By Sunil Rosario
Rome, Feb. 3, 2019: An Indian has been reappointed the provincial of the Divine Word Society’s the Netherlands-Belgium Province (NEB).
Father Avin Kunnekkaden was the first non-European to head the province when he was elected first time in 2016. His second term will last from May 1 this year to April 30, 2023.
Father Kunnekkaden was born in 1960 at Kalady, Kerala, and ordained a priest in 1992. He has a doctorate in Indian philosophy and religions from Madras University. He joined NEB province in 2005 and worked as university chaplain for the international students of various institutes in the Netherlands.
He also serves the Good Shepherd Parish Schiedam Vlaardingen and Maasluis.
Father Kunnekkaden is part of reverse missionaries flow.
In the past, many Westerner missionaries came to India and took deeper interest to understand literature, Indian culture, music and dance to work in the field of inculturation. The SVD missionaries from Germany, Spain, and Portugal came to serve India and sowed the seed of evangelization.
Notable among them were Fathers Engelbert Zeitler andGeorge Proksch who dedicated their lives to the growth of cultural mission in India. They are hailed as the pioneers in the mission of Inculturation, especially during the Post Second Vatican council period.
Now it is the time for Indian and Asian missionaries to give back similar missionary endeavors to Europe and the West.
As a missionary in Europe, Father Kunnekkaden espouses the great Indian tradition in spirituality in the cultural milieu of the Western world where vocations are meagre and the congregation faces a unique cultural crisis against secularization and post-modern thoughts.
He has specialized and mastered Sanskrit, a classical language and a strong foundation to understand Indian Philosophy and Hindu religion.
Father Kunnekkaden acknowledges that giving leadership to the Western secularized society in Europe is a real challenge. “A culture of dialogue in mission with collaborative leadership, being truly human in approach to the issues affecting society is the test of our time,” he says.
Father Kunnekkaden bring to Europe the vision of Asian Triple Dialogue mission — dialogue with the poor, with cultures and with world religions.
In such challenging times, Christianity in the world in a global perspective has become a real test to be the ‘salt and light’ to all nations, he adds.