The death of a poet, philosopher and priest is mourned in south India.
Father A. Pitchaimuthu died on January 30 at Viruthachalam, Tamil Nadu, south India. He was 82.
The funeral Mass will be on January 31 at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Pondicherry–Cuddalore Archdiocese.
“I am saddened to miss a holy priest and true human being who was down to earth. Besides, he was a great philosopher, writer, poet, singer and a gentleman,” said his former student Brother Antony from Holy Cross Congregation.
Pitchaimuthu was an expert musician, a Siddha doctor, an educationist, and a folk music composer and a singer. He composed the Roman Catholic Mass liturgy in a folk style.
Siddha medicine is one of the most ancient medical systems of India.
He taught nine Bharatnattiyam (a major Hindu form of Indian classical dance) songs of Christmas to children of the Cluny Sisters and sent them to France for training and learning.
The priest was a spiritual director of Our Lady of Periyanayagi Shrine (Our Lady Maria Maggiore) Konankuppam, Cuddalore district.
A deeply spiritual person had a great love for God and Mother Mary. He was baptised at Konankuppam. So, he had a special love for Our Lady Periyanayagi. When he felt that he has a special mission he came to Viruthachalam and started an ‘Ashram’ (hermitage) called Muthu Sithar Amaithiyagam (place of peace), says Father Devasagayaraj Zakarias, Our Lady of Periyanayagi Shrine Parish Priest.
In his Ashram, he had a Siddha Medical Clinic, orphanage, an old-age home and a meditation center.
Pitchaimuthu went to different ashrams in India and had spiritual renewal. He also went to the Himalayas to get Ashram experience. He had great regard for Mother Mary. He called her the first Christian. His sermons on Mother Mary inspired many people who came to the Shrine, said Zackarias.
The multitalented priest was an encyclopedia of knowledge on many topics. He would quote many poems by heart.
He was a born musician and lyric writer. He was the first regional secretary for Liturgical Music in Tamil Nadu, south India.
He had a certificate in Siddha medicine and he has given medicine for various diseases including childbirth.
Above all, he lived a life of poverty in a hut among the people who are poor and watermen. Till the end, he cooked his food by himself and did his laundry.
Even when he visited Konankuppam during the weekend for the pastoral ministry he would wash his plates and dishes.
During the lockdown due to Covid-19, he freely distributed herbal medicines to increase the immune system.
He adapted himself to modern trends and technology. He started using Whatsapp after learning from others. He used to watch YouTube channels and update his knowledge. He would ask doubts from the younger priests and seminarians to operate the android phone.
Pitchaimuthu contributed much to inculturation. In Muguaiyur, he celebrated Mother Mary’s feast with nine types of folk dances.
“God has given me the gift of music; I can sing and compose songs. I have gifted my songs to the world in CDs and cassettes,” Pitchaimuthu had said in one of his interviews.
He has released 150 music albums.
He started a YouTube Channel on December 22 in his name to share with others what I have received from God.
Pitchaimuthu was born on September 15, 1940, at Kovilankuppam into a Dalit family and was ordained in 1973.
He was a principal at R.C. Teacher Training Institute, Tindivanam from 1977 to 1882 and Principal of St. Ann’s Higher Secondary School, Tindivanam from 1997 to 1999.
He was the first headmaster and Correspondent St. Xavier’s Church, High School, Mugaiyur. He retired in 2010.
Pitchaimuthu is called a role model in many dimensions of Dalit empowerment and liberation.
“He contributed a lot in music, medicines and creative ministries. He will live in our memories and hearts,” bemoans Father PJ Xavier, a Claratian of Chennai province.
“My parents are the ones who nurtured the faith. My mother used to recite the Holy Rosary daily and my father was strict that we attend the family prayer. Since I was baptized at Our Lady of Periyanayagi Shrine, I went to the pilgrimage at the age of seven and I recite the Rosary twice. When I joined the seminary, I started reading the Life of the Saints. Our Lady of Periyanayagi loves me so much and she is with me,” Pitchaimuthu had said while sharing his God experience.
“Father Pitchaimuthu formed many Dalit teachers. My heartfelt condolences,” expressed Robert Benjamin, a teacher from Konankuppam parish.
“Deeply shocked to hear the passing away of Father Pitchaimuthu, I met him for the first time in 1968 in St. Joseph’s High School, Cuddalore when I was a student. He was a great musician, excellent preacher, a man with the deep spirituality of our times,” said Jesuit Father Alphonse Manickam.
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