A tribute to Rev. Fr. Thomas Chinnappa sdb by Fr T V Jose
The Province of Hyderabad has become poorer by the sudden passing away of Rev. Fr. Thomas Chinnappa. Some people come into your life for a short while, and yet leave their footprints on your heart forever. That is the tribe to which belongs Fr. Thomas Chinnappa. His vibrant personality cannot be contained in few words. He was soft-spoken and unassuming. He was a person who was able to integrate theology with compassion
Without any doubt I can say that he was a phenomenal person, compassionate, sensitive, deeply spiritual, caring and broad-minded. He, in his own simple, humble and inimitable ways was able to create a civilization of love in the midst of violence and hatred. No wonder then that he named the house he pioneered in Mangalagiri for the welfare of the physically challenged children as Don Bosco Prem Nivas. (House of Love). Like his saintly founder Don Bosco, his heart also pained by the plight of the young physically challenged children who roamed the streets of Vijayawada and living in appalling conditions. . He gathered hundreds of them in this house of love. This institution has provided succor and restored the dignity of several youth. He shepherded with compassion. His work breathed nothing but love. The very fabric of his life was woven with God’s infinite goodness and compassion. He exuded unadulterated love and concern.
His favorite words were that of Fr. Peter Ricaldone sdb, “Think well of all, speak well of all and do good to all.” Best sermons are lived and not preached. His life was his message. He had unflinching faith in God and connectivity to the people around him. He immersed himself in the problems of the people. He was one of the spiritual icons of the Province of Hyderabad. His integrity was unquestionable. Life’s blows could not break him because his spirit was warmed at the fire of prayer and enthusiasm.
He who is contented is rich. He was a serene and a contented priest. He was an encourager, because he knew that the world has plenty of critics already. He was humanely human and preached an all embracing religion. Fr. Thomas was convinced of the fact that the Divine is not found in heaven alone but also among us in this muddy world. He had a theologian’s mind, a musician’s soul and a pastor’s heart.
May his legacy inspire today’s priests and religious to lead committed, spiritual and vibrant lives. Let us pledge ourselves to uphold the spirit of dynamism, apostolic zeal and missionary ardour of Fr. Thomas Chinnappa. As we wish you adieu dear Fr. Thomas, we ask you to bless us your dear confreres and the hundreds of boys you loved with passion from your heavenly bliss.