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Sexton arrested for Kerala Priest’s murder

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Malayattoor: Kerala police today arrested Johny, the prime suspect in the murder of Father Xavier Thelakkat, who was stabbed to death on March 1 . Johny was a sexton employed at St Thomas Mount at Malayattoor in Ernakulam district which was overseen by Father Thelakkat.

The accused will be produced before a magistrate on Friday or Saturday.

Johny stabbed Father Xavier Thelakat after a heated argument while the two were climbing the mount. He later escaped into forest surrounding the pilgrimage site.

The 52-year priest, who is the rector of the pilgrimage center, was rushed to Little Flower Hospital in Angamaly. However the hospital, managed by Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, declared the priest dead on arrival.

Early reports indicate that Johny was upset after the priest sacked him three months ago. He has been pressing Father Thelakat to take him back.

Malayattoor is some 50 km northeast of Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala.

The place draws thousands of pilgrims who come to climb to the shrine on the hilltop praying the Way of the Cross during the lent season.

The incident occurred around 12 noon at the sixth station of the Way of the Cross on March 1.

What does a sexton do?

Among the traditional duties of the sexton in small parishes was the digging of graves—the gravedigger in Hamlet refers to himself as sexton, for example. In modern times, grave digging is usually done by an outside contractor. The general duties of a modern sexton may include (but are not limited to):

  • Operation and maintenance of mechanical systems, such as refrigerators, boilers, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units, hot water systems, kitchen equipment, and piping systems (i.e. gas, water, fire protection, and sewer systems).
  • Liaison with routine contract maintenance & supply companies regarding fire and safety, pest control and cleaning, etc.
  • Ordering/receiving supplies and equipment.
  • Aesthetic appearance, security, and fire protection.
  • Logistics for events on church calendar (chairs/tables, lighting, acoustics, audio/video, etc.)
  • Emergency response during bad weather, etc.
  • Other building and grounds tasks not handled by a contract service and/or church volunteers, such as the replacement of ceiling light bulbs, returning premises to a neat and orderly state following services and events, disposal of rubbish, and running any local errands or trips that are needed by the church.
  • Maintaining the grounds, including grass cutting, hedge trimming and tree works.
  • Providing security throughout the church and following building code.
  • Report all complete with supervisors.
    Report any mishaps with supervisors.

Pray for:

  1. Sexton Johny that he will seek God’s forgiveness
  2. That Father Xavier’s family will be able to forgive Johny
  3. For the drinking problem that is so prevalent in the state of Kerala.

(From Matters India with input from ChristianMetro)

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