Jhabua mourns the death of its young Bishop Basil Bhuriya from COVID-19
by Nirmala Carvalho

The prelate, 65, died after struggling with the disease for a month. His death follows that of Archbishop Emeritus Antony Anandarayar, of Pondicherry and Cuddalore.


Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church in India is mourning the death from coronavirus of two bishops within days of each other.

Bishop Basil Bhuriya of Jhabua (Madhya Pradesh), a 65-year-old Verbite, died yesterday from cardiac arrest at St Francis Hospital in Indore where he had been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19 on 3 April. He was apparently recovering from the infection when he suddenly passed away.

Bishop Bhuriya’s death follows that of Archbishop Emeritus Antony Anandarayar of Pondicherry and Cuddalore, also from COVID-19 on Tuesday.

These two deaths add to the heavy toll India’s Catholic Church is bearing in the past few weeks as the new wave of the pandemic sweeps across the land. As of yesterday, local health authorities officially reported 414,188 new cases and 3,915 deaths in just 24 hours.

Bishop Bhuriya was laid to rest in a funeral held today at Meghnagar Cemetery. After falling ill with COVID-19, he was in intensive care for weeks.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Bishop of Jhabua, a young bishop who served just six years and was loved by the people,” said Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal of Indore speaking to AsiaNews.

“He was a kind shepherd, and will be greatly missed,” added the prelate, a fellow Verbite. “After treatment, he tested negative, but his oxygen levels were low. We commend his soul to Our Merciful Father, and offer our condolences to the people of Jhabua, who lost their compassionate shepherd.”

Before he became a bishop, Basil Bhuriya “was a missionary who served in several parishes and taught for over nine years at the St Thomas Seminary in Mhow,” said Father Joemon James, who is Verbite provincial superior for India

The prelate was a “in the provincial administration of the  SVD central Indian Province, Indore for two terms,” he told AsiaNews. “As a bishop he was known for his simplicity, unassuming nature and spirituality. I salute him for his inspiring life as the pastor of Jhabua diocese.”

The Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, John Barwa, also spoke to AsiaNews about the late bishop: “The Church at large, especially the Indian Church and the Society of the Divine Word in particular, have lost a young, energetic and beloved people's pastor.”

“As  friends and companions we lived together from the first days of education until the final days of our priestly ordinations. He was a simple, hard working, dedicated pastor. He had a large heart for the poor and marginalised. The gap created by his passing will remain, forever.”