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Fr Anthappa, Scholar and Historian Passes Away

Published On : 02 Sep 2020

Bengaluru, September 2: An eventful era in the Bangalore Archdiocese's history has come to an end with the passing away of Father Ignatius Anthappa at St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore on August 31.

Fr. Anthappa who was at Clergy Home, near Archbishop’s House on his retirement, passed away in the morning of August 31. He was 91. He Served the Bangalore Archdiocese in various capacities. Fr Anthappa was a scholar who wrote and simplified Kannada Bible which even a normal lay person can understand easily. He received state awards and many more Accolades during his life time.

He was one of the senior priests of Archdiocese and hailed from Harobale, Kanakapura, the outskirts of the city.

Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore in his obituary said the entire Archdiocese was profoundly grieved to inform the sad demise of ‘very Rev Fr I Anthappa’ who would have completed his 91 years on September 12. After his retirement in 2007, he was staying at the Clergy Home, died on August 31, at 5.05 am at St John’s Medical College Hospital here due to old age ailments.

Fr Anthappa was born on September 12, 1929 at Harobale, Kanakapura Taluk and was baptized on November 3, 1929 at Holy Rosary Church, Harobale. His parents were C Innasappa and Anthonamma who were blessed with nine children. He was the second child. He is now survived by his five siblings, two younger brothers and one elder sister and two younger sisters.

After completing his initial primary school studies at Holy Rosary School, Harobale, he did middle school studies at St Aloysius Mddle School and completed High School at St Joseph’s Indian High School, Bangalore. After prayerfully discerning the divine call, he joined St Mary’s Minor Seminary, Bangalore, to do Philosophy and Theology. He was ordained a priest on April 6, 1957 at St Francis Xavier’s Cathedrel, Bangalore, by the Late Archbishop Thomas Pothacamury.

As he was very intelligent, just a few months after ordination, he was sent to Gregorian University, Rome, to do doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.)., which he had completed successfully by securing the highest marks.

After returning to India, he also obtained Master’s Degree from Dharwad University and Completed B.Ed.

He rendered his dedicated service to the archdiocese for fifty years at the following places. He was the Asst Parish Priest at St. Mary’s in 1957. In the same year he completed his doctoral studies in Rome. In 1961, he became the Asst. PP at SFX Cathedral, Cleveland Town within the city. The same year in May he became the Chancellor – Notary and Procurator of Clergy House, Archdiocesan Curia. In 1962, he became the editor, Karnataka Thaare. In August he became Chaplin at St Ann’s Convent here.

In 1967, he became the member of the diocesan Board of Admin. – Ex-Officio member of Council of priests and secretary. In December, he became the diocesan consultor – member of the board of Admin. In 1969, he was the parish priest at Theresa’s Church, J C Road in the city and continued to teach at the Catechetical Centre and editor of Karnataka Thaare. He was the member of college of consultors. In 1976, he became the principal of St Aloysius primary and High Schools, besides being the Secretary of Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE).

In 1983, he was principal of Lourdes School, Halasuru near here. In 1984, he was the parish priest at St Patrick’s Church Brigade Road. In June 1990, he was appointed parish priest at Resurrection Church Indiranagar. In 1997, he was parish priest of Christu Prabhalaya, Jayanagar. In 2003, he was parish priest at Kristha Karunalaya, Jaraganahalli. In May, 2007, he retired and was at Clergy Home.

Fr Anthappa was very spiritual and as such he was very faithfully reciting the divine office and offering the daily holy Mass. One could see him praying in the chapel for a long time before the Blessed Sacrament, seated on his wheel chair.

He was a voracious reader and his room was packed with books on all subjects, especially books on sacred scripture, literature, secular and Church history. He was polyglot and had conversational and working knowledge in several Indian and foreign languages that helped him in his writing and translation work. He never exhibited his talents to get the public attention or people’s recognition.

Fr Anthappa was a hard worker and was burning midnight oil to do his literary and translation work. He was a historian who wrote several scholarly books especially on the origin of Christianity in Anekal (out skirts of city); Establishment and growth of Church in Bangalore; the History of Catholic Church in Karnataka and several other books. He had written more than 25 scholarly books, out of which “Origin of Christianity in and around Srirangapattanam,” originally written in Kannada, is well appreciated and critically acclaimed. He loved to discuss on his writings and also other historical issues with the like-minded people. Many of his books served for some research scholars as resource materials for their doctoral studies.

He had associated himself with the top literary scholars in Karnataka and was an active member of Karnataka Sahitya Parishath. He was invited several times to give speech at Dharma Sthala and other state and secular functions. His talks were well-appreciated and all admired his erudite knowledge on the subjects and scholarly presentations. It is very heartening to know that his works were published in the State and national newspapers and magazines.

The government of Karnataka, recognizing his contributions to Kannada literature, had honoured him with the prestigious Rajyotsva Award in 2001 which he dedicated to all missionaries and Christian scholars who toiled for the development and growth of Kannada literature.

His initiative and contribution to the publication of the New Testament by the Karnataka Catholic Regional Bishops’ Council and the Inter-confessional Bible in Kannada in collaboration with the Bible Society of India were a great contribution to the Catholic Church in Karnataka. But for his initiative, we do not think the Catholic version of the Kannada Bible would have been so expeditiously published. His love for Bible is so deep that he, in his last will, wished that the Bible is kept on his coffin.

Some of his wrings are preserved in some famous libraries in India and abroad, especially in the MEP Fathers’ Library in Paris, France. His books are kept as reference and source materials in many libraries in Karnataka.

He was a very outspoken person and never hesitated to put across his ideas with conviction. Perhaps, St Paul’s words, ‘For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us,” might have motivated him.

The word Evangelization was a focal point in all his speeches and writings and motivated clergy, religious and laity to spread the good news of Christ with real pastoral zeal and with a sense of belonging to the People of God.

When he was Secretary of the ABE, he was instrumental in starting and upgrading schools in the Archdiocese especially in rural areas. In order to facilitate the rural children, he revived the boarding for them at St Aloysius Middle School.

As a pastor, he worked tirelessly for the spiritual and temporal wellbeing of his parishioners, by building many facilities and initiating many programmes for them. To empower the weaker sections, he had started tailoring and compute classes and made them become economically self-reliant.

In the death of Fr I Anthappa, the people and clergy have lost an eminent personality in the Archdiocese. His death caused a great loss, not only to the Archdiocese but also to the Church in Karnataka. His contributions, especially to the promotion of Bible and Evangelization Apostolates will go down in history. With deep sense off gratitude, we place on record his tireless and dedicated services to the archdiocese.Dr Machado said he took this opportunity to express hisr deepest condolences to his Religious Sister, Religious priest-nephew, Deacon-nephew, Br Rayappa of the Archdiocese and other priests and religious in the family, his surviving brothers and sisters, his close relatives and friends and to all the members of the parishes and institutions he worked. He will be membered, not only as Fr I Anthappa but also as Fr I Ananthappa, the Archbishop pointed out.

His funeral Mass took place on September 1 at 3pm at Our Lady of Rosary Church, Harobale.While Bishop T Anthony Swamy, Bishop of Chikmagalur, presided oover the Holy Mass, Archbishop Peter Machado officiated the burial rites at his ancestoral fields in Harobale. The Curia officials of the Archdiocese, the parish priest, his brothers and sisters, the family members, a few priest and religious and the parishioners participated in the funeral Mass and burial rites.

Msgr S Jayanathan, Vicar General of Bangalore Archdiocese sharing his reactions said, in the early days, he too was a member of the Regional Translation Committee and therefore, he has had the privilege of working very closely with V. Rev. Fr Dr I Anthappa. His inputs at the meetings were very scholarly. He explained to the members why poetic form was used in the Old Testament. He was a great scholar, historian and visionary but was very humble and unassuming. His death is a great loss to the entire state of Karnataka and also to India.

C V Joseph


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