In Bishop Thomas Thennatt God gave us, a good human being! By Father Dr. Anand Muttungal


The untimely passing away of Bishop Thomas Thennatt (Gwaliar Diocese) in a road accident has left many of us in tears and many untold stories of his kind gestures of God's grace showered through him. He was remarkably a good human being filled with the spirit of holiness. I remember him as a Rector of Khrist Premalaya Regional Theologate at Ashta in Madhya Pradesh. He was a person filled with the practical ideas to promote the lay leadership in the Church and in the society. He used to teach us courses on pastoral activities very especially for the villagers of Hindi belt. As he taught that the first and most important aspect of a missionary priest is to be available to people in all their needs, he was always available to brothers, villagers or anybody comes to meet him to discuss with problems. Even today some of the things he taught come in handy to deal with people.
I must say he hid his very soft heart in the seriously thought of serious expression he put up at times on his face. He had a very good way of dealing with the problems of people. We could approach him like a friend, he never make us feel that he is the Rector of the seminary but a good friend and understanding father of the family. He had a big heart for the brothers. He never treated with the hangover of a previous problem but will always start with a fresh beginning. It always gave a good sprit and hopes to us to share the issues and get his guidance. It encouraged building confidence in him.
He had great sense of the call of God. He believed that at times the judgments can go wrong and it might warrant him an answer to God other than to any higher authority. I see in him a model rector of a major seminary in whom all students could trust as a child trusts in the good understanding of the father. A student who left seminary recalls even today that due to certain reasons when he was leaving seminary, the Rector (Bishop Thomas Thennat) advised him that if he still feels that he has got vocation then he should try to join another seminary. He thought it might be just to console him but after few months when he approached him for a letter to join another seminary, the Rector gave him an excellent letter. But when the sickness continuously followed him, he decided to leave the seminary. But before taking a final decision he spoke to Bishop Thomas Thennat (Rector). After hearing the problems he said, "never run away from vocation like Prophet Jonah. I think you have a vocation to lead a family life." He took utmost care regarding vocation.
It is very often said that holiness is a concept of subjective understanding for every individual. I consider Bishop Thomas Thennat a real Holliman because in him holiness was not part time expressions but a habitual activity oriented towards expressing his deep experience of the Lord through his actions. Probably he was not looking for perfection in the extreme sense of perfection next to God but an expression without blemish in everything he does. Holiness is beyond definition but never beyond experience and understanding. Therefore I believe that in Bishop Thomas Thennat, God gave a good human being for us. He has taken his SOUL, leaving all rich memories to live and at times to imitate what he preached through his life. May God Bless him and grant him eternal life.
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