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Pope appoints a Salesian as Bishop of a new diocese in Tamil Nadu

By Antony Christy SDB
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Kolkata, Dec. 22.   . CHENNAI:  Rev. Fr. Jeromedhas Varuvel SDB, belonging to the Salesian Province of Chennai (INM) has been nominated as the Bishop of Kuzhithurai, a new diocese carved out of Kottar diocese in Tamilnadu, South India. The official announcement was made at 16.30 hours, IST today.
Fr. Jeromedhas Varuvel is presently the Director of Novices at Idhaya Deepam Salesian Novitiate situated at Yellagiri in the province of Chennai. He was born on 21 October, 1951 in Paduvoor, diocese of Kottar.

Answering God's call to be a priest, he joined the diocesan seminary in 1968 and continued right up to his philosophical training at Sacred Heart Seminary, Poonamallee. It was in 1976 that he heard the call within this call and discerned his vocation to be a Salesian.

He entered the Salesian Novitiate in 1977 and made his first profession on 24 May 1978. He made his perpetual profession on 24 May 1981 and began his theological formation at Salesian Pontifical University, Rome. He has a bachelor's degree in Economics, and a Masters in Pedagogy from Salesian Pontifical University in Rome. Ordained a priest by the Holy Father St. John Paul II on 2 June 1985, he returned to India in 1986 and became the Vice Rector of the Novitiate of the Province in Coimbatore till 1990.

From 1990 he served as the Rector of the Pre-Novitiate for four years. After two years as dean of students of Theology at AMSAM, Tiruchy, in 1996 he assumed office as Rector and parish priest of St. Mary's Co-cathedral, Armenian Street Chennai - a post he held until 2001.

Apart from having served the province of Chennai as a Provincial Councillor from 1999 to 2003, he has held office as the Director of Kalvi Solai, the department for Coordination of Education and Culture in the province. His seven years of service at Don Bosco Thalavadi (2003 - 2010) was a great boon to the tribal mission taken up in that area.

In the year 2010, he was entrusted with the important task of directing the Novices of the Salesian provinces of Chennai  and Trichy.  He has been Rector and Director of Novices at Don Bosco Idaya Deepam, Yelagiri Hills till date.

Fr. Jerome is known for his heart for the poor and his loving ways with everyone around. His gentleness and firmness combine in such a unique manner that he has been thus far a runaway success in every field: formation, social ministry or pastoral care.

The choice of Fr. Jerome comes at a time when two of the three Salesian bishops in Tamil Nadu, in these past three years, have laid down their office having reached the age of retirement. ''It is the best Christmas gift our province has ever received,'' said the Provincial, Rev. Fr. Jayapalan, communicating the official announcement to those gathered at a Christmas gathering in the Provincial House in Chennai.

Not merely for the province of Chennai, but for the entire Salesian India this is indeed a bountiful gift in the bicentenary year of Don Bosco's birth.
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