Kochi: Archbishop Dr. Joseph Attipetty, the first indigenous head of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Kerala, was proclaimed a Servant of God, the initial endorsement for his Cause for sainthood in the Universal Church, in a solemn thanksgiving holy mass at St. Francis Assisi Cathedral, Broadway, Ernakulam, on Tuesday, the 50th anniversary of his death.
As Metropolitan Archbishop Dr Joseph Kalathiparambil of Verapoly, the competent Ordinary of the Cause, promulgated the official decree declaring Archbishop Attipetty as Servant of God, the Cathedral bells rang out, peeling in exultation as the congregation chanted in unison: Thanks be to God.
Initiating the long process of canonical investigations into the life and deeds of the Servant of God to establish his virtues – theological, cardinal and auxiliary – and fame of sanctity during his lifetime, at the moment of his death and afterlife, Archbishop Kalathiparambil unveiled the portrait of the Servant of God and invoked a prayer for canonisation. “He was a man of God, who lived an exemplary life of holiness and virtues, full of piety and spiritual grace, sanctifying the lives of the people of God entrusted to his pastoral care,” said Archbishop Kalathiparambil.
Archbishop Emeritus Dr. Francis Kallarakal, Kerala Region Latin Catholic Bishops’ Council President Bishop Dr. Joseph Kariyil of Cochin, Bishop Dr. Joseph Karikkassery of Kottapuram, Bishop Dr. Sebastian Thekethecheril of Vijayapuram, Bishop Dr. Alex Vadakumthala of Kannur, Bishop Dr. Selvister Ponnumuthann of Punalur and Bishop Dr. James Raphael Anaparambil as concelebrants. Metropolitan Vicar of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese Archbishop Mar Antony Kariyil was present at the altar.
A large congregation of the clergy, the religious and the faithful from the Archdiocese of Verapoly and Kottapuram diocese, which was part of the vast ecclesiastical territory under Attipetty’s jurisdiction, joined together in exultation singing Te Deum Laudamus, and Gloria in Excelsius Deo, the hymns of praise and thanksgiving, during the Eucharistic celebrations officiated by Archbishop Kalathiparambil.
Fr. Ebigin Arackal, the Chancellor the Archdiocese, read the Latin text of the Nihil Obstat signed by Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in approval of the request made by Archbishop Kalathiparambil for authorisation from the Holy See for instituting the Cause of Attipetty on July 21, 2019.
A voluminous dossier, with testimonies from 40 witnesses, including two archbishops, six bishops and two monsignori who had personal experiences associated with the candidate, was submitted to Rome at the culmination of the preliminary stage of investigation at the Archdiocese of Verapoly and the Diocese of Kottapuram. Now, an ecclesiastical tribunal will be constituted by the archbishop to pursue further investigations and meticulous scrutiny of documentation as part of the canonisation process. Fr. Andrews Alexander, a Capuchin friar, is the postulator for the Cause.
Bishop Karikkassery, in his homily recollected the magnificent contributions made by Archbishop Attipetty, who according to his Episcopal motto, “I became all things to all men,” galvanised the society into various activities for the uplift of the people, spiritually, intellectually, economically and socially.
Rev. Dr. Job Vazhakoottathil, as master of ceremony, introduced the liturgical proceedings and Monsignor Joseph Padiyaramparambil, rector, St. Francis Assisi Cathedral, along with Monsignor Mathew Kallingal and Monsignor Mathew Elanjimittam, vicars general of the archdiocese, led the final procession towards the crypt of the tomb of the Servant of God to install his portrait and to begin the prayer for canonisation, marking the 50th commemoration of his death.
Chevaliers Dr. Primus Perincherry, Dr. Henry Anjiparambil, Dr. Tony Fernandez and Hibi Eden M.P, T.J. Vinod MLA, former minister Dominic Presentation, KRLCC Vice President Shaji George were among the dignitaries present.
Earlier, a torch rally, led by the youth under the banner of the Kerala Catholic Youth Movement – Latin, accompanied by a fleet of motorbikes and vehicles from the Cruz Milagris parish church, Kurisinkal, Ochanthuruth on Vypeen island where the Servant of God was born, was received at the cathedral by the rector and parishioners.