New Delhi: As many as 15 Catholic priests in India have succumbed to the coronavirus pandemic between April 20 and 23, according to available information.
They were among more than 20 priests the Church lost to Covid-19 in the past one month.
The Church in India has a little over 30,000 priests, both diocesan and religious.
The latest victim was Father Lijo Thomas of the archdiocese of Nagpur, who died April 23 afternoon at Christ Hospital, Chandrapur in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. He was 38.
Earlier in the day, the Dumka diocese in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand lost Father S Christudas, a tribal activist. The 58-year-old priest had recovered from Covid-19 a few days ago, but died after a fall in the bathroom.
On the same day, the deadly virus claimed Fathers Srinivasan, a member of the Madurai Jesuit province, Diago Dsouza of Bombay Jesuit province and Arulsamy of the archdiocese of Bhopal in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
A day earlier, Fathers Martin Anthony of the archdiocese of Bangalore, Vincent Nazareth of Lucknow diocese and Praveen Hrudayaraj, a member of the Karnataka Jesuit province, died of Covid.
The diocese of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh state lost Father Basant Lakra on April 21. The same day saw the deaths of Fathers George Karamayil of the Patna Jesuit province, Thomas Akkara of the Divine World Society, Joseph Cherusseril of Raipur archdiocese and Theodore Toppo of the Carmelites of Immaculate congregation in Jagdalpur diocese.
The archdiocese of Raipur in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh on April 20 lost Father Antony Kunnath, the 78-year-old parish priest Mahasamund. On the same day, Covid-19 claimed Father Sanjay Francis, assistant parish priest of Vailankanni Matha Church, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh and a member of the Meerut diocese.
The Catholic Press Association of India on April 23 mourned the death of Father Lijo, who was the former public relations officer of the Nagapur archdiocese. He had also served as the secretary of the Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara of Nagpur.
Mourning the death of Father Christudas, Gladson Dung Dung, an activist in Jharkhand, says the tribal society in Jharkhand would be “eternally indebted” to the priest who had worked hard for their advancement.
According to him, Father Christudas had overcome the Covid-19 infection and returned to his house in Dumka on April 23. However, he had a fall in the bathroom that led to profuse bleeding from the head. His companions rushed him to the hospital, but was declared dead on arrival.
According to Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore, Father Anthony, who parish priest Kristha Krupalaya Church, Veerabhadra Nagara, Hosakerehalli died at 2:30 pm on April 22 in St Michael’s Hospital, Bengaluru. He was diagnosed a Covid positive but death came from a massive heart attack.
Source: Matters India