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First and longest serving Bishop of Tura laid to rest

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Tura, July 8: Thousands bid a tearful adieu to the beloved bishop who was a pioneer, architect of the Catholic Church in Garo hills and one of the longest serving Bishops of Tura Diocese. Bishop Emeritus George Mamalassery was laid to rest at Cathedral Mary Help of Christians Church, R C Road, Tura today evening.

The main celebrant for the Funeral Mass was Most Rev John Moolachira, chairman northeast bishop’s council con-celebrated by Bishop of Tura Andrew R Marak and auxiliary bishop of Tura C J Jose along with other Archbishops, bishops from North East Region.

During these three days, requiem mass and prayers have been offered continuously for the Lt. Bishop George Mamalassery by all the Priests, Religious and faithful from Tura Diocese.

It may be mentioned that he was the first Bishop of Tura Diocese and had served for 28 long years (1979-2007) and even after his retirement he chose to stay in Garo Hills and continue to serve the people of the region till his last breath.

Born on 22nd April 1932, he was ordained on 24th April 1960 and his Episcopal Consecration was on 18th March 1979. He was known for his tireless efforts in promoting education, healthcare and social services especially for the underprivileged sections of the society. His selfless service and dedication to the people have left an impact on the lives of many.

As the Bishop of Tura he opened 23 new parishes with Churches, presbyteries, convents, hostel for boys and girls and school in each parish. Apart from rendering spiritual and moral leadership bishop George has contributed a lot to the development of Garo Hills and 57 LP Schools, 35 ME Schools, 16 Secondary Schools, 2 higher Secondary Schools, 24 girls hostel and 23 boys hostel spread all over Garo Hills to his credit including 34 dispensaries across Garo Hills region and founded the 150 bedded Holy Cross Hospital in Tura in 1993 many more. The church in India remains deeply indebted to him for his missionary work in Garo Hills and his foundational role in the Diocese of Tura.

During the funeral service, rich floral tributes were paid by Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma along with his wife Mehtab Chandee A Sangma, Chairman Northeast Bishops Council, Most Rev John Moolachira, Archbishop of Shillong Diocese, Most Rev Victor Lyngdoh, Archbishop of Imphal, Most Rev. Linus Neli, Archbishop Emeritus of Guwahati, Most Rev. Thomas Menamparampil, Archbishop Emeritus of Imphal, Most Rev. Dominic Lumon, Bishop Emeritus of Itanagar, Most Rev. John Thomas, Bishop of Agartala, Most Rev. Lumen Monteiro, Bishop of Bongaigaon, Most Rev. Thomas Pullopillil, Bishop of Aizawl, Most Rev. Stephen Rotluanga CSC,  Bishop of Miao, Most Rev George Palliparampil SDB, Bishop of Tura, Most Rev. Andrew R Marak, Bishop of Tezpur, Most Rev. Michael Akasius, Bishop of Kohima, Most Rev. James Thoppil, Bishop of Dipu, Most Rev. Paul Mattekatt, Bishop of Dibrugarh, Most Rev. Albert Hemrom, Auxiliary Bishop of Miao, Most Rev. Denis Panipitchai, Auxiliary Bishop of Aizawl, Most Rev. Joachim Walder, Bishop of Nongstoin, Most Rev Wilbert Marwein, MLA Songsak Assembly constituency, Dr Mukul M Sangma and other distinguished dignitaries.

While offering his heartfelt condolence message on behalf of the Government of Meghalaya, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said that “We are here to mourn that the passing of a remarkable individual Bishop George Mamalassery and his demise is a profound loss for Garo Hills, the catholic community and all those who knew him. He said that Lt. Bishop was a true servant of God, dedicated to the well being of others; his selflessness, his compassion and vision have left an indelible mark in our lives. From his missionary work in Garo Hills and North east in particular to his tireless efforts in education, health and social service and has inspired many, the Chief Minister said.

Further, he mentioned that he was a mentor, a guide and a friend to many including his Lt father Purno A Sangma. He then expressed his utmost gratitude to his numerous contributions for the people of Garo Hills and said that the people of Garo Hills can never forget his good works.

Condolence messages had been pouring in from all corners including the Condolence message from Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio in India, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State and Luis Antonio G Cardinal Tagle, Pro-Project Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Secretary which was read by Rev Fr. Lyngdoh T Sangma, Parish Priest, St Luke Church, Walbakgre.

Rev Fr. Thomas John, Principal, St Mary’s Higher Secondary School, Tura, Fr, Sebastian Kurichlyll SDB, Salesian Provincial of Guwahati, Sr. Christina Mynsong, Superior General, MSMHC, Rev. Dilseng M Sangma, General Secretary, Garo Baptist Convention, Sr. Dr. Immaculate, Holy Cross Hospital, Tura, Msgr. Joseph Thadathil, Vicar General, Diocese of Palai, Seldin Sangma, President, Catholic Union, Fr. Joby Mamalassery, CST (Nephew of Bishop Mamalassery), Rev. Fr. Kurian Padinjarayil were among others who offered a condolence message during the funeral service. Condolence message was also received from Khasi Jaintia Christian Leaders Forum (KJCLF), etc.

Former MP, Tura Agatha K Sangma, MLA, Songsak Assembly Constituency, Dr. Mukul M Sangma, MLA Raksamgre Assembly Constituency, Limison D Sangma, MDC, Tura Bernard N Marak, Deputy Commissioner, West Garo Hills, Jagdish Chelani, Provincial Superiors, Mother General, Priest , Sisters, Brothers, Government Officials and people from all walks of life from Tura and beyond attended the funeral service. Bishop Jose Chirackal, Auxiliary Bishop of Tura expressed the words of gratitude to all after the funeral service.

In his homily, Bishop of Tura Andrew R Marak expressed his immense gratitude to all the Archbishops, Bishops, Priest, all Religious and laity for coming and taking part in the funeral service in spite of bad weather conditions and for praying for the soul of our beloved Bishop George Mamalassery.

Sharing his thoughts on Bishop George Mamalassery, he said that he had served the people whole-heartedly and with utmost dedication without expecting anything in return. He also mentioned that people could not pronounce the name Mamalassery and therefore fondly called him Bishop Mama and added that in Garo Culture Mama refers to one of the most respectable persons in the family.

He also mentioned that Bishop Mamalassery had once said that he was convinced to be sent by God to serve as a missionary in Garo Hills. Further, speaking about his various contributions to the Garo society and Garo hills region in particular, he expressed his gratitude to the late Bishop and wished him greater glory in heaven.

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