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First Indian Salesian General Councilor Dies

By C.M. Paul
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Kolkata, Apr. 24.  Fr. Thomas Panakezham also known as P.C. Thomas died at the hospice of the Little Sisters of the Poor, Hosur Road, Bangalore, at 2.25 pm on 24th April 2021. He was 91 years old.
Fr Panakezham was the first Indian Salesian to be provincial of Chennai and first Indian to serve on the Salesians of Don Bosco General Council in Rome as Regional of Australasia for 18 years  from 1977 to 1996.

After the term of office as General Councillor, Fr Panakezham was rector at Studentate of Philosophy Aluva and later as spiritual director at Viswadeep Centre for Catechetical studies in Bangalore.

During his 18 year tenure as General Councilor, Mumbai Salesian province was divided from Chennai, then Bangalore from Chennai, Dimapur from Guwahati, Hyderabad from Bangalore and New Delhi from Kolkata provinces.

The first great step towards missionary enterprise from India was started during his tenure when Indian Salesian provinces took up Project Africa in 1981. Today East Africa is a flourishing province. Slowly Salesians entered Nepal and Yemen. Hesitant efforts were also made to send confreres to certain places in Europe.

The Salesians also entered into Papua New Guinea. Cautious beginning was made to start something in Mainland China. Also, Japan ventured into Solomon Islands.

Fr. Panakezham Thomas was born, January 27, 1930 and made his first profession on May 24, 1950. He was ordained priest on July 2, 1960.

A Festschrift under the title: Mary Today: Fundamental Issues and New Directions in Mariology edited by Fr Joy Kaipan released in 2010 by Kristu Jyoti Publications honoured Fr. Panakezham on his Diamond Jubilee of his Religious Profession and the Golden Jubilee of his Ordination to the Priesthood. The well-researched articles in this volume deal with relevant themes connected with the Blessed Virgin Mary from the viewpoint of Scripture, Tradition, Theology and the day-to-day living out of Marian spirituality. END
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