New Delhi, Nov. 20, 2017: Fr. Varkey Padamattumel, the senior-most Salesian of Delhi province went to his eternal reward on 19th November 2017 at 3.15 pm. He had been in and out of the hospital since the month of September with the exception of few peaceful days. Most of this time excepting a couple of weeks was spent in the ICU. He had shown signs of improvement, but gradually his health deteriorated and he breathed his last on 19th November 2017 at the age of 84.
Fr. Varkey was laid to rest on 20th November at 3 pm, in the presence of a good number of Salesians, priests, religious, relatives and friends. Most Rev. Anil Couto, the Archbishop of Delhi presided over the Funeral Mass in the Don Bosco Institute Chapel, concelebrated by more than 40 priests. The presence of Fr. Joseph Pauria, the Vice-Provincial of Kolkata, Fr. Albert, Fr. Varkey’s companion and Fr. UP Sebastian from Kolkata was a sign of great appreciation and love for Fr. Varkey. At the beginning of the Mass, Fr. Jose Mathew the provincial of New Delhi beautifully elaborated the life and mission of Fr. Varkey both in Kolkata and New Delhi provinces and thanked him for his sacrificing life at the service of the Church and the Congregation.
Fr. CA Joseph, the Rector of DBTI Okhla animated the liturgy meaningfully. He recalled how Fr. Paul, Fr. Varkey’s younger brother, accompanied him through his prayerful support and constant presence with him in the last two months. At the end of the Mass, condolences messages from Fr. Maria Arokiam and Sr. Dina Vellamaruthunkal, the Superior General of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate were read out. Fr. Joseph Pauria, Fr. Reji Tom, Fr. CA Joseph and Mr. Shaju Stephen in their touching words bid farewell to Fr. Varkey.
Fr. Jose Mathew, the Provincial together with Fr. Paul conducted the last rites in the Salesian cemetery in Provincial House, Okhla.
Fr. Varkey was born on 10th June 1933 in Aluva, Kerela. He became a Salesian on 16 April 1953 and was ordained a priest on 9 February 1964 in Turin. In his 64 years as a Salesian and 53 years as a priest, Fr. Varkey faithfully worked as a missionary in the provinces of Kolkata and New Delhi. He served both the provinces in varying capacities – some of them as the Provincial Economer of Kolkata from 1989-1995, the vicar General of the Diocese of Krishnagar (1982-1983), the Diocesan Administrator, of Krishnagar (1983-1984), Provincial Secretary, New Delhi (2003-2004).
In his Autobiography, “In Christ Jesus – Memories and Reflections” (released on the 83rd birthday), he wrote: “I am aware that I am practically at the end of a long sojourn on this beautiful earth and undertaking a journey to eternity, to the unfathomable riches of God, ‘The God of my life.’ Remember me as one loving you here and hereafter.” This is how the confreres of Delhi would like to remember Fr. Varkey – as he has ended his earthly sojourn and has begun his life in eternity. We believe that he will keep his promise to continue to love us in the hereafter!