Up to the end, a Catholic priest in India's Kerala state set an example of simplicity by asking for a simple burial, with no flowers or eulogies.
In his last will, Father James Kumbukkal of Manthavady diocese, 78, wrote that he wanted to avoid the extravagance of a grand funeral that is usually given to church leaders.
“I wish to get a very simple burial,” he wrote, requesting that his body be kept in the cheapest coffin.
The priest also appealed to the people “not to place a wreath on his body or any flower” as is customary in the country.
He wished that people not shower his remains with flowers, but send the money saved from the occasion to the "Vianney Bhavan," the home for retired priests in the diocese where he spent his last three years.
Father Kumbukkal also asked not to have any speech during his funeral Mass.
In his will, he wrote that he did not want any kind of recognition from anyone. “My life was meant for Jesus Christ. He knows who I am. I want only recognition from Him,” read the priest's will.
The priest concluded his letter thanking the Lord for his life.
Before his death he deposited 25,000 Indian rupees in a bank to take care of refreshments for those attending his funeral as he did not want any financial burden on his diocese.
Diocesan officials have been authorized to withdraw the amount from the bank.
He asked that whatever funds were left be distributed to the poor.
“We have fulfilled all his desires in the will except his burial on the same day,” said Bishop Jose Porunnedom who officiated the funeral Mass on June 22.
The priest died on June 21.
Bishop Porunnedom said Father Kumbukkal’s life was an “inspiring one” because it was lived in simplicity.
“Father Kumbukkal’s life is an inspiring example for everyone who wants to tread the path shown by our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Father Manoj Kakkonal, who heads the media commission of the Diocese of Manathavadi.
“During his active parish ministry, (he) walked into every Christian household regularly and always comforted them in their distress," said Father Kakkonal.
The priest supported poor children in their education and became a reliable helping hand for the poor in parishes where he served.
Father Jaimon Kalambukatt, director of "Vianney Bhavan," said that the late priest "was a shepherd who really had the smell of his sheep."
Less than 20 people attended the priest's funeral in compliance with the health protocols during the pandemic. - Frank Krishner/RVA News