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Salesian Who Brought Free Don Bosco Education to Kolkata Slums Dies

By Father C. M. Paul
Dr. A.C. Joseph (Aymanathil)
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Kolkata, Jul. 20. A pioneer educationist who brought free Don Bosco education to Kolkata's slum children Father Joseph Aymanathil, aged 73 died in a Kolkata Hospital on 19 July 2020.  He was cremated on 20 July 2020.
Kolkata Salesian Provincial Father Joseph Pauria wrote in aWhatsApp message, ''Dear Confreres, it is with great sorrow that I communicate another sad news that Fr. Joseph Aymanathil passed away Sunday (19 July 2020) at 9.45 PM in Fortis Hospital, Kolkata.  He was 73. Fr. A. C. Jose was admitted for prostate related problems. He passed away while undergoing treatment.''

As Father Aymanathil was member of Provincial House Kolkata community, the entire Provincial House and Nitika Don Bosco complex is sealed with 21 Salesians, most of them above 60 years old.

Incidentally, 115th day of uninterrupted feeding program for COVID Relief by Father Aymanathil was held on Sunday (19 July 2020) at Kapali Bagan and Kolkata's Sealdah Railway station area.

For some 30 years, Father Aymanathil pioneered quality education of the slum children when he offered free tuition classes for children of the slums from Kolkata's Corporation schools of Tangra and Sealdah area. Some of the slums from which children and teachers came for daily classes included: Bibi Bagan, Kapali Bagan, Motijheel, Merlai Lane, Suarmari, Bamonpara, Seal Lane, Pottery Road, Dui Number Bridge, Theen Number Bridge, Palmer Bazaar, and Muchipara.

Each year, some 600 children profited from this project of Don Bosco education. Divided into primary section (2.30 pm to 4.30 pm) and senior section (5 pm to 7 pm) children used to be helped to study and do their home works in a comfortable environment with lights, fans and teachers.

''The slum children would come with clean dress and on time, were disciplined, eager to learn and proud to say that they were studying at Don Bosco,'' testified Mr. Lokhan, retired Security Guard at Nitika Don Bosco.

Popularly known as Dr. A.C., Father Aymanathil was the first Salesian of Kolkata province who secured a doctoral degree in Canon Law from Salesian University Rome in 1989, and served also on Calcutta Archdiocesan Tribunal for several years.

As a Canon Lawyer, Father Aymanathil was specialized in marriage rectification as well as consultant for laicisation of priests and religious for several congregations and dioceses.

Alumnus of Salesian College Sonada 1973 batch, Father Aymanathil did his theological studies in Kristu Jyoti College Bangalore and was ordained priest on 19 December 1977 at Pannimattam, Pala diocese, Kerala.

After serving as assistant parish priest in Murshidabad and Nadia missions like Polsonda More, Joypur, and Ranaghat, he went to Rome in 1984 for doctoral studies in Church Law. On his return from Rome he was posted in Kolkata Provincial House, Auxilium Parish and Nitika Don Bosco from 1989 to 2020.

From 2003, Father was the Spiritual director of Calcutta Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (CCCRS) Group. In 2006, he pioneered the Bible Study program at Archbishop's House Kolkata.

Author of several books like: Kid's Catechism; Bible Colouring Book; Spoken English with Value Education; Bible Commentary (4 Volumes); Healing and Deliverance; Bible Verses (Chonde Bible) in Bengali; Two audio cassette albums for millennium in Bengali folk music covering major events of Old Testament and Life of Jesus.

''The City of Joy Kolkata has lost a good and holy Priest, a true and sincere man of God and the Spiritual Director of the CCCRS Group,'' testifies Mr. Rahul Sequeira, a CCCRS member who has known the priest for 20 years.

His former provincial, Father. E. A. Thomas currently in Sri Lanka says, ''You did such great service to the church, the Salesian congregation and to the poor wherever you ministered! We miss you. The poor will miss you more!''

Prof. George Thadathil, Principal of Salesian College where Father Aymanathil studied writes, ''Adieu Fr A.C. Joseph. You have shown us the way to be a missionary (in Bhirbum in the 80s), a Scholar, Researcher, Canonist and Consultant, CCCRS promoter through publications, the solace to the downtrodden and the marginalised of the neighbourhood in the city by bringing benefactors from far away shores to their need, and a spiritually motivated person in all that you did or spoke. May you be warmly received among the saints in heaven.''
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