A fitting and final farewell was given to Rev. Fr Abraham Panampara at Don Bosco Karunapuram, Warangal on June 13, at 3:30 pm. The Requiem Mass was presided over by His Grace Most Rev. Thumma Bala the Archbishop of Hyderabad and Rev. Fr Raminedi Balaraju, the Salesian Provincial of the Province of Hyderabad. The 'Panampara Effect' was tangibly felt as numerous Salesians, Priests, Religious, relatives of Fr Abraham and faithful paid their final respects, prayed and bid farewell to him.
The funeral service began with a moving video presentation of the interview given by Fr Abraham Panampara a couple of months before his death. It beautifully summed up his life and mission in his own words. Fr Balaraju, the Provincial during the eulogy accentuated the two faces of the life of Fr Abraham: one as an educator and the other as an evangelizer. He also read the message of Fr Maria Arokiam, the Regional Superior for South Asia who fondly recalled his association with Fr Abraham and his encounter with him during the just concluded extraordinary visitation. He lauded praises on Fr Abraham for the untiring commitment in bringing the Good News to rural Andhra Pradesh.
The Archbishop commended the tremendous work that Fr Abraham accomplished in building the Church in Andhra Pradesh in spite of the trying conditions and invited everyone to emulate his example. During the farewell messages, Fr Medabalimi Balaswamy the former Provincial amidst tears expressed the deep-rooted prayer life and the dedication with which Fr Abraham worked for building the Kingdom of God in numerous mission stations of the Province.
Fr Noel, the former Provincial recalled his relationship with Fr Abraham during his student days. He spoke about the perennial smile of Fr Abraham that never changed since then. He spoke of him as an epitome of simplicity. He also said that Fr Abraham was not a great orator but he preached the message. He was not even a singer but he produced volumes of musical cassettes, people never understood his handwriting but he compiled and published many books. He admired him as a warrior of Christ.
Fr K.D. Joseph, who was a companion of Fr Abraham recalled that he was an elder brother to all in his schooling days. He was convinced that Fr Abraham was the greatest principal that Tirupattur college ever had. Fr K.M. Joseph narrated the great impact that Fr Abraham had on the students and the neighbouring villages around the Sacred Heart College Tirupattur, which he labeled, the ‘Panampara effect’. Reiterating the words of Fr K.D. Joseph he said that the Panampara effect is still vibrant in Sacred Heart College Tirupattur.
Sr Teresa Panampara, the youngest sister of Fr Abraham Panampara, affirmed that her brother was a messenger of peace from childhood. She told the gathering that her brother was so simple that he did not even inform his family that he had gone to United States of America and that he had finished his Ph.D. When asked about it, his reply was, “I did not do Ph.D. for our family but for the mission.” Besides this she in her own words summarized how he had a generous heart for the poor and the needy from his younger days onwards.
Two catechists shared their experiences with Fr Abraham who affirmed that he was a hard working person who never hesitated to spend his time, money and all that he had for the proclamation of the Good News. It was said that they learned how to live and how to pray from Fr Abraham. Fr Joseph Abraham, the Rector of Don Bosco Mariapuram, where Fr Abraham spent his last days proposed the vote of thanks.
It goes without saying that it is not only the Province of Hyderabad, that lost one of its pearls but Salesian India and the Salesian world at large. Fr Panampara leaves behind a legacy that has to be carried on for generations to come to evangelize the young and proclaim the Gospel to all.