The Syro-Malankara Catholic bishop in India who served the poor on the streets of his eparchy since the start of the coronavirus outbreak has died, four months on from his admission to the hospital, at the age of 60.
Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas Aerath, O.I.C, of the Eparchy of St. John Chrysostom of Gurgaon, contracted COVID-19 earlier this year. He was brought to Holy Family Hospital in New Delhi on 16 April and was put immediately on a ventilator. He was transferred to Fortis Hospital in Delhi the first week of August for more intensive treatment. He died in the hospital on 26 August.
“It is a great loss for the Malankara Catholic Church in India,” said M.L. Thomas, director of CNEWA India. “He was one of our loving companions in our mission. I am specially moved in my heart, as I traveled and spent lots of time with him in most of our project locations in North India and I found him to be a real missionary.”
Mr. Thomas said daily text message updates earlier this week on the status of the bishop’s health indicated his vitals seemed stable with medication, but that his liver was weak and he continued to require ventilator support and dialysis.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in India in March 2020, Mar Barnabas had led the distribution of food and hygiene kits among the poor affected by COVID-19, said Mr. Thomas, who remarked on the bishop’s “humanly nature, love for the poor and for the mission of the church.”
He recalled a conversation with Mar Barnabas, who visited the CNEWA team near the city of Ernakulam in the southwestern state of Kerala, seeking support for those affected by the virus.
“This is my God-given duty — that I radiate the love of the Lord to these people,” the bishop told Mr. Thomas. “God has called me to give his love and care because I see nobody out there to help them. So, how can I sit at home?”
CNEWA responded, rushing him the resources he needed to care for those who needed the help the most.
Mar Barnabas was born on 3 December 1960. He was ordained a priest on 2 October 1986 and a bishop on 10 March 2007. He was enthroned as the bishop of Gurgaon on 1 May 2015.
Our condolences to those who knew and loved Mar Barnabas. May God grant to Mar Barnabas eternal memory and blessed repose.