This Women’s Day we honour the Mother of slain Kerala priest who forgives killer and family

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It is not often we hear of an aged, grieving mother pardoning her son’s killer and visiting his house to console his wife and children.

That is what Thresiamma, mother of Fr Xavier Thelekkat (52), Rector of the St Thomas Church at Malayattoor, a Christian pilgrimage centre in Kerala’s Ernakulam district, who was stabbed to death by a former verger of the church a few days ago, did the other day, thus becoming a great symbol of moral and spiritual strength and compassion. Thresiamma had travelled several kilometers on Sunday afternoon to reach the house of Johnny (56) of Vattapparambil, the former sexton who on March 1 stabbed her son to death in the forest area near his church, to console Annie, who has been left alone in the house after her husband was remanded in judicial custody.

Tears welled in the eyes of all those present at the house during Thresiamma’s visit there when she held fast Annie to her bosom and whispered to her, “Let us forget and forgive. Let us submit everything to God.” Thresiamma also assured Annie that she had already pardoned Johnny.Unable to find the right words to express her gratitude, Annie sobbed uncontrollably and repeatedly pleaded for forgiveness through tears as Thresiamma held her in her reassuring embrace and kept caressing her shoulders. Thresiamma also consoled Annie’s two daughters who were at the house at the time of her visit.

Thresiamma had arrived at Johnny’s house along with the murdered Rector’s siblings and other relatives. The emotional intensity of the situation was so high that immediately after the departure of Thresiamma, Annie broke down, collapsed on the floor of the house and had to be taken to hospital.

Johnny, former verger of the church at Kurisumudi, Malayattoor, stabbed the Rector on March 1 at the Sixth Stage of the pilgrimage route. The priest, who had suffered stab injuries in the leg and thigh, was taken to a hospital at Angamaly, the nearest town, but life could not be saved. Johnny, who fled into the forest after the attack, was caught the following day.

Johnny later told the police that he had attacked the Rector out of his anger towards him as he had suspended him from the job of sexton three months ago citing moral turpitude. Pleading for forgiveness, Johnny said, “I had never wanted to kill him. It happened somehow.” Local people said Johnny was not a trouble-maker and was known for his readiness to help people.

According to Annie, her husband had no intention to kill the priest. “He is not a drunkard. He is a good man, a believer. However, all this has happened and I am sure that he is repenting over it,” she said, adding that Jonny was extremely perturbed over the loss of job. He had pleaded with the Rector several times for reinstating him, she said.

Syro-Malabar Catholic Church head Cardinal Mar George Alencherry had during the funeral service for Fr Xavier Thelekkat on Saturday said that the Church and the believers’ community had pardoned the Rector’s killer. The Cardinal had also asked the believers to pray for Johnny’s family.

(Pic below: Johnny)

The incident

Fr Thelakat belonged to the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, of the Syro-Malabar rite, and was the rector of the sanctuary of St Thomas in Malayattoor, a famous pilgrimage destination. Jomy worked as the sacristan at the sanctuary for 37 years. As Jomy used to come to church in an inebriated state, Fr Thelakkat fired him from his job three months ago.

On March 1, Jomy visited Fr Thelakat asking if he could be get his job back. When Thelakkat refused, he stabbed him in his leg and fled.

Jomy was arrested the next day. Head of Kalady police station Saji Markose said that Jomy was in a precarious condition and had attempted suicide but had failed. “He admitted to his crime and said that he did not intend to kill the priest but only attack him,” Markose told reporters.

But Xavier suffered grievous injuries and bled to death, while being rushed to a hospital in nearby Angamaly.

The body of the priest was handed over to the Church authorities after autopsy. The funeral was held on March 3.

(Pic above: Father Xavier)

Pray for:

Healing for both families who were part of this tragedy

(With significant inputs form Daily Pioneer and Daijiworld)

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