Fr K J Thomas of St Peter’s Seminary murdered, archbishop condemns act
Daijiworld Media Network – Bangalore
Bangalore, Apr 1: Archbishop of Bangalore Dr Bernard Moras has condoled the shocking demise of Fr K J Thomas, rector of St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, who was found murdered at the Seminary here on Monday April 1.
A media release signed by the archbishop stated:
“Today early morning I received the shocking and the sad news of the most brutal murder of Fr K J Thomas, Rector of St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, Bangalore in the early hours of 1st April. I immediately rushed to the Seminary to initiate the Investigation. The top police officials came to the spot and are investigating this murder case and, meanwhile, his body was taken to M S Ramaiah Hospital for post mortem.
This is the most heinous crime and I strongly condemn the murder of Fr K J Thomas who was a very pious, soft spoken and harmless priest. He was serving St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, Bangalore as its Rector for the second term. His death is a great loss to all of us, especially to the seminary.
A Requiem Mass will be offered for the late Fr Thomas at St Peter’s Seminary Chapel, Bangalore on Tuesday, April 2 at 7.30 am before his mortal remains are moved to his diocese of Ootacamund. The funeral date, place and time will be decided by the Bishop of Ootacamund, in consultation with the family members of the deceased.
On behalf of the Board of Bishops, the priests, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Bangalore and the other Catholic dioceses of Karnataka, I express my heartfelt and deepest condolences to the bereaved family members and friends of the late Fr K J Thomas; to the Bishop, priests, religious and the faithful of the Diocese of Ootacamund; and to the staff and students of St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary. Please pray for the repose of his soul, and consolation and strength to the bereaved family members to accept this irreparable loss. May his soul rest in peace.
With God’s blessings,
Archbishop of Bangalore”
Bangalore: Priest found murdered in seminary premises
Daijiworld Media Network – Bangalore (SP)
Bangalore, Apr 1: In a mysterious incident, the priest of a seminary in the city was found murdered in the premises of the seminary on Monday April 1 morning.
The body of Fr K J Thomas (65) was found lying in the St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary premises in the morning.
It is suspected that he was killed at night and his body was shifted to a room by the culprits. Sources said that the murderers took advantage of the heavy rains that lashed Bangalore at night. Due to the rains, the security men were inside their quarters, which made it easier for the culprits.
The motive behind the murder is yet to be ascertained.
There is information that the procurator of the seminary had heard some sounds and possible screaming at around 2.30 or 3 am. But it is said he did not venture out of his room. This fact gives rise to questions and speculations.
The attackers apparently hit the face of Fr Thomas with a brick to prevent him from raising an alarm. His body was forcibly dragged inside the dining room of the seminary. The circumstances suggest that the priest’s end came there.
The seminary is located in Yeshwantpur in the city, near Yeshwantpur police station. It is said that Fr Thomas was on his second posting in the Seminary’s training centre.
Local policemen, additional police commissioner Alok Kumar, and various leaders visited the church. Investigations are on.
Archbishop Bernard Moras, vicar general Fr Antonyswamy and other priests have been camping in seminary since morning.
Mild mannered, soft spoken Fr K J Thomas, hails from Ettumanoor in Kottayam diocese. He however opted the Ooty diocese. Fr K J has been serving as rector for a long time. With the language issue rocking archidiocese since last several years, Fr K J though a Malayalee, has been deftly and tactfully managing the seminary. Fr K J’s popularity can be gauged from the fact that he has been serving as rector for the second term and liked by everybody for his affable and friendly nature. He has been serving seminary for some 30 years in different capacities.
Fr K J Thomas was to go to the airport today morning to receive his sister, who is a nun, coming from Pondicherry. The sister, who was surprised that repeated calls to Fr Thomas went unanswered, came from the airport to the seminary in an auto rickshaw, but she was asked to stay at the nearby convent as the policemen had already arrived and begun investigations.
According to some sources, unidentified assailants chased Fr Thomas, who was running for his life, and hit his face and head with bricks. It is as yet not certain whether he was stabbed or not. The attackers were so brutal that those who saw his body could not identify it initially.
The sources also guessed that the attackers would have come with the intention of committing theft there, as apparently they had ransacked the reception counter for keys and valuables.
It may be recalled that pro-kannada activists of Akhila Karnataka Catholic Chraistara Sangha with the support of some priests have been demanding that St Peter’s Seminary should be declared an exclusive Kannada seminary and that its management should be entrusted only Bishops from Karnataka and not Tamilandu as is the present case.
Another version according to informed sources is that the intruders may have been after some valuable documents as Fr K J’s room was ransacked. However, his laptop, iPad and other valuable gadgets were left untouched.
Fr K J’s brother and nephew are expected to arrive from the US.
The body has been taken to M S Ramaiah Hospital for post-mortem and will be kept in the mortunary afterwards.
Archbishop Dr Bernard Moras has condemned the dastardly and most heinous act of murder of a pious, soft-spoken and mild mannered priest like Fr K J Thomas.
The archbishop said the details of the funeral like date and place will be decided by the bereaved family of Fr K J and the Ooty bishop.
A soft-spoken gentleman
Bangalore, April 2, dhns:
Father K J Thomas, 64, served as the rector of St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary in Malleswaram for two consecutive terms.
The seminary is a prestigious religious institution in southern India where students from across the country are trained for priesthood.
Sources in the Bangalore Archdiocese, under whose jurisdiction the institute falls, said that Fr Thomas had served in the diocese for at least 20 years in various capacities.
One of his former students recalled him as a soft-spoken man and a scholarly theologian. A senior police officer of the locality said he had known the “gentleman” priest for the last 10 years and that he had not been involved in any controversy.
Thomas is a native of Ettumanoor in Kottayam district, Kerala. He joined the Diocese of Ooty in Tamil Nadu from where he was posted to Bangalore.
Sources said his elder sister Jacqueline, a nun at Puducherry, was to arrive in the City on Monday morning and Thomas was to collect her from the City Railway Station. Jacqueline, however, arrived as scheduled and called up Thomas.
When he did not attend her calls, she turned up at the seminary in an autorickshaw only to be greeted by the tragedy of her brother’s brutal murder.
Priest murdered in Malleswaram seminary
Bangalore: April 2, 2013 DH News Service
A senior Christian priest was found brutally murdered at a seminary in Malleswaram early Monday morning.
The body of Fr K J Thomas, 64, the Rector of St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, was lying in a pool of blood inside a coffee room adjacent to his office-cum-residence.
The motive behind the murder is yet to be ascertained.
Fr Patrick, the procurator of the seminary, was the first to discover the body and inform the Yeshwantpur police at about 6:15 am.
An officer handling the case told Deccan Herald that the assailants had struck Thomas on the forehead with a blunt weapon, leaving a deep cut on his nose. There were no other injuries on the body.
The officer said blood stains in the rector’s room and along the corridor indicated that the priest had probably tried to escape from the assailants.
The killers might have murdered him in the corridor and dumped his body in the coffee room. Shoe prints in the corridor indicate the involvement of at least three people, he said.
‘None heard anything’
While the assailants had a free run on the campus, police find it difficult to believe that none heard any commotion, especially when they had even broken open a grill door. Police said the gang may have prowled around the seminary for at least two hours.
The 150-odd students on the campus had left for their homes last week for summer vacation. Thomas and Patrick were the only two men staying at the seminary on Sunday night. One security guard had been posted at the front gate and other at the rear.
Security guard Mann Singh of Padmashree Security Services, who was at the front gate, said he saw nobody or heard anything that night and that he had been sleeping in his kiosk, as it was raining heavily.
No forcible entry
Police said that while there were no signs of forcible entry into Thomas’ room, the assailants had tried to force open the adjacent room where Patrick stayed.
Patrick told the police that he heard some sounds at his door at around 2:30 am, but did not venture out. However, officers who questioned Patrick and security guard Singh said the two had made contradictory statements. Police Commissioner B G Jyothiprakash Mirji said five special teams, including that of the Central Crime Branch, had been formed to apprehend the killers.
Bangalore Archdiocese bids tearful adieu to Fr K J Thomas
From Our Special Correspondent
Daijiworld Media Network – Bangalore
Bangalore, Apr 2: The entire Archdiocese of Bangalore with a large number of diocesan clergy and religious priests and scores of sisters led by the Archbishop of Bangalore Dr Bernard Moras, who was joined by the prelates of Ootacamund Diocese Amal Raj, Dharmapuri Diocese Lawrence Pais, Salem Diocese Singarayar and Mysore Diocese Thomas Vazhapilli, offered a solemn requiem mass for the repose of the soul of Fr K J Thomas, Rector of St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, who was brutally bludgeoned to death by unknown killers, in the small hours of Monday.
The chapel of St Peter’s Seminary, where the soft-spoken and mild-mannered gentlemanly formator had trained thousands of seminarians for priesthood during his long association as teacher, professor, theologian, philosopher, friend and guide as Rector for the second term and earlier as theology professor, was jamp-packed with religious priests, nuns and laity both inside and outside – some of them shamelessly sobbing while others quietly wiping their eyes with kerchiefs — for the requiem mass which was scheduled at 7.30 am on Tuesday, was a touching sight to behold.
As the cortege carrying the body of the 62-year-old priest, who had innumerable friends both within the Catholic Church and outside was brought in a van from the St John’s Medical College and Hospital at Koramangala, where it was shifted for embalming after post-mortem at the nearby M S Ramaiah Hospital, thousands of teary people gathered at the portico of the Seminary for a last glimpse of the deceased priest.
You Taught us to be Human, Now a Martyr too!
It was indeed a struggle to carry the flower-decked deceased body inside the chapel of the Seminary, where Fr KJ Thomas or simply Fr KJ as he is known by all and sundry must have been the main celebrant on innumerable occasions. The simple and straight message that was painted on a plain white paper and kept near the mortal head of Fr KJ facing the altar was touching: ”Oh Dear Father, we miss you forever. You taught us everytime, How to be Human; Finally, How to be a Martyr too.”
When the gathered crowd of the faithful had found themselves seating place or standing elbow-room, the Archbishop of Bangalore Dr Bernard Moras, delivered a touching and heart-warming eulogy to Fr KJ. The Archbishop first read out the condolence messages that he had received from Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio to India by Archbishop Salavatore Pennacchio, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, President of CBCI and CCBI and Archbishop of Mumbai, Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Mar George Cardinal Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly Syro-Malabar Church and Telesphore Cardinal Placidus Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi.
Did Not Believe Fr KJ Is Dead: Archbishop Moras
”At this precious time of the Year as we start the Easter Octave, this is not an occasion that I wished to meet you here in St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary,” began the Archbishop Dr Moras, saying: ”With a heavy heart, deep shock and profound sorrow, I wish to express my sincerest sentiments of condolences and sympathies: First of all to all the seminarians of the Seminary, staff and domestic helpers, beloved family members, board member bishops, the priests, religious and people of Ooty diocese.”
”When I heard the shocking news yesterday (Monday April 1) morning around 7.30 am, I could not believe my ears and did not want it to be true as well because of the gruesome and inhuman way in which the murder has taken place,” he said.
An Erudite Scholar
Dr Moras mentioned that Fr Thomas Kochupuryil was born on May 13, 1951 at Ettumanoor, near Kottayam, Kerala. After his high school studies in his native place, he joined the Diocese of Ooty as a minor seminarian due to the fraternal and vocational influence of his uncle, who is a priest still alive. He did his major seminary studies and had formation at St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary/Institute in Bangalore. He was a studious and illustrious student as we hear from his professors, who vouch for it. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Ooty on May 14, 1980. Subsequently, he completed his Master’s Degree in History from Mysore University and another Master’s degree in Political Science from Madras University. Later, he completed his M.Ed. from Madura Kamaraj University. He served the Ooty Diocese for about 8 years as Assistant Parish Priest and school principal.
Having recognized the caliber, character, capacity and piety of Fr Thomas, the Board of St Peter’s Seminary selected and appointed him as a staff, formator and lecturer starting with the year 1988. He was sent for higher studies in Rome in Systematic Theology and came with a Doctorate with flying colours in 1983 from Urbaniana University.
The Board of Bishops, who had observed his simplicity, honesty, hard work, dedication and the spirit of austerity, appointed Fr KJ as Procurator for two terms of five years from 1994. Concurrently, he also held the office of the Department of Systematic Theology for many years with distinction. He was installed as the President of the St Peter’s Pontifical Institute in 2009 and renominated to the same post in 2009 and named as the Rector of St Peter’s Pontifical Major Seminary. He has served the seminary with ”utmost care, devotion and dedication.”
”As an erudite and enlightened professor, he has taught theology to the students but also published several theological articles and books. To this date, as on record, he has always been a kind father to whomever he came across, a faithful, systematic theologian, an able financial administrator, a friend to all and enemy to none. He was a guide, philosopher to all those who sought his direction and counseling,” the Archbishop said.
Indelible Mark in Annals of Seminary
”Fr KJ Thomas, we have loved your presence, enjoyed your conversations and it is a pleasure to listen to your appropriate stories and remarkable sense of humour with wit and wisdom, serious and sincerity,” Dr Moras said with a voice choking with emotion, adding: ”The hallmark of your personality will make an indelible mark in the annals of St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary and Institute. You had an indomitable spirit for hard work, study, prayer and service. We will miss you but ever love you. May your Soul Rest in Peace.”
Later, Archbishop Dr Moras read out select messages from near and dear ones of Fr KJ Thomas, especially from his nephew Jaison from Tampa, Florida, USA, Fr Chris Vimalraj, Rome, Irudayaselvam, Taipei, Taiwan, Sr Mary Jacob, Bagalkot, Fr Siby, Shillong, Dr Mohan Prabhu, Ottawa, Canada and Fr Franklin D’Souza, CBCI Office for Youth, ICYM, New Delhi.
A Role Model for Budding Priests
Dharmapuri Diocese Bishop Lawrence Pais said Fr KJ was a simple soul and a soft-spoken person who had never hurt anyone in his life. It is ironical that he met with a tragic end, who least deserved it. He was a very humble and compassionate priest and had inspired hundreds of seminarians as a role model.
”Fr KJ Thomas, the youngest child among five children including three boys and two sisters, was a loving person and died a martyr’s death in the service of the church. His affable manners, soft and mild personality filled with love, sincerity, dedication and honesty were rare qualities of an extra-ordinary human being. He had provided spiritual guidance and sustenance of many seminarians,” described the Ootacamund Bishop Amal Raj.
BJP, Congress MLAs Among Leaders Paying Homage
The other Bishops, Vicar Generals of Bangalore and Dharmapuri and Ootacamund Dioceses as well as the President of St Peter’s Institute Dr Rayappan were among the many speakers, who paid homage to Fr KJ Thomas.
The hearse containing the mortal body of Fr KJ Thomas was taken in an air-conditioned bus to Kottayam diocese around 11 am after all priests, sisters, lay people as well as political leaders, including Malleswaram BJP MLA Dr Ashwathanarayan, Mahalaxipuram Congress MLA N L Narendra Babu and local Congress Corporators and leaders of various Catholic and Christian organizations including T J Abraham, a prominent Christian lay leader, paid their tributes to the deceased priest.
Congress MLA K J George and Anglo-Indian ex-MLA Ivan Nigli, who had arrived at St Peter’s Seminary on Monday morning soon after hearing news of Fr KJ’s murder, had stayed at the seminary and held consultations with senior police officials and Archbishop Dr Bernard Moras till the body of Fr KJ was shifted to M S Ramaiah Hospital in the afternoon for post-mortem.
Rector’s body taken to Ooty
Bangalore: April 3, 2013 DH News Service
The rector of the St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary in Malleswaram, Father K J Thomas, who was found murdered early Monday morning, was given a funeral mass at the Seminary Tuesday morning.
Two of Thomas’ relatives, Joseph Mathew and Baby Chacko, had arrived from Kerala to take the body to his native place, Ettumanoor, in Kottayam.
According to sources, the funeral will be held at his native place on Friday. However, prior to the funeral, the body will be taken to Ooty where Thomas was inducted into missionary activities and a prayer will be held.
Besides relatives and his elder sister Jacqueline — a nun at Puducherry — the mass was attended by five bishops of neighbouring dioceses including Salem, Ooty and Mysore. Archbishop of Bangalore, Bernard Moras, led the mass, which began with an eulogy by Moras himself.
Meanwhile, an autopsy was conducted at M S Ramaiah Hospital. Police said the initial report had not revealed anything new.
The report states that Thomas died of a head injury after being struck by a blunt weapon. The City police, on Tuesday, questioned Father Patrick Xavier, the procurator of the Seminary, who was sleeping in the room next to Thomas’. Xavier maintained that he didn’t hear or see anything on that fateful night.
A senior official handling the case, however, said that Xavier had provided contradicting statements which were not logical and deviate from facts gleaned from an inspection of the crime scene.
The police are also questioning Mann Singh, the security guard at the Seminary’s front gate. A senior official said that Singh claimed to have slept throughout the night in the guard’s hut as it was raining heavily.
In season of poll transfers, City policing in limbo
K V Aditya Bharadwaj, Bangalore, April 7, 2013, DHNS:
Crucial murder investigations takes backseat
Policing seems to have taken a beating in the City as several officers have been transferred in view of the May 5 Assembly polls.
After taking charge as the new police commissioner, Raghavendra Auradkar, issued transfer orders to 60 sub inspectors who had overstayed (more than three years in the same station or sub-division) and those who were residing in the same Assembly constituencies. Incidentally, 12 superintendents of police were transferred recently in the State. Sources said DCPs of North, South and Central divisions are being transferred.
According to a police official, awaiting his transfer, any further delay in transfers and postings would cripple policing in the City.
The most affected are investigations into murder cases such as the homealone woman murdered in K G Nagar and Yelahanka, the jeweller murdered in Rajajinagar and the muder of Father K J Thomas, Rector of St Peters Pontifical Seminary in Yeshwantpur.
While the DCP of South Division under whose division K G Nagar comes, has been tipped off to be transferred, as is the DCP of North division under whose division Yeshwanthpur and Rajajinagar comes.
Also Purushottam, Inspector of Police, Yeshwantpur, investigating the murder of Father K J Thomas is also likely to be transferred.
During elections, police are over-burdened with maintaining law and order. This diverts their attention from criminal investigations. Many a times crime staff are put on law and order duties, due to the staff crunch. Further, transfers of investigating officers and senior officers supervising these cases would hamper investigation.
A senior officer in the crime wing, said a system should be evolved wherein the investigating officer briefs the new man about the case before he leaves. However, this is not the practice.
If the case is not cracked, it should be transferred to specialised crime units such as the CCB or the CID.
Archbishop seeks speedy probe into rector’s murder
Bangalore: April 19, 2013 DH News Service
Archbishop of Bangalore Archdiocese, Bernard Moras, on Friday, sought speedy investigation into Father K J Thomas murder.
He said St Peter’s Pontifical seminary was directly placed under the Vatican. So since that day, the Vatican through its ambassador in India and Bishop Conference of India has shown keen interest and concern regarding the case and to bring out the truth behind the gruesome murder.
While the police are trying their best to crack the case, it was sad that there was no breakthrough in the case even after 18 days. Meanwhile, Investigating Officer Purushottam, who was Inspector of Police, Yeshwanthpur, has been transferred on recommendations of the election commission.
The Archbishop said he had also met Governor H R Bharadwaj requesting him to ensure speedy investigation into the case.