A Loving Tribute to my Master and Teacher
(August 31, 2020)
Rev. Dr. Paul Shabor Kalluveettil, CMI
Birth : January 21, 1940
Profession : May 16, 1958
Ordination : December 01, 1964
Death : August 31, 2020
Rev. Dr. Paul Shabor Kalluveettil, CMI (1940-2020), the former Professor of Sacred Scripture at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (DVK), Bangalore, was called to eternal life on Monday, August 31, 2020! May the departed soul rest in peace!
Fr. Paul Kalluveettil wasa staunch believer in God (the Lord of Hosts), whom he dared to call ‘appan’ (father), as taught by our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, and after the model of our Founder, St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara. His doctoral dissertation, Declaration and Covenant (Rome, Biblical Institute Press, 1982) clearly captures the glimpses of the filial (covenantal) relationship between God and human beings.The very person of Paul Kalluveettil was a living testimony of his rapport with God, the Father. The thrust of his life and activities at Dharmaram Collegewas a celebration of his conviction that God is our ‘appan’. I just recall just one of the specific features of Fr. Paul, namely how affectionately he handled the Bible, how earnestly and meditatively he read the Bible (Word of God), and how intelligibly and creatively he interpreted the Bible (Word of God) for the sake of the scholastics/hearers.
Fr. Paul Kalluveettil was an erudite Bible scholar (especially in the Old Testament), who secured his Licentiate in the Sacred Scripture (LSS) and Doctorate in the Scared Scripture (DSS) from Biblicum (Pontifical Biblical Institute), Rome. His scholarly works reveal his mastery over the subjects, his critical insights on the biblical motifs, and, above all, his personal and creative reflections on the characters and events of the Bible.His numerous publications – books and articles –proclaim the untold stories of his scholarship, great intellectual acumen and profound understanding of the Bible and the allied subjects. The most widely held works by Fr. Paul Kalluveettil include (a) Declaration and Covenant: A comprehensive review of covenant formulae from the Old Testament and the ancient Near East (1982), (b) The Lord of Heaven and Earth(2004), (c)Word as Metaphor: Towards a poetic hermeneutics (2009), (d) Suviśēṣattile strīkaḷ (2009), (e) The world becomes the "word" (2009), (f) Mārān 'āttā', Come Lord Jesus(2012), (g) The Word of the World: The book of beginnings (2012), (h) Mission and Evangelization: Biblical perspectives (2015), (i) Markkōsint̲e suviśēṣabhāṣyaṃ (2017), (j) The Divine Pedagogy of Formation (2019).
Fr. Paul Kalluveettil was a loving master of students, who formed them to become genuine religious priests in the CMI Congregation. Indeed I hadthe privilege to be one of his ‘wards’ during my theology studies (1983-1986) at Dharmaram College, Bangalore. Maybe, his vast experience as the Senior Tutor of the Scholastics of the undivided Devamatha Province, Trissur, and a short stint as a missionary in the Mar Thomas Province, Chanda (where he later became the Provincial), helped him to know his pupils sufficiently well. He had his own convictions of an ideal ‘guru’ and a heart of an ‘appan’, who could discern what is good and right for each and every ward, entrusted to his loving care. For, his method/pedagogy of formation was that of Yahweh, who journeyed with the people of God, as well established in his book, The Divine Pedagogy of Formation. I can vividly recall how Fr. Paul Kalluveettil, in his capacity as the Senior Tutor of Scholastics, lovingly accompanied Bro. Avarachan (Jacob) Peenickaparambil, who was diagnosed with cerebral cancer and underwent brain surgery at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore.
Fr. Paul Kalluveettil was a passionate teacher with purpose and commitment. With joy and gratitude, I still remember his lectures on “Theology of the Prophets” and “Wisdom Literature.” What is said about Jesus could be very true of Fr. Paul Kalluveettil: “[…] the crowds [students] were astounded at his teaching. For he taught them as one having authority” (Mt. 7: 28-29). The impact of his teaching was such that I re-wrote all the class-notes and kept them with me all through these years. I still cherish the written class-notes of “Theology of the Prophets” (146 pages) and “Wisdom Literature” (82 pages), which are referred to whenever I need them for retreats, recollections, or homilies.He opened his lectures on “Prophets” with the question: “What is the prophetic function of the priests and religious?” In his own words, prophets are called “to conscientize the world of sin, justice and judgement.” Fr. Paul Kalluveettil concluded his lectures on “Wisdom Literature” with a clarion call: “Modern man is in pursuit of knowledge, which would bring him happiness, fame, wealth, etc. But man has to be born ‘wise’ again.” The primary objective of his teaching, to my humble mind, was to inculcate in each scholastic the values of a ‘wise prophet’, who walks after the face of Yahweh.
Fr. Paul Kalluveettil was a lover of good books, after the model of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, who said: “Regular reading of good books and meditating on it will illumine the mind” (Cf. Sayings of St. Chavara to Children). Following the precepts of St. Chavara, Fr. Paul procured for the students “the treasure of books packed with wisdom and philosophical knowledge that enhance piety” (Cf. Chavarul, 21). Of course, he had a preferential option for the biblical texts and books. During his tenure of office as the Librarian of Dharmaram College, he collected some of the best Biblical Commentaries and Dictionaries, to name a few, Baker Exegetical Commentaries, Word Biblical Commentaries, Anchor Yale Commentaries, etc. As the Director of Dharmaram Publications, Bangalore, he encouraged the publication of some of the scholarly works and promoted the publicity and sale of the books of Dharmaram Publications. When we were ordained deacon (1985), we were gifted with a copy of the Dictionary of the Bible, edited by John L. McKenzie, in addition to a set of The Daily Study Bible by William Barclay. As the Senior Tutor and Master of Students, Fr. Paul Kalluveettil inculcated in us the habit of reading good books, which, in fact, had been part and parcel of the annual evaluation of the scholastics.
Yes, who can forget the ‘short’CMI with lofty thoughts and a big heart, who moved along and around the corridors and surroundings of Dharmaram College, who made all the difference, whether it be in the chapel, library, classroom, refectory, shuttle court, or in the office of the master and director, for Fr. Paul Kalluveettil preferred “to take the road less travelled by.” You do depart us from this world; but your words and memories will linger on in the minds and hearts of millions!
We, your students, pay our homage to our GURU!
We, your colleagues, are proud of YOU!
We, your confreres, carry on YOUR legacy!
We, all your brothers and sisters, mourn your sad demise
And pray for YOUR eternal rest and happiness!
Fr. Kurian Kachappilly CMI
Dharmaram College, Bangalore 560 029, Karnataka, India