John Barrett S. J.
Fr. John Barrett S.J. was the pioneering spirit behind the Catholic News India (CNI), and Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA). The founder -editor of Sanjivan, a Hindi Catholic weekly, Fr. Barrett was a great visionary and organiser. In 1963, he called together the leading Catholic editors to form the Indian Catholic Press Association. Fr. Barrett showed by word and example the need to coordinate Catholic press activities in the country. He worked tirelessly to achieve these goals.
The Indian Catholic Press Association has gratefully preserved the memory of Fr. Barrett by constituting The Barrett Award for Journalism given to the best South Asian Regional News (SAR News) reporter every year. The ICPA has also honoured the memory of this great missionary and champion of the press by naming its house in Bangalore an now in Delhi as“Barrett Bhavan”.
( Fr George Plathottam)
Devanand Chakkungal SVD (1934- 2000)
Swami Devanand Chakkungal SVD, poet, author and member of the Indian Catholic Press Association died on December 6, 2000. Born on April 4, 1934 in Ezhalloor, Kothamangalam, Kerala, Joseph, as he was known then, joined the Divine Word Seminary in 1953. In the novitiate he took the name Devanand. He was ordained a priest in 1964. He was a teacher, parish priest, principal, administrator, writer and poet.
Devanand proved his literary skills in the several books, poems and articles he wrote in Hindi and Malayalam. During the 36 years of his ministry, Devanand published 35 titles, twenty of them in Hindi and the rest in Malayalam. His first major publication was the History of Hindi Literature in Malayalam, and his last publication in Hindi was Rastrabhasa Geetavali, a collection of his 125 best poems. Devanand won awards for both these publications.
Devanand won several literary awards, honorary degrees and laurels from several institutions from India and abroad. Devanand had a passionate love for Hindi and he tried his best to promote it, believing that it would be lead to greater national integration. ICPA has established an award in his memory with a contribution from his SVD Indore Province.
( Fr George Plathottam)
Horace Rozario S. J. (1923-2002)
Fr. Horace Rozario, S.J., (79) died on July 28, 2002. Like the late Jesuit Father John Barrett, the Father of the Indian Catholic Press, Fr. Rozario was a precious gift of the religious press in India. With his passing away many Catholic journalists and writers have lost a friend, guide and a mentor.
The Letters to the Editor page was one of the most popular columns in the Herald during the editorship of Fr. Horace. They were the voices of the people – the voices of conviction and even passion.
Fr. Horace was not only involved with the Herald; he was very active in the national press forum. He had a good rapport with many newsmen whom he guided, instructed and encouraged to write for the Church journals.
He was the founder member of the Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) and three times its president. He was founder-president of the South Asian Religious News (SAR) News and the South Asian Catholic Press Association (SACPA). He carried his responsibility with thorough dedication.
The early days of the ICPA were hard. There were many problems he had to face – many decisions he had to make alone. It was not easy sailing. Anyone else in such a situation would have simply abandoned the sinking ship. But Fr. Horace did not.
He served as the editor of the Herald for 31 years. Later he served as the rector of St. Xavier’s and as the Executive Director of the Chitrabani, Kolkata.
In an editorial he wrote (Nov. 3, 1957) “The grave is not a dead-end but a door. It is our reunion with our dear departed and coming home to Christ and His Mother.”
(Mr Allan R. Johannes)
Mr. J. R. Victor Karunan (1921-1995)
Mr. J.R. Victor Karunan, 75, a veteran journalist and a distinguished member of the ICPA, died of heart failure in his home in Bangalore on November 16, 1995. Mr. Karunan was born on April 10, 1921 in Madras. After working for a decade at Remco in Bangalore and for another decade at the Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control, he worked as a part time secretary for the first Archbishop of Bangalore, Thomas Pothacamury and Archbishop Simon Lourdusamy. When the CBCI was founded in 1944, Mr. Karunan became its secretary. He also worked in the National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre(NBCLC), Bangalore, and the Theological Publications of India(TPI).
Recalled to the CBCI Centre in 1975, Mr. Karunan organized the administrative structure and archives of the CBCI headquarters. Later, he worked with Indo-German Social Service Society (IGSS), Misereor, a German Funding agency in New Delhi. He was, for two years, the Secretary General of the All India Catholic Union.
His greatest contribution, however, was to Catholic Journalism. He served as Special Correspondent of the News service of India (CNI) for over 18 years. When he worked as a secretary for the Archbishop of Delhi, he started Voice of Delhi, a publication for the Delhi archdiocese. He played an important role in starting the News Bureau of India (NBI) and South Asian Religious News (SAR News). Till his death on November16, he worked as a Correspondent for Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) and regularly wrote for The New Leader.
In 1994 the New Leader awarded him the Scroll of Honour for Significant Lifetime Service to Christian Journalism. Mr Karunan was a committed Catholic and a distinguished journalist who served the Catholic Press in India till the end of his life. .
(Fr George Plathottam)
Veteran Journalist, Educator Father John Vallamattam (1931-2005)
Father John Vallamattam, a former president of the International Federation of Catholic Periodicals and the Indian Catholic Press Association died on September 19, 2005 after protracted health problems. He was 74.
Father Vallamattam entered the international Catholic media scene after he became president of the International Federation of Catholic Periodicals, a unit of the International Catholic Union of the Press (UCIP). He was president of the federation from 1989 to 1995
The journalist-priest organized the UCIP world congress in New Delhi in 1986, the first such event to be held in Asia. “That was the time he was just starting to work with UCIP,” said his long-time associate Father George Veliparambil.
Father Veliparambil said his late friend was “multi-faceted in its true sense,” skilled as an organizer, legal consultant, educator, demographer, facilitator and trouble-shooter in conflict situations. “And he did all these with great accuracy,” he added.
Father Vallamattam began his teaching career as a history lecturer in a college run by his diocese Kothamangalam and later became principal of another college. He was also a member of several government educational boards in the Southern State of Kerala.
The priest also led forums that fought for the rights of minority-run educational institutions. He headed the Kerala Private College Managements´ Association and the Kerala Council of Catholic Colleges.
He also served as the secretary of the education commission of the Catholic Bishops´ Conference of India (CBCI) and was a member of the executive council of the International Federation of Catholic Universities. He was also the CBCI Deputy Secretary General from September 1979 to March 1987.
He is credited with starting three publications. The first he started for his diocese and the second, “Catholic India,” for the bishops´ conference. “Indian Currents,” a weekly he began in 1989, is the third.
Father Vallamattam was the president of the Indian Catholic Press Association from 1983 to 1989.
Father Paul Thelakkat, spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Church, rated Father Vallamattam as a great leader who played a key role in shaping the priorities of the Church in India. “He fought for minority rights and stood for the cause of the Church. He made sure that his voice was heard,” said Father Thelakkat.
(Courtesy: UCA News)
Msgr George Veliparambil (1930-2017)
An era in journalism, especially in the Catholic Church, came to an end when Fr. George Veliparambil, former Managing Editor of the Kerala Times and president of the Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA), died on May 15, 2017.
According to reports and obituary write-ups, Father Veliparambil was on the forefront in modernizing Malayalam language and journalistic style of reporting and writing. As Kerala Times Managing Editor, he revived ‘Satya Nadam’ (True Voice), one of the oldest periodicals in Malayalam.
An editor with social conscience, Father Veliparambil voiced the problems of the poor fisherfolks in the coastal region and championed their cause. During his three decades of service as the Kerala Times Managing Editor he researched on various topics of public interest. He then shared his views and idea using public forums and writings.
“Professionalize or perish,” was Fr. Valiparambil’s call to journalists and writers in print media.
One of the founding Editors of the Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA), it was when Fr Veliparambil was the Association’s President that ICPA was registered as a Charitable Society and he lent his office address (Kerala Times Buildings, Banerji Road, Cochin, Kerala 682018) as the official registered address of the Association.
Fr. Veliparambil rendered his services in various press media organizations in Kerala, in India and in International level. At all India level he was elected first as the general secretary of ICPA in 1983 and then he was president from 1992 to 1995. At International level he was the president of the South Asian Catholic Press Association, a member of the International Catholic Union of the Press.
In the current socio-religio-political situation a question, which Msgr. George Veliparambil often asked, is very relevant. In his message published in ICPA Golden Jubilee Souvenir he posed the question. Today every journalist in India should ask the same question to himself/herself: “where does the very profession of journalists stand?”
(Fr Varghese Paul)