Showing the way to all
On the occasion of the golden jubilee of the archdiocese of Hyderabad, former archbishop Samineni Arulappa will be honoured for his active role in the Church and society.
RADICAL LEADERSHIP: Archbishop Dr. Samineni Arulappa.
AT A conference for women's empowerment, the speaker began his talk with this observation: "In the beginning god created man and rested. Then he created woman and since then neither god nor man has rested.'' The effect was electric. And who was the speaker? Who else but the popular former head of the Archdiocese of Hyderabad, Most Rev. Archbishop Dr. Samineni Arulappa. The secret of Archbishop Arulappa's humour lies in his inner happiness. Once, he gave a clue to that happiness. "Joy is the colossal secret of a Christian,'' he said. He seems to have literally lived St. Paul's exhortation, "Rejoice in the lord always.'' In a way, he was the prime architect of the archdiocese.
March 19 marks the 31st anniversary of Archbishop Arullappa's installation as head of the Archdiocese of Hyderabad. This is the golden Jubilee year of the archdiocese and Archbishop Arulappa's 28-year-long active service will naturally be cherished by an affectionate public, especially on the 19th. That he has provided a radical new leadership for the Church and society makes the occasion all the more significant.
Archbishop Arulappa is a fascinating person. He brought the Church to the centre stage of society. This transition followed his own transition. As an Archbishop, he was a spiritual leader. And a spiritual leader is not for just one community but for all sections of society, and in every activity of the human person.
The historic second Vatican Council provided the new spirit for Archbishop Arulappa and he wanted that new spirit to radically renew the Church and society. His own background and personal qualities admirably fitted him for his mission. He has a sparkling mind. He is cheerful and serene. He is fresh in his ideas, flexible in temperament, generous in attitude and liberal in outlook. He had Oxford education after his MA from Loyala College, Madras. When nominated to the `See' of Hyderabad, he was the youngest archbishop in the country. He was specially invited by Pope Paul VI to Rome and was consecrated by the Pope himself at the historic celebration of the 350th anniversary of the Congregation for Propagation of Faith. The archbishop naturally started with a big image capital. And he was an excellent speaker. With his strong, steely, stentorian voice, with his profound scholarship, and with clear thought and simple diction, he easily impressed his audience and was much in demand as a speaker.
For an increase in Church's service to society, Archbishop Arulappa invited into the archdiocese different congregations of priests, nuns, and brothers. The entry of the Jesuits into Hyderabad has resulted in Loyala Academy and other Jesuit institutions in the State capital. The Church in AP has seen phenomenal growth under his leadership. Regarding all-Christian unity, he told a gathering of Christian leaders, "Christ has established one Church. If there are more Churches, it is the work of man, work of the devil.'' The archbishop had cordial relations with leaders of other religions especially with the Ramakrishna Mission.
After his retirement, he has authored two books. One of them, Want To Be A Hero has already run into the third edition. Archbishop Arulappa, still defying age, continues to be a beacon to fellow bishops and priests -- most of whom he himself ordained -- and to numerous people. A rare leader indeed. The Church needs leaders of his type in our pluralistic society.
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