Rev. Fr. Thomas Kuriakose SJ, was called to Eternal rest in the Lord, today 07th July 2013 at Jesuits' Fathers' House at Akkarapanaha, Negombo.
His mortal remains will lie at Negombo Jesuits' House until Tuesday, 09th July 2013. Funeral Mass will be held on Tuesday, 09th July at the Chapel of Jesuits' House, Negombo, at 9.00 am and after the funeral Mass, his mortal remains will be taken to Lewella, Kandy for burial.
Rev. Fr. Victor Croos OMI, former Professor of Hinduism at the National Seminary, Kandy, was called to Eternal rest in the Lord on 04th July 2013 and his mortal remain lie at the Cathedral, Mannar and the funeral will take place on Monday the 08th July 2013 at 300 pm at the Mannar Cathedral.
Fr. Thomas Kuriakose sj, fondly known as ‘Fr. Kuri’, was born in 1920 at Quilon, Kerala in India to a deeply religious Catholic family. He recalls his childhood and his family with deep fondness; "We did not have much, but there was such a lot of love. So much love." His father moved to Sri Lanka and established himself in Matara, hence Sri Lanka became home to Fr. Kuri who had his initial education at St. Servatious' College in the deep South. Thereafter he entered St. Joseph's College in Colombo 10 and remained a loyal Josephian.
His friends recall that he would not miss a Big Match if he could help it and would carry with him a tiny metal statue of the saint (and clutch it in his hand when in need of intercession, especially when Josephian wickets tumbled).
A brilliant student, Fr. Kuriakose obtained a BA in Modern History at the Ceylon University. Sixty years ago at the age of 24, he found his way back to the land of his birth- when he entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Kodaikanal, a South Indian hill station. It took ten years from then to be qualified for ordination as a priest.
At a latter stage he returned to the south of Sri Lanka where at St. Aloysious' College, Galle, he was in charge of boarders and filling in for absentee teachers under the leadership of great priests Frs. E. Gaspard and P.N. Peiris.
On July 11, 1954 Fr. Thomas Kuriakose was ordained as a priest in a beautiful baroque 17th century church in Gesu Nova, Naples.
Back in Sri Lanka Fr. Kurie became involved in the Aquinas College. In 1958 Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike named Fr. Thomas Kuriakose a 'Distinguished Citizen'. Fr. Kurie's admiration and respect for his mentor at Aquinas, Fr. Peter Pillai is very deep rooted. "He was such a source of strength and integrity.” said Fr. Kuri.
He had the ability to see the potential in people and would selflessly do all in his power to guide those around him into the correct vocation". Despite his academic and career success, well-read and articulate priest, he always had his heart, eyes and ears open to the poor.
For several years, Fr. Kuri was serving at St. Mary's Church, Dehiwala with the Parish Priest Fr. Chianese sj.
The plight of the poorer classes of society was a constant matter for him, which he tried to overcome by various means, by providing food and rations, by providing better health care and by broadening their horizons with education opportunities. As the National Chaplain of the Catholic Students Federation, Fr. Kurie led the way in moulding young academics in to worthwhile citizens of this country. Fr. Kurie and his students following of the time (professionals of today) happily remember the time spent at 'work camps' in a remote village in Chilaw. The village of Uru Udiyandaluwa had no road access when Fr. Kurie first ventured in to it after a devastating Deduru Oya flood.
He and his group of students camped in this remote village for weeks, cutting a road, fixing toilets and living the lives of simple villagers. "We had to work with the villagers and they had to contribute. This was father's philosophy. We lived in the community hall and the village provided for our basic food. The cooperation was incredible," said a work camp attended, today a prominent lawyer. Years afterwards this same work camp group met as adults, and decided to visit the village. "We could not believe how it had progressed and developed.
Fr. Kurie believed fervently that it was the fellowship built during these work camps among the then students and the friendship and solidarity that came off sharing this unique experience that led to the formation of a group of adult professionals.