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Sad Demise of Father James Poonthuruthil SDB
By Father George Maliekal SDB
Shillong, Jan. 22. Father James Poonthuruthil SDB, Rector and Professor at Sacred Heart Theological College Shillong, passed away on January 21 at NEIGRIHMS (North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences) in Shillong, Meghalaya. He would have turned 63 on January 27.
Father James Poonthuruthil SDB (1955-2018)
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Father Poonthuruthil was under intense medical attention in the Critical Care Unit of NEIGRIHMS after being seriously hurt in a road accident on 14 January while travelling from Shillong to Guwahati in Assam. The Tata Nano car he was travelling in, rammed into a stationery truck on NH-6 at Umsawnongkharai near Nongpoh in the Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya. The police, along with sisters and fathers of Nongpoh parish rushed the injured first to Nongpoh Civil Hospital and later to NEIGRIHMS.

The team of doctors at NEIGRIHMS conducted a surgery on him to stop swelling and hemorrhage in the brain. A part of the skull was removed to monitor and treat the brain. On a ventilator and in a coma, Father James continued to be ''not out of danger''.  On Friday, 19 January, tracheostomy (surgical incision on the windpipe to connect the ventilator) was done. But for occasional and slight involuntary movement of the hands, he responded little to the round the clock medical attention that was given him. He passed away at 7.55 PM, on 21 January.

Father Ponthuruthil's body was taken to Sacred Heart Theological College and placed in the Shrine of the Sacred Heart. A requiem Mass will be held at 5.00 PM on 22 January, after which the body will be taken to Salesian College Dimapur in Nagaland for burial at 2.00 PM, on 23 January.

The former Provincial Superior of Dimapur Province, Father  Poonthuruthil, with a doctoral degree in Moral Theology from Alfonsiana, Rome, with the thesis ''Towards Responsibility: A Study of Erik H Erikson's Theory of Psychosocial Development and Viktor E Frankl's theory of Logotherapy.'' served the Church in Northeast India in various capacities.

He was registrar of the Sacred Heart College from 1988 to 1992; and from 1994 to 1995. He was rector of Salesian College of Higher Education, Dimapur, during 1995-2001. He became the president of the Sacred Heart Theological College, Shillong in 2003, a post he held for three years. He was then appointed the Provincial Superior of the Salesian Province of Dimapur, Nagaland, from 2006 to 2012. A year later, he was appointed director of Integrated Training for Laity and Religious and Rector at Mathias Institute, Mawlai. He had taken over as the Rector of Sacred Heart Theological College Shillong in May this year.


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