A Salesian Specialized in Martial Arts

Fr. Pottukalam Mathew died SDB at 11 pm on14 June 2022, after a prolonged illness and medical treatment in Shristi Hospital, Dibrugarh, Assam. He was 66 years of age. He was a diabetic patient on dialysis for around three years, had some heart problems and post – Covid complications. On 31 May his health deteriorated and he was put on ventilator for some time. He was given absolution, anointing of the sick and blessing of Mary Help of Christians.

Pottukalam Mathew was born at Changanachery, Kerala on 24 may 1956. He leaves behind three brothers and six sisters.

He had his novitiate formation in Yercaud where he professed on 24 May 1976. He studied theology in Sacred Heart Theological College, Shillong. He was ordained priest on 27 December 1984.

As a Salesian priest he worked in many places: Asst. Headmaster and Administrator in Don Bosco Dibrugarh; Asst. Parish Priest of Mao (Manipur); Asst. Parish Priest and Vice Rector in Doom Dooma; Warden of Ravalico Hostel in Chingmeirong-Imphal; Asst. Headmaster in Don Bosco School, Chingmeirong-Imphal; Head Master, Counselor and Asst. Parish Priest of Harmutty; Headmaster, Counselor and Asst. Parish Priest of Senapati (Manipur); Headmaster and Asst. Parish Priest of Senapati; Headmaster and Asst. Parish Priest in Margherita; Headmaster, Counselor of Don Bosco Kheti; Asst. Parish Priest and Administrator of Mon; Asst. Headmaster and later Headmaster of Tuli; Administrator and Vice Principal of Don Bosco School Kohima; Director of Youth Centre Kohima; Administrator and Vice Rector of Salesian College Dimapur; Asst. Parish Priest and In-charge of Junior School in Tinsukia; from 2020 till death he was in Don Bosco Dibrugarh for medical treatment and rest.

He had the unique distinction of being good in martial arts (Karate), trained specially under Geeta Raj as a student of theology in Shillong. When asked why, he used to say he wanted to train youth in martial arts. Perhaps he was inspired by John Paul II who used to say that God creates billions of people none of whom are carbon copies of others (cfr. the late Pope’s book The Acting Person). He appreciated and zealously cultivated God’s special gift to him. The Province of Dimapur has lost a precious member in the person of Fr. Pottukalam Mathew, already third Salesian in 2022. May his soul enjoy eternal rest in heaven.

Provincial’s Message for the Month of February

My dear confreres,
With the availability of vaccines that are expected to work against the coronavirus, hopes are soaring high that the global pandemic can be contained. If the vaccines are efficacious, it could mean a return to normalcy before the end of this year. Though the vaccines have indeed been developed in record time, there is a lingering fear whether there will be the same urgency to distribute them fairly. Many are also asking whether the poorest and most vulnerable countries will get the vaccines before the pandemic takes its toll of more human lives. Another question that worries the world is the appearance of new Covid-19 variants, and whether the new vaccines will be effective against them or not. So, on the one hand, we have reasons to hope for a world free of the pandemic, on the other hand, there are new fears and anxieties. Nevertheless, we continue with our prayer to God for health and healing and protection from the pandemic.
In this third year of the preparation for the centenary of the arrival of the Salesians in Northeast India, we reflect on Salesian spirituality. In this circular letter, I would like to share with you some reflections on the need to cultivate union with God, which is one of the central theological principles of Salesian spirituality.
The human need for union with God is one of the most infrequently dealt with topics today among the clergy, religious and Christians in general. It is rarely dealt with in books, sermons, conferences and podcasts in the Christian world, and if anyone attempts to introduce it, it is dismissed as outdated and irrelevant. This is mainly due to our lack of interest in spirituality and things religious, and owing to the invasion of our minds with secular ideas and excessive preoccupation with material things. And yet union with God is the most profound relationship and the most satisfying spiritual experience we can ever have in our life. In reality, union with God is a relationship that we already have: God has never left us. He is deep within us. It is ‘in him that we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17, 28). But this truth is something that we need to discover for ourselves through personal experience and with the help of divine grace.

4 Week Advent: Wednesday 23 December 2020

Readings: Mi 3:1-4, 23-24; Ps. 24; Lk. 1:57-66

            We are on the cusp of concluding the beautiful season of advent and of celebrating the joyful birth of our Saviour, Jesus. On this penultimate day of advent, God promises through prophet Malachi that He will send His messenger, prophet Elijah, to prepare the way before Him. While, the Gospel passage of today presents the joyful occasion of the birth of John the Baptist, the customary circumcision and the naming ceremony, and the miraculous recovering of the voice of Zachariah.

            An unknown author narrates of an atheist who wanted to prove to his Christian friends that God does not exist by challenging: “If there is a God, let him prove himself by striking me dead right now.” He pauses for a moment, but nothing happened, and therefore he said: “You see, there is no God.” However, someone in the crowd responded, “No sir, you’ve only proved that God is gracious.”

            Yes, “God or Yahweh is gracious” is the meaning of the name ‘John’ (Yohanan or Yohohanan in Hebrew), the name which John the Baptist received from his parents Zachariah and Elizabeth as instructed by the angel Gabriel. This name suits perfectly to John the Baptist because God was very gracious towards this blessed couple by granting them a child in their old age, more so to a woman who was considered to be barren. At the same time, the name itself lays out the project of his life, that is, to proclaim that God has been very gracious towards his people throughout the history, especially in sending His only begotten Son Jesus to save all humankind. This meant for John that he has to prepare and guide people to Jesus as part of his tasks. Thus, John fulfilled the role of the messenger promised by God in the first reading. He is the one who came before our Saviour and prepared the way for His coming. In fact, the angel Gabriel foretells Zachariah that John will be filled by the power and spirit of Elijah (cf. Lk. 1:17), and Jesus Himself testifies that John is Elijah, the promised messenger (cf. Mt. 11:14).

            So, what does this episode teaches us? It reminds us that our God is ever gracious and that Christmas is especially a gracious moment for which we must be prepared and not allow to pass by without receiving God’s grace. It also reminds us to have full faith in God’s plan for our life and not doubt like Zachariah for our God is gracious, and all things are possible for our God. Thus, as we help the faithful to prepare for the meaningful celebration of Christmas, let us not forget to spend some time personally examining what else more must I do to receive the graces that the Christmas bring. I take this opportunity to wish you all a gracious, peaceful and happy Christmas!

(By Fr. John Paul Vemo SDB, from Rome)

4 Week Advent: Monday 21 December 2020

Reading 1: Song of Songs 2:8-14

The book of Song of Songs explains to us a person’s intimacy with her lover. Her lover asks her to speak. The winter is past, the rains are over, the flowers appear on earth, vines are pruned, the song of the dove is heard and the fig tree puts forth its figs. Likewise, her lover calls her to come over to him. He wants to hear her voice, for she is lovely.

Gospel: Lk 1:39-45

Mary went in haste to meet her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant. The infant in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy at Mary’s greetings. Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” She affirmed that Mary was a blessed person because she believed that everything would be fulfilled as was spoken to her.


We could perhaps imagine some reasons why Mary made haste to meet Elizabeth. We could list out a few of them.

•             Mary wanted to share with Elizabeth the joy of the message that she received from the Angel.

•             Mary was happy to be the mother of God and therefore, she wanted to share that with Elizabeth.

•             Mary was confused with the Angel’s vision to her. She wanted to share that with Elizabeth.

•             Mary wanted to confirm whether Elizabeth was really pregnant.

•             Mary wanted to escape the possible humiliation that she will be considered as an unwed mother.

But, as we read through today’s Gospel passage, we understand from Elizabeth’s words that Mary was filled with the Holy Spirit. She indeed was thrilled at the God-experience that she had. Mary truly believed that whatever the Angel had told her would truly happen to her. She was filled with faith. Now, we also need to ask ourselves certain questions:

•             Is God asking anything from us, like the way he asked Mary?

•             Mary’s ‘yes’ made Christmas possible. What do we need to do so that Christmas will be possible for us too?

•             Mary made haste to meet Elizabeth to share her joy. What are we making haste for? Is it communicate joy or to kill joy?

•             The first Christmas was possible through tough decisions. Does our Christmas involve any tough decision making?

God blesses you

(By S. Peter)

Provincial Message for October

My dear confreres,

With October we enter into a month which is entirely dedicated to the Holy Rosary. The recitation of the joyful, sorrowful, glorious and luminous mysteries of the Holy Rosary reminds us of the mysteries of Christ’s life. It is said that there is no other extra-liturgical devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as widespread among the Catholics as the recitation of the Holy Rosary. In many places, the Rosary is the most favourite Catholic family prayer recited together by children, parents and grandparents. On 7 October the Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Rosary which is the memory of the glorious victory of the Christian forces in the battle of Lepanto, and the military victory was attributed to the great power of the Holy Rosary. I wish every community a fruitful celebration of the month of the Holy Rosary.

PC 13 2019 kicks starts in DBPH, Dimapur

5th May 2019

Provincial chapter 2019 kicks starts at DBPH, Dimapur. It is 13th of its kind. It is scheduled to last up to 10th may 2019. It has over 100 delegates. It started with the Keynote address from Rev. Fr. M.C.George sdb, the former chief Executive of BOSCONET.