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FR. PATRICK KULLU, S.J. (Mar 17, 1929 – Sep. 16, 2009)

Posted on: 1 Dec, 2014

Modified on: 1 Dec, 2014

By Fr. Linus Dungdung, S.J.

Fr. Patrick Kullu was born on 17 March 1929 at Bairbera in Dhingurpani Parish in Simdega Diocese. He comes from a middle class family. His father Agapit Kullu was a well known village doctor, greatly respected by all the people of the surroundings. Both his father and mother were religious minded persons. They belonged to a Sarna village and received baptism before their marriage. After their baptism the whole village became Christian. Patrick has one brother and two sisters; he was the third in the family. His youngest sister is a religious in Holy Cross Congregation. As a boy, Patrick received love and affection from all.

Patrick did his primary education in the village school up to 3rd standard and then was sent to the hostel at Rengarih Middle School. There he showed himself a very calm and quiet person. He studied till 7th class in Rengarih. For his high school he was sent to St. Mary’s High School, Samtoli. During the summer vacation he used to teach small dramas to the villagers for the May procession which the villagers enjoyed watching. After finishing his high school, he came to St. Xavier’s College, Ranchi for his intermediate.

He was selected as a suitable candidate for the Society of Jesus and he joined the novitiate at Sitagarha on 27 June, 1952. Right from the novitiate Patrick was a man, living in God’s presence. The religious spirit became a part of his life. He went to De Nobili College, Pune for his Philosophy and thereafter to Kunkuri for his regency of two years. After his regency he was sent for theology to Kurseong. In 1963 he was ordained a priest in Kurseong. Soon after his theology, he was appointed Socius to the Novice Master for two years. As he proved himself to be a good formator through his dedication and commitment, he was sent to the Gregorian University, Rome to study Spirituality. On his return from Rome he was appointed parish priest of Bandgaon for pastoral experience. As a parish priest he was for and with the people. This impressed the people of Bandgaon parish though he was there for only one year. In 1969 after a year of pastoral experience he was appointed Novice Master at Sitagarha.

He started his work with great dedication. He was determined to form the novices into solid Jesuits. Being himself a person of God, he was able to help the novices to find God in their prayer and work. He insisted that the life of each novice be deeply rooted in Jesus so that they prove themselves true Jesuits in all circumstances. He tried to train them to be disciplined persons. At the same time he was concerned with the overall growth of the novices. His teachings and instructions were an expression of his personal experiences and convictions and in this way he helped the novices to find God in all things. During his conferences he would present concrete examples from the life of the ordinary people. When he was giving remarks he would quote from the life of the ordinary people so that it may enter into the minds of the novices. Fr. Patrick was seen as a model in the novitiate and inspired the novices through his life style. Novices looked up at him as a strict novice master as well as a kind person. He was deeply concerned with the novices during their sickness. He came for the common recreation once in a week to tell the novices news of the Province and of the Society, under ‘karanj’ tree.

After spending ten years as Novice Master, he was made parish priest of Tongo but he could not stay long there as another need arose to start a new novitiate in Madhya Pradesh. In 1980 he became Novice Master of the new novitiate of the MP region, first at Raigarh and later at Namna in Ambikapur. Thereafter he was made the in-charge of the juniors at Bhopal for one year.

Father Patrick was appointed Regional Superior of Madhya Pradesh in 1986. During his tenure as Regional Superior he insisted that the life of all the Jesuits be deeply rooted in Christ so that they may give witness of Christ to the world. He opened mission stations in the interior villages. During his exhortation to the communities he urged the members to be of one mind and heart. As Regional Superior he submitted the request to Rome to raise Madhya Pradesh to a separate province. This request was granted and at the end of tenure he was able to hand over charge to the newly appointed Provincial. On his return to Ranchi, he was sent to the Andamans where he served the people of Diglipur parish as Parish Priest. After a year the bishop of Port Blair appointed him as a spiritual director of the diocese. In 2002 he was called back to Ranchi because of ill-health and was posted at Ashirvad novitiate as a teacher of novices and spiritual director and confessor of the community.

When we look back to the life of Fr. Patrick we find that he spent most of his life doing spiritual ministry. He was found to be a suitable guide for the novices as well as for others – Jesuits and non-Jesuits. He prepared many as true Jesuits who can live and work for the Lord. In the novitiate as Novice Master though he was strict, he was also a very compassionate person and helped the novices to grow in an intellectually and spiritually. He understood his responsibility well and with great dedication and commitment he fulfilled them. In discharging his responsibility he was humble to accept advice from others and learn more from others.

All through his life, Fr. Patrick is seen as a person of God. The fruit of his God-experience was seen in his life. He guided many people – clergy as well as laity and they profited from his talks and advice. In the Andamans and Nicobar Islands he touched the lives of many people even of non-Christians. Christians as well as non-Christians regarded him as a spiritual man who had real encounter with God in his life. In the Andamans the people of other faiths wanted to touch the fringe of his cassock as we find a woman touching the fringe of Jesus’ cloak to be healed. Such was the impression of Patrick on people. It was not only in the Andamans but in Ranchi too many religious profited from him when they came for retreat and spiritual advice.

At one time he seemed unhappy because he did not have an academic degree. Due to this lack he felt handicapped as his desire was to do more in other fields too. But later one of his close friends told him that he had a degree in spirituality by which he could help many people and this is what happened in his life. The advice of his friend was very valuable for Patrick and with that advice he remained a committed person.

On September 16, 2009 he was found unconscious in his room in the morning and was rushed to Raj Hospital, Ranchi where he breathed his last in the evening at 6.15 p.m. and surrendered himself into the hands of Our Lord. The Burial Mass was conducted in the Cathedral and his body was taken to A.T.C., Namkum for burial on Sept. 17, 2009. Many of his family members, acquaintances, spiritual sons and daughters gave him a beautiful burial.