The last of the first batch of pioneers to have brought the Salesian charism to the Andhra soil calls it a day!  That would be, Fr Panampara Abraham, belovedly called as Fr P.E. He died in a road accident as the jeep in which he and another Salesian Priest, Fr Michael Pampara met with an accident as it was enroute to a branch of the street childrens' work in Vijayawada (a place called Vimukti) on June 11, 2012 at 2 in the afternoon. The funeral of this veteran Salesian, aged 83, is scheduled for June 13, 2012 at Don Bosco Philosophate, Karunapuram (at 3.30 pm).  

Fr Panampara was one of the first three Salesians to have set foot in Andhra Pradesh in the year 

1964 when we were invited to take over a technical school and boarding at Guntur.  The other two Salesians, Fr Benjamin Puthota and Br Gabriel Fernandez, who were with him then would surely accord him a royal welcome at the heaven's gate.  Fr P.E. was born on February 8, 1929 in Kerala and entered the Salesian congregation on May 24, 1958.  He was ordained on April 8, 1964. 

Among the many things that if written would run into volumes, some of the highlights of Fr Panampara Abraham's illustrious vocation would be the following: 
  • the radical call he made after laying down office as the Principal of Sacred Heart, Tirupattur to opt for the missions in Andhra Pradesh.  
  • the bold and passionate move to open up the Sacred Heart College, Tirupattur to the otherwise forbidden in the 1950's. Thanks to that move, thousands of young people, who otherwise would have never seen the portals of an educational institution in the north Arcot region of Tamilnadu were blessed with a quality education.  The fact that several of his past pupils and professors still called on lovingly upon Fr P.E. Is a proof of how deeply he understood and brought to life Don Bosco's charism for the poor and abandoned.  
  • the production of the Telugu hymnal 'Gana Dyana Prathana Manjiri' (Meditational Hymnal) along with one of the first telugu devotional cassettes of the times, 'Stuthi geetalu' (Songs of Praise) in colloboration with Fr Vincent CSSR. Though he could never sing two words in tune nor put a line in poetic rhythm, he went on the bring out several volumes of the cassette – the tunes and hymns of which are now a household melody, sung in practically every traditional Church.  (Though confreres pulled his leg by dubbing the title of the cassettes as 'sutthi gettalu' – songs of boredom – Fr P.E. never took offense and was clear in stating, “It was the best mission strategy then.”)
  • That fact would bring us to perhaps something that most of us would love to remember him for, something that gripped him for 29 years since he came to Andhra, something that would be his alter name, something of which no meeting would conclude without being voiced by him – missions and his love for the mission work!  
Besides all these heroics and inspirational challenges he leaves behind, we also remember him for his simplicity of life (that red cotton towel he used all the while could very well be preserved as the most efficacious relic!), zeal for work, the passionate interest with which he picked up using his laptop even when advanced in years,  the series of Divine dramas and booklets on catechesis which he kept churning out from his laptop year after year, and last but not the least, his engineering skills!  Though aged and not in the best of his health, he was never perturbed by the idea of death.  In fact it was during the funeral of Br Gabriel Fernandez, that he was fooling other elderly confreres (those younger than him!) that they would be the next!  All that he wished was to die in a mission field doing his beloved mission work.  

His final appointment was at Don Bosco Mission Complex, Mariapuram.  Prior to that he was a pioneer at St Mary's, Kollapur – a school and boarding which was entrusted to us Salesians by the Diocese of Nalgonda.  And the reason he consented to go to that remoter interior place was that it offered a great scope for evangelisation.  His strenuous efforts in the mission stations of P.T. Parru and Ponnur would be his living testament for the one charism that literally possessed him in the last three decades.  One had only to add the word 'mission' or 'evangelisation' to anything and even before the sentence or statement would be complete, he would reply with an enthusiastic 'yes'. Such was his love for Christ and His mission.  
We remember you dear Fr P.E. and ask you to intercede for us from up above as we know that with the fervour with which you lived your life in total dedication to Christ and his proclamation, the Trinity would itself be your receptionists at heaven's pearly gates.  Go in peace and God bless you!

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