Archbishop of Guwahati composes Vatican’s Good Friday prayers

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Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil
Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil

Sushanta Talukdar

Guwahati: The Archbishop of Guwahati, Thomas Menamparampil, has become the first Indian Bishop to have composed the Vatican’s Good Friday prayers. Pope Benedict XVI will use these prayers for the “Way of the Cross” at Vatican on this year’s Good Friday.

Archbishop Thomas told The Hindu on Sunday that he had incorporated in these prayers the essence of ahimsa teachings of Gandhiji and the ideal of Nishkama karma (selfless action and detachment in service) of the 15th century Vaishnavite saint of Assam, Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva.

“Ahimsa as a concept is much deeper than non-violence, revealing fullness of its meaning in Jesus as he confronts violence with serenity and strength. Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva’s teachings of Nishkama karma is also realised best in Jesus. There are several other Indian values like the sense of the sacred, contemplation, silence, spiritual depth, family and community loyalty, spirit of renunciation which stand out in the life of Jesus in the most edifying manner. They are not only valid for India but also for the whole world,” said the Archbishop.

Genuinely Indian

The Archbishop said he tried to choose themes that were genuinely Indian and at the same time Christian, hoping that these could inspire the world community.

Archbishop Thomas belongs to Menamparampil family of Pala, Kottayam district in Kerala. He is the eldest of the 12 children of late Cheriyath (Pappachan) and late Annama Cheriyath Menamparampil. Born on October 22, 1936, Archbishop Thomas came to the Northeast in 1961. He studied theology in Shillong.

He became a bishop in Dibrugarh in 1981 and was installed as Bishop in Guwahati in 1992. He was appointed the Archbishop of Guwahati in 1995.

During the last decade-and-a-half, Archbishop Thomas had been striving for peace and reconciliation among various conflict-affected ethnic communities of the Northeast.

He is also the Chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India Commission for Education and Culture and Chairman of the Federation of Asian Bishop’s Conference Commission for Evangelisation.

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