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MMB Assissi Provincial, Bhopal



All those who knew Msgr. Vazhapilly would tell without any hesitation that he was a holy person destined to do great things.  His services were spread out in religious, social, political and trade union fields. Further, he dared to found a Congregation: The Malabar Missionary Brothers.

“Zachariasachan’- as he was fondly called- was born in Vazhapilly family of Puthenvelikkara parish which then belonged to Thrissur dioceses. After High School and Minor Seminary studies, he was sent to Papal Seminary at Kandy in Sri Lanka. He was ordained priest on August 24, 1940. It was after procuring Doctorate in Theology that he returned of Kerala in 1942. He was asst. Parish priest at Palayoor and Pavarty for some times. In 1943 he was appointed Rector of the Diocesan Minor Seminary which was remaining closed for a few years.

Msgr. Zacharias, Vazhapilly founded the Congregation of the Malabar Missionary Brothers on May 16, 1948- the feast of Pentecost. What inspired Msgr. Zacharias to found this Congregation was the intense desire he had to evangelize the world, which he derived from the example of St. Thomas, the apostle, who brought to India the message of the Gospel. He built the mother- house of MMB at Mariapuram and the task of giving formation to the Brothers was entrusted to Fr. Martin Malekudiyil OFM Cap. During these years he was the diocesan director of Catechism and Marian Sodalities.  With a view of spreading Marian devotion and coordinating Marian Sodalities, he started “Maryvijayam” magazine in November 1950.

In order to block the increasing spread of communism in Kerala, Fr. Vazhapilly founded the Anti-communist Front (ACF) in early 1950s in collaboration with Fr. Vadakken. For this purpose, he started a Weekly by name “Thozhilali” which in 1954 become a Daily Newspaper. Under the banner of ACF, he organized 40 trade unions for different section of employees.

In 1955 the territory of Thrissur diocese was extended by Rome covering a vast area of Coimbatore diocese. Bishop Mar. George Alappattu appointed Fr. Zacharias the Charge de Affairs of this extended region. Then he was forced to put aside his Trissur- centered activities and move to the new pastures. As a result of masterly planning and hard work, in collaboration with a few priests and MMB Brothers, Fr. Zacharias could shape the foundation of Palakkad diocese with in few years.

Kerala came under Marxist rule in 1957; a period of terror and anxiety. This unrest led to the famous Liberation Struggle of 1959 by which EMS ministry was dismissed by the Central Govt. Together with Fr. Vadakken, Fr. Vazhapilly was in the forefront of this historic event. From 1960 to 1963 he did pastoral ministry in the Forane Churches of Kandasankadavu and Pudukad. On April 1963 he was appointed Acting Vicar General of the diocese and on September 11, 1963 full responsibility of the Vicar General was given to him. The ten years of his ministry was a period of overall development and reformation in the then largest dioceses of Kerala.

On the retirement of Mar George Alappatt, Mar Joseph Kundukulam become the Bishop in august 1970. Msgr. Vazhappilly continued as Vicar General up to his new assignment as the rector of Apostolic Seminary, Kottayam. All those connected with the seminary would ever admit that the nine years of Msgr. Vazhappilly’s rector ship was the golden days of the grant institute.

By the end of 1982 Msgr. Vazhapilly was partially paralyzed. On returning to his own diocese of Irinjalakuda, he was appointed Rector of the new Spirituality Centre. In June 1983 he was made Spiritual Father at the Minor Seminary. His health was gradually declining. It was doubtful whether he would live up to the end of his Sacerdotal Golden Jubilee year. So the same was celebrated in August 1989.

Fr. Zacharias has very peaceful death on 1st December, 1989. His holy remains are laid in the chapel of House of Providence, Irinjalakuda, the first House of Malabar Missionary Brothers. The funeral procession from the Spirituality Centre to House of Providence had the glamour of a victorious celebration, crowded with Priests, Brothers, Sisters and Laity along with some Archbishops and Bishops. While returning after the function, everybody seemed to murmur: We have lost a saint, we have got a saint. Everyday numerous devotees come to his tomb to pray and many favours are received.