It was on July 3rd, 2012 the last time I had a chance to meet with our beloved Thirumeni at his residence in Pampady Dayara. He was very excited and energetic and eager to learn about the progress of his former diocese which he divided and gave to two of his successors.
Mar Barnabas was a simple and humble bishop as someone opined a ‘golden bishop with a wooden stick”. I emphasis on the word, “golden” because he was of 24carart, which is flexible, no copper added to strengthen it. This original nature had its limits. He was excited to learn about the Educational Scholarship established in his name in the South West America diocese. Immediately he dictated a kalpana to the diocese complimenting them. It was a fulfilling moment for me.
It was his humble nature and commitment to ministry that made me to choose Idukki diocese for my parish ministry upon my ordination prior to migrating to the United States. ( I was trained and ordained for the outside Kerala diocese by the one and only Outside Kerala diocesan metropolitan, HG Mathews Mar Athanasius). I loved him and cared for him just like any responsible children who had no eyes on paternal inheritance. It was true that, we had disagreements. They are all part of healthy paternal reactions or parent child conflicts. Outsider may try to take advantage of it, it is universal truth and it happened here too.
It was on March 22, 1992 His Grace arrived in the US to take responsibility of the American diocese. It was not an easy ride in the early years. When his living arrangement was in a quandary, it was Mr. K. M. Jacob and family who came forward and took care of him just like a father. Mr. Jacob was not in any way involved in the diocesan administration.
It was during his term that our diocese took membership in the National Council of Churches in the USA, which a dream for me since 1983. The diocese went through the storms in 1995-96, but he kept his calm. The church created another diocese- Canada and Europe. I was there with him all these difficult years and during fire test of September 6, 1996. He came out humbled and victorious.
Mar Barnabas was a great, I say it again, simple person. He considers himself as a father to all and expected full obedience from all. It was his honest and short tempered. A short living short temper, easily ignited easily extinguished. I was fascinated by his generosity, always gave his share for any new church buildings in his diocese. I do recall his donation of $5000.00 to Orlando church when I was serving there for a short period of time. He never bothered about his survival or was never overly concerned about money. God gave him lavishly and he distributed it lavishly. It was his transparency in money matters that helped the small diocese to secure a great place for itself. His financial dealings are great model for all our hierarchy. It was said that he authored 25 books, but his whole life was a book if we could read it right. May God grant him eternal life.
Fr.Dr. Joy Pyngolil
Diocesan Secretary, Southwest America