lord… Oh great soul, Please interced in heaven for the CBCI and effective evangelisation in India, specially North India


    Heartfelt condolences. May his soul rest in peace!

  6. Fr. Joe Mannath SDB

    I always found Bishop Abraham a simple, loving, approachable and positive human being. He could relate with persons of different backgrounds and age groups. He radiated goodness and joy.

  7. purushottam

    Great soul is in Heaven

  8. Ladislaus Louis D'Souza

    Genial man, a man of God. Saw and met him for the first and the last time only a little over a year ago when the Indian Catholic Press Association had its AGM and National Convention of Christian journalist in Nagpur. Simple, unassuming and gentle – as only a Shepherd with the smell of sheep can be! May the Lord whom he obviously loved much, reward him abundantly! R.I.P. Your Grace!

  9. Daniel Massey


  10. Marion Mathew CJ Allahabad

    A great misionary has been called to eternal life . May God grant him eternal life. Heartfelt condolences to the Diocese of Nagpur.
    Sr.Marion Mathew CJ Allahabad

  11. Domnic Anthony

    facebook is flooded with the selfies/photos taken with Archbishop Abraham & post of people . this itself is sufficient to realise that how social, ever youthful, harmonious and Popular he was by nature

  12. Domnic Anthony

    its really shocking. yesterday only i was discussing with a priest, about Bishops sound health, and thought that he wil serve the diocese for may be 2-3 years more, after his retirement next month… he has been a fatherly figure to thousands of people.

  13. A. S. Mathew

    His passion for evangelism was deeply touching. We lost a great solider of CHRIST. Heartfelt condolence to the bereaved family.

  14. Xavier khadiya

    May the good Lord Jesus Christ bless him through the ministry that he had done in his garden

  15. David kuriakose

    Heartfelt condolences

  16. Fr Santhiyagu. S

    May his soul Rest in peace!

  17. Anila

    A real dedicated missionary has passed away. May his soul rest in peace.

  18. longkhang tekwa


  19. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    He served the nation with dedication and distinction. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let your perpetual light shine upon Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara.

  20. Vimla thomas

    Hearty condolences to all of you in the diocese and all who are dear and near to him.
    Sr.Vimla Thomas.Jhansi.