“For many are called, but few are chosen” St Mathew 22:14.
Rev Fr P K George was born in a village in Mylapra, Pathanamthitta, Kerala. He had his primary school education in Mylapra. After schooling he acquired Diploma in Civil Engineering and my mother, Late Mrs Annamma Oonnoony, was his classmate for the Diploma course. My mother used to remember him as the most disciplined and religious student. From childhood he was closely associated with St. Kurakose Ashram (Attachakkal), he was related to Attachakkal Rambachan and he became his ‘spiritual’ GURU. After studies in Kerala, he moved to Rajasthan and served for the Rajasthan state government for many years. During this period he completed his Bachelor’s Degree. While serving in the Rajasthan Government, “the Divine call came” and Achen decided to dedicate his life for the LORD’s service. He left the government job and became a priest on 21-10-1971.
My association started with Achen from Obra, Sonebhadra district in UP (120kms south of Varanasi) in the year 1975-76 when I was an Engineering student at Gorakhpur. Since then, he was my “Spiritual Father” and had always stood with me as my guide and mentor during my happiness and sorrows. I had the opportunity to travel with him to many places in Eastern UP (1976-81) for the church related activities.
A true Orthodox Christian
We all know that the Orthodox Christianity spread to different parts of the world not by missionary work or through outreach activities, but it is purely based on the prayer and selfless life style of our forefathers. Achen, always led a life of prayer and he practiced what he preached” and prayed 7 times a day which included even mid nights. Irrespective of caste, creed or religion, people approached him for his blessings and prayers. Achen used to pray for them regularly. He had many disciples and well-wishers including Non-Christian North Indians. He had the unique quality of maintaining, a good relationship with people who came across in his life and used to be in regular contact with those people and thereby always preferred to “give rather than to take”
The Moving Church
There is a saying that “where there is a Bishop, there is a church”. In the case of George Achen, people used to call him a “Moving Church”. In the early 1970s, Achen stayed at Rewa, a small town of MP. From Rewa, he used to visit many remote places of UP, M P & Chhattisgarh. Once he left his headquarters, he used to return only after weeks after covering many places. Many churches/ congregations of Kolkatta and Delhi Dioceses of Eastern UP and north- western MP were formed during his stay at Rewa. From Rewa, Achen shifted his headquarters to Allahabad. From Allahabad, in search of his sheep, he could cover many places such as Rae-Barelly, Mirzapur, Badhohi, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Robertsganj, Chopan, Obra, Renukoot, Singrauli etc. At that time reaching Singruli (from Renukoot) was very difficult. He used take lift in coal loaded trucks, tractors etc for reaching many of the destinations. Wherever he visited, he used to interact with all the people. He used to bring all Syrian Christians under one umbrella.
There is one anecdote; I will share……In the 70s when postal communications was the only communication facility available, we received a letter from Achen that he would be coming on a particular date. Achen had to reach Obra by bus from Allahabad (about 300 kms away) but Achen did not reach Obra on the day he had informed us. We were all worried but we had no way to contact him. However next day by afternoon, Achen reached Obra. We enquired about his delay. He told us that during his travel, he met one Mr Peethambaran who was residing at Robertsganj. Achen got down at Robertsganj and stayed with him for a day. There were about 8-10 Malayalees who were working in an electrical substation and in a nearby cement plant. Till 1981, Achen used to visit this place occasionally enroute to Obra, Renukoot and Singrauli areas. In 1980, LL HG (Dr) Geevarghese Mar Osthathios also visited this place, Robertsganj. Achen was the first Syrian Christian Priest to visit Gorakhpur where he conducted Holy Qurbana for 3 years. Achen used to conduct prayer meetings at various localities including Air force stations.
In addition to many remote places of MP and Eastern UP, Achen was the first Syrian Christian Priest to visit Gorakhpur where he conducted Holy Qurbana for 3 years. Achen used to conduct prayer meetings at various localities including Air force stations. At that time late Prof. E J John (former PRO of Malankara Orthodox Church) was Vice-Principal of St Andrews College and Mr. A V Paulose (Former Member, Railway Board and Senior Member of Hauz Khas Church) was in Gorakhpur for a short period.
The second anecdote ……….Achen visited my hostel two times and once stayed with me in the Hostel. I was the only South Indian and Christian student in my college. At that time, North Indians had a different perception about Christianity. However, Achen was able to gain many of my college friends as Achen’s “FANS”, till date many of my friends remember him. Few of my college friends were able to meet Achen during my daughter’s wedding reception at Noida and had many old memories to share.
From Allahabad, he preferred to remain in Ambala and he served the people from Ambala till he recently went back to Kerala due to illness. From Ambala, he used to travel to many places and he established many churches and congregations of Delhi Diocese. Few places which I remember are: Jaipur, Kota, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur. Dholpur Punjab & Haryana: Ambala, Patiala, Bhatinda, Hissar, Pathankot, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jallandhar, Jammu, Sri Nagar, Haridwar, Dehradun etc
Discovery of a remote Christian Village in MP
During his travels Achen used to wear only his cassock (priestly garments). In addition, he used to wear the wooden black cross. Once Achen was travelling in a bus through a forest area in MP and the bus broke down and all the passengers got out of the bus. Seeing Achen in his cassock, a few villagers approached him and informed him that they were some Christians and no priest had visited them after independence. Achen stopped his onward journey and followed them to their village and spend one night with them. After returning to Rewa, Achen visited the Catholic Bishop of Rewa and informed him about the incident. Subsequently, Catholic Church re-established Christianity in that village.
Capability of Prophesy
Many people approached, Achen for his blessings and intercessory prayers. I have seen that all the advices/suggestion given by Achen to his followers was always fruitful and he always, submitted the issues to God Almighty through special prayers. I would like to share my personal experience about Achen’s advice. My daughter’s wedding reception at Noida was in November and the venue we had selected was an open lawn. It is not common to have rains in November. But that day, Achen asked me to keep in mind an alternate arrangement, if it rained in the evening. As I kept Achen’s advice in mind I could re-arrange the venue to a covered area in time as it rained in the evening.
Apostle of North India
Achen’s Contribution to Christianity in North India is unforgettable and I don’t think anyone could have taken so much pain in meeting people and fulfilling their spiritual needs in so many places in North India.
He had a monastic and celibate life throughout his life. At the age of 80, after serving the Church as a priest for about 44 years, Achen entered eternal life on May 23, 2015. In all respect, remembering Rev Fr P K George as an “Apostle of North India” is a true tribute to Achen.
May His soul rest in peace in the hands of our Saviour.