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Last pioneer of Andhra - Fr Panampara Abraham - laid to rest
By Rohit
Hyderabad, Jun. 15. A fitting and final farewell was given to Fr Abraham Panampara at Don Bosco Karunapuram, Warangal on June 13. The Requiem Mass was presided over by His Grace Most Rev. Thumma Bala the Archbishop of Hyderabad and Fr Raminedi Balaraju, the Hyderabad Salesian Provincial. The 'Panampara Effect' was tangibly felt as numerous salesians, priests, religious, relatives and faithful paid their final respects, prayed and bid him farewell.
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The funeral service started with a 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, in his eulogy described the two phases of the life of Fr Abraham: one as an educator and the other as an evangeliser. He also read the message of Fr Maria Arokiam, General Councillor for South Asia who fondly recalled his association with Fr Abraham and his encounter with him during the just concluded extraordinary visitation. He lauded Fr Abraham for the untiring commitment in bringing the Good News to rural Andhra Pradesh.

The Archbishop of Hyderabad commended the tremendous work that Fr Abraham accomplished in building the Church in Andhra Pradesh despite the trying conditions and invited everyone to emulate his example. Fr Medabalimi Balaswamy the former Provincial (amidst tears) expressed the deep-rooted prayer life and the dedication with which Fr Abraham worked to build the Kingdom of God in numerous mission stations of the Province.

Fr Noel Maddichetty - immediate former Provincial - recalled his relationship as a student with Fr Abraham. He said ''the perennial smile of Fr Abraham never changed since then. He was an epitome of simplicity; not only was he 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 is to be 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. According to him, Fr Abraham was the greatest principal of Tirupattur college ever.  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 visibly vibrant in Sacred Heart College Tirupattur.

Sr Teresa Panampara, the youngest sister of Fr Abraham, affirmed that her brother was a messenger of peace from childhood. She remarked ''he was so simple that he did not even inform his family that he had been to the United States of America 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, 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 never hesitating 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 is not only the Province of Hyderabad, that has lost one of its pearls but Salesian India and the Congregation itself.  Fr Panampara leaves behind a legacy that needs to be carried forth for generations to come. May he rest in peace.
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