Rev. Fr. Varghese Thottamkara C.M. nominated co-adjuctor Bishop of Vicar Apostolic of Nekemte (Etiopia) His Holiness Pope Francis has nominated Rev. Fr. Varghese Thottamkara CM as Coadjutor Bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Nekemte (Ethiopia) with the right of succession.
The nomination was announced on Friday 28th of June 12.00 noon (Italian time) at Vatican and in Ethiopia simultaneously. Profiles of Fr. Varghese Thottamkara C.M. Early days, Schooling and Formation: Fr. Varghese was born on 23rd May 1960 at Thottuva, in Ernakulam District, to late Mr &Mrs. Souru and Mariam Thottamkara. He has 3 brothers and 2 sisters. His mother died in 1983 while doing his first year of theology studies and Father in 1992 while serving as a missionary in Ethiopia. After finishing the matriculation studies at G. V. H. School, Koovapady, he applied to join the CM and was recruited by late Fr. Louis Vadakeparambil and joined the minor Seminary of the Congregation at St. Vincent’s, Gopalpur, in July 1976. The philosophy studies were done at Aquinas College from 1979-1982. Entered the novitiate on 11th May 1982 under the guidance of late Fr. Joseph Pudussery and made the good purposes on 11th May 1983 at Stella Maris, Gopalpur. The Theology studies were done in St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Alwaye. He made his final vows on 10th May 1986. He was ordained a deacon on the following day at Gopalpur by Rt. Rev. Thomas Thiruthalil C.M. He was ordained a priest on 6th January 1987 at his home parish, St. Joseph’s Church, Thottuva by the late cardinal Antony Padiyara of the Ernakulam- Angamaly Archdiocese. Ministries in India: • First Appointment was to Muniguda as Assistant Pastor in 1987 • From February 1988 to Septemeber 1990, he served as Assistant pastor and hostel warden at Christnagar (Allada). Ethiopian Missionary: • In October 1990 he was sent to Ethiopia to teach in the Minor Seminary of the Vincentians of Ethiopia at Ambo, where he learned the local language, Amharic. • In 1992 he started teaching in the Major Seminary at Addis Ababa as a visiting Professor. • In 1993 he was transferred to Addis Ababa as the first Rector of St. Paul’s Major Seminary of the Apostolic Vicariate of Nekemte. During this time he was teaching various topics in Theology at St. Francis Theological Institute. He also served as the Judicial Vicar of the Vicariates of Southern Ethiopia. Further studies in Rome: In 1995 he was sent by the Ethiopian province to specialize in Moral Theology at Rome. On completion of his studies he was awarded a Licentiate in Moral Theology with Summa Cum laude from St. Thomas University of the Dominicans known as ‘Angelicum’ Back in Ethiopia • He returned back to Ethiopia in 1997 September and was appointed Rector of the Vincentian Major Seminary at Addis Ababa and continued teaching in the Institute. Meanwhile he was elected as the Dean of Theology of the Institute. • He was elected to the provincial council of the Ethiopian Province in 1998. He served also as the News-letter editor of the Province. • He taught part-time courses in the Formation Programme of the CMRS (Conference of the Major Religious Superiors) and taught Medical Ethics in the Nursing College of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference at Wolliso. • He was sought after by various religious Congregations and diocesan authorities in Ethiopia as retreat preacher and Spiritual director. Return to India In 2002 June as he fell sick with allergic Bronchitis, he came to India for treatment. At the advice of the doctor to take break from teaching and to move to a warmer place at least for some months, he was pursuaded to stay back in India. He was appointed as Rector of minor seminary at Dharkast in October 2002. In 2003 he was elected as a provincial councilor and assistant provincial of the Southern Indian Province. In May 2004, he was appointed Rector and Superior of St. Vincent’s Mission House, Alwaye. He attended as a delegate of the Southern Indian Province the General Assembly held at Rome in 2004. In the General Curia: The Superior General appointed him Procurator General to the Holy See of the Congregation of the Mission and of the Daughters of Charity cum Archivist at the General Curia in 2005. As Procurator General his main duty was to be the representative of the Superior General to the Holy See. He had to deal with cases of dismissals and dispensations, obtain important documents from the Holy See, submit report about the Status of the Congregation to the Holy See, obtain permissions from Holy See for sale and alienations of properties of the Congregation, obtain tickets for papal audiences and visits to Vatican museum and SCAVI for the confreres who request it, obtain Vatican passports, identity cards for the Superior General and other officials in the curia. As procurator General he also gave conferences during the session of the newly appointed visitors. He was also the Archivist General of the Congregation. In this capacity he was in charge of the Archives of the Congregation. While serving as Archivist General he studied Master’s Course in Archivistry and Paleography at the state university of LUMSA in collaboration with the Vatican Library. He had to maintain and take care of the Archives. He started computerization of the documents and converting paper documents to CDs and microfilms for preserving the documents. While in curia Fr. Varghese was appointed Superior of the Curia community in which position he could continue only one month as he was elected Visitor of the Southern Indian Province. He was the first Indian confrere to be appointed to a post in the General Curia either as Procurator General, Archivist or as the community Superior. Back in India at the helm of the Province: Though the appointment as Procurator General was for six years, when he was elected by the confreres of Southern Indian Province to take over as the Visitor, respecting the election mandate the superior General dispensed him from the office of the Procurator General and confirmed the election results and asked him to take over the duty in India. So he came to India in August and took over as the Provincial Superior on the 11th of September 2006. Assistant General of the Congregation of the Mission: On July 10th 2010 in the Jubilee year of the death of St. Vincent, during the General Assembly, at Paris (where the mortal remains of St. Vincent is preserved), he was elected one of the Assistant Generals of the Congregation of the Mission. He has been given the responsibility of Assistant for the Missions and Delegate to the Provinces and International Missions of Asia Pacific Zone. On 28th of June 2013, Holy Father nominated him Coadjutor bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Nekemte in Ethiopia (East Af