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We Will Miss a Legend... Fr C. Thomas breathes his last

By Fr Therampil Jose sdb
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Hyderabad, Apr. 6. The Salesian Province of Hyderabad, lost another of its stalwarts in the person of Fr Chinnappa Thomas on April 5, 2015 (Easter Sunday) at 1 pm while undergoing treatment at CMC, Vellore.  He was 78 years old when he breathed his last. He would be eternally remembered for his deep spirituality, love for the poor and simple lifestyle.  He had a theologian's mind, a musician's soul and a pastor's heart. The funeral is scheduled for April 8, 2015 at 4 pm at Don Bosco Philosophate, Karunapuram.
Fr C. Thomas, or Acharya as he was fondly called, was born in Madras on December 18, 1937.  He made his first and perpetual profession at Yecaud in 1960 and 1966 respectively. He was ordained on his birthday in the year 1969 at Madras.  He spent the last 46 years in the Province of Hyderabad as a missionary during which he pioneered the Salesian mission in three places: Mangalagiri, Punganur and Sodum.  Don Bosco Prem Nivas, Mangalagiri was the first of its kind in the whole Salesian congregation to cater to the needs of physically challenged children. Towards the latter part of his life, the ashram he painstakingly built up was his heart and soul. Though it was taken back by the diocese, he still remained attached to all those who were associated with it, till his last breath.  

As a person he was soft-spoken and unassuming. He was a person who was able to integrate theology with compassion. Among his admirers are hundreds of men who once were orphans or semi-orphans and were brought up by him and are now well placed in society. Everyone who knew Fr C. Thomas would vouch for the fact that the person is all that mattered for him.  Nothing else, neither religion nor caste, mattered.  

He had unflinching faith in God and connectivity to the people around him. He immersed himself in the problems of the people.  Life's blows slowed him down but could not break him because his spirit was warmed at the fire of prayer and enthusiasm. He was one of the spiritual icons of the Province of Hyderabad.  

Given his gentle frame, even a slight breeze would move his body, but his heart was always tender and moved at the slightest difficulty faced by those with him.  Though his own family was well placed in society, he lived a life of utter poverty: his personal belongings could hardly fill two small size travel bags (of which half would be plastic bags, wiping cloth pieces, and some souvenirs for distribution).   His work breathed nothing but love. The very fabric of his life was woven with God's infinite goodness and compassion.  He exuded unadulterated love and concern.

For the last three years prior to being in Punganur, he was the confessor in the Philosophate at Kondadaba (for one year) and at Don Bosco Philsophate, Karunapuram (2012-2014). It was ardent love for ashram life that pulled him to Punganur and that's where he breathed his last.  


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