Today morning greeted all of us with the saddest of saddest piece of news that our dear Isaac Achan has been taken to heavenly abode. True, one has to go when called by God. Isaac Achan has been preparing for this departure for some time as he was going through the trauma of cancer. His condition was showing ups and downs for the last couple of years, but was in real suffering for the last few weeks, particularly the last fortnight or so. We all have to have such tribulations to undergo in our life as our Lord did undergo during those days He took flesh and lived among us. Achan suffered his last days in meditation, getting prepared for his assignment with our Lord up there to intercede for all of us.
There are many experiences about Fr Isaac. While trying to adjust to the reality that he is no more with us in flesh and blood, some of such past experiences are enlightening my inner faculties.
Some ten years back, my son had to undergo a surgery at Mandiram Hospital, Manganam and Achan had come to pray for him. Achan started praying for him with the doors of the room opened. His voice was a bit high and gradually, the prayer turned out to be a prayer for all the patients at the hospital. Those who were moving around the veranda stopped to listen and some religiously stood there as if Achan was praying for them also. In short, he did not confine the opportunity to pray at our hospital room exclusively for my son, but for all who were there. This is what a priest should do. He was well aware of what our early Fathers exhorted on the responsibilities of a priest.
A priest known to me shared his experience some twenty plus years back while he was a Deacon and doing his final year at our Seminary. I am naming this Deacon as X. Deacon X, as usual had to have parish services as part of his training and had to attend a parish not far from Kottayam. Fr Z was the Vicar who used to stay at the Seminary on Saturdays. He instructed Deacon X to be in front the room where he was staying, early morning on Sunday. As instructed, Deacon X reported to Fr Z at his room early morning and he was asked to carry the brief case of Fr Z. Deacon X obliged and both travelled on the two wheeler of Fr Z. After the Holy Qurbana, Deacon was asked to take a class for MOMS. He did it and after the class, went to the church room and there was no trace of Fr Z. On enquiry, he came to know that Fr Z had his breakfast and already left the place. Deacon returned on his own to Seminary catching a bus. After a couple of weeks, Deacon X had an assignment at another parish, again within Kottayam. Fr Isaac was the Vicar who sent a message to our Deacon to wait in front of the Seminary. They travelled together and as usual after the Holy Qurbana, Deacon had to take a class for the Youth Movement. After the class, he came to the church room and found Fr Isaac waiting for him without taking his breakfast. Deacon was taken by surprise and said, “Achan, you should have taken your breakfast.” Achan replied, “No, we came together and so we will have breakfast together; I took you from Seminary, and I will drop you back at Seminary.” This is the nobility of Fr Isaac.
Without naming a boy, let me narrate one more incident. This boy had a wish to priesthood, but was from a barely average family. After his schooling, he went to Kottayam and was accommodated at a center where such children are taken care of, but not like an orphanage. One of our Very Rambans was in charge of this system. An year before going there, he had started serving in Holy Madbaha at his parent parish. Many found his reading not so conducive to our ears even after a year. After about three months of his stay at Kottayam, he came back for a vacation and served a couple of weeks at the Holy Madbaha of his parent parish. The way of his reading and his conduct in Holy Madbaha had a total transformation. Everything had a classic touch that he was simply superb. Naturally, members were happy at this good change and some of them asked him how he improved so much in three months. He revealed the magic: “I have been attending Karappuzha church for Holy Qurbana. One Isaac Achan is the Vicar there.” And this is the worth of Fr Isaac. He was excellent to impart training to young boys serving in the Holy Madbaha. Any boy who had a stint with Fr Isaac will vouch for this.
Such was the quality of this great man as a priest. Many of our early Church Fathers have written many papers exhorting the qualities a priest should possess. Among them, let me quote from ‘Sentences 3:42’ by Isidore of Seville: “One who has made his entry to a high position should be known to others not on his authority, but on his humility. His humility should not cause him to ignore the evil traits of others; his authority should not weigh over others to increase their load. The quality of a priest is not to become an egoist but, being systematic and prudent with their humility to be wise before all.” I am thrilled to witness here that Fr K M Isaac fulfilled what Isidore taught the generation of priests.
Let me take this opportunity to assure the bereaved family that the intercession of Achan sitting on the bosom of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will bring them lasting solace and tranquility; they can be proud that Fr Isaac was chosen by Almighty to live in their family, indeed, a great blessing for them.