A Catholic priest’s ‘funeral will’ demands ‘simple burial’ on ‘same day’

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File photo of 78-year-old Father James Kumbukkal of Mananthavady diocese who died on June 21.

A Catholic priest in India’s Kerala state has left a “funeral will” demanding a simple burial, that too, on the same day of his death.

The 78-year-old Father James Kumbukkal of Mananthavady diocese who died on June 21 was buried as per his desires, but a day later.

Father Kumbukkal died of liver cancer had prepared a will urging his authorities to avoid all expensive way of paying homage to a departed soul, in his case.

The priest in his will written in native Malayalam language said, “I wish to get a very simple burial”.

Father Kumbukkal wants his body should be kept in the cheapest coffin, apparently, questioning the culture of expensive burials among Catholics in the southern Indian state where many use this occasion to show off their wealth and power.

The priest also appealed to the people “not to place a wreath on his body or any flower” which is a customary gesture of love towards a departed soul.

On the contrary, he wanted the amount to be spent for buying wreaths and flowers should be given to the Vianney Bhavan the home for the old priests in the diocese where he spent his last three years and it should be utilised for the welfare of those assisting the inmates.

No condolence speech

Father Kumbukkal also did not want any condolence speech during his funeral mass and wanted him to be buried on the same day of his death.

The priest also said he did not want any kind of recognition from anyone saying “My life was meant for Jesus Christ. He knows who I am. I want only recognition from Him”, the priest concludes his letter thanking the Lord for his life.

The priest also saved and deposited Indian rupee 25000 in a bank for offering tea for those who attend his burial, as he did not want any financial burden on his diocese for his funeral.

Diocesan officials have been authorised to withdraw the amount from the bank. The priest also maintained, “The remaining amount, if any, after offering tea, should be distributed among the poor”.

“We have fulfilled all his desires in the will except his burial on the same day”, said his Bishop Jose Porunnedom who led his funeral mass on June 22.

The priest died on the second half of June 21 and his relatives living in far off places could not reach Mananthavady in view of the Covid-19 lockdown in the state.

An inspiring life

Bishop Jose termed Father Kumbukkal’s life as an “inspiring one” for all as he lived a very simple life throughout.

“Father Kumbukkal’s life is an inspiring example for everyone who wants to tread the path shown by our Lord Jesus Christ”, said Father Manoj Kakkonal, who heads the media commission of Mananthavadi Diocese.

“The late priest throughout his life remained committed to his call and whereby lived like a true shepherd being with his heard of sheep”, said Father Kakkonal on June 23.

“Father Kumbukkal during his active parish ministry walked into every Christian household in his parishes regularly and always comforted them in their distresses”, Father Kakkonal added.

Father Kumbukkal supported the poor children in their education and became a reliable helping hand for the poor in all parishes where he served.

“Now in his death too he showed us the importance of being close to Christ through his will rather than seeking recognition from the external world which is of no use”, Father Kakkonal explained.

Remained happy in pain too

Father Jaimon Kalambukatt, director of the Vianney Bhavan said, “Even when writhing in pain he remained happy and never tried to show it in his face”.

The late priest also objected to taking him to any multi-speciality hospital for his treatment, instead insisted on getting treatment from any ordinary Church-run hospital.

“Father Kumbukkal was a shepherd who really had the smell of his sheep that many people whom he helped in different stages of life turned up to meet him even when Covid-19 restrictions were in force”, he said adding “obviously they all followed Covid protocols strictly.

Less than 20 people attended his burial in compliance with the Covid-19 protocols.

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