Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "Let us not lose hope. Let us not allow Fr Thomas's martyrdom be in vain. May his blood bring vigour and strength to his students and inspire new vocations to the priesthood," Card Oswald Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), told the Church in India. The latter is still under shock after the terrible murder of Fr K.J. Thomas, rector at St Peter's Pontifical Seminary in Bangalore (Karnataka), who was killed by unknown persons on Easter night. His funeral is set for this Saturday at Ettumanoor, his native village near Kottayam (Kerala).
At present, police are continuing their investigation into the murder, whose authors or motive is still a mystery. Students and staff at the seminary in Bangalore that Fr K.J. Thomas had run for two terms are mourning his death. All of them describe the clergyman as "a humble and good-hearted man."
As CBCI president, Card Gracias wants the Indian Church as a whole to respond "to the pain and distress caused by Fr Thomas's dreadful murder." For him, the clergyman's "murder must be a tribute to the priesthood. We priests are called to give our life to the people, devote ourselves, if necessary, to the point of death and this is what happened to Fr Thomas."
"In the Chrism Mass, Pope Francis reminded us priests that we must always be 'shepherds with the smell of sheep, as shepherds among your flock, fishers of men," the prelate noted. "A priest's life is precarious and its fulfilment lies only in serving others."
"Students loved their rector, Fr Thomas," the prelate added. "Even in his death, he will continue to inspire seminarians to dedicate their lives to Jesus. Even in death, Fr Thomas is a powerful witness, who proclaims the death and the resurrection of our Lord."