Wisdom, the firmness of love
Integrity, the revolution of silence
Dr. Fr. Cyprian Illickamury (88), thanks to whose tireless effort the names of ever great theologians like Karl Rahner, Walter Kasper, and J. B. Metz became household names, went back to the eternal abode on 15 March 2019. His death brought to an end a life that was lived with unflagging zeal for Christ and a never compromising commitment to theological pursuit.
Fr. Cyprian, who was born on 27 November 1930, joined the Capuchins at the age of twenty, and received ministerial priesthood on 22 March 1958. After a few years of teaching experience he was sent to do higher studies in Systematic Theology in Muenster University. The academic ambience fostered in that illustrious university, especially with the presence of theological stalwarts like Karl Rahner and Walter Kasper, left on him a deep impression that enabled him to carry forward until his last breath theological investigation with scientific rigor.
The academic work carried out by Fr. Cyprian day in, day out gave to the world over twenty-five books, both in Malayalam and English, and numerous articles in Malayalam, English, and German. The most popular among all his works is “Samsayikkunna Thoma,” a monthly series in Assisi Magazine that ran for decades democratizing theology that remained confined to seminaries and elitist circles. Man and woman, young and old, rich and poor kept sending him queries and he kept responding to them thus bringing to their doorsteps frontier theological discussions and positions. His absolute dedication to theological investigations made him the first Rector of Capuchin Vidyabhavan, Thellakom, and ever since he continued to teach until his health failed him. He rendered his dedicated service to the students of Capuchin Vidyabhavan for 33 years.
The theological rigor of Fr. Cyprian was equally matched with his remarkable personal holiness. His spotless faithfulness to prayer and his compassionate outlook towards life endeared him to all who came in contact with him. An instance in his life will illustrate it better. Once he was concelebrating mass, and all of a sudden he fell unconscious on the floor with a thud. The first he asked for the moment he came to his senses was Holy Communion. The two strange bedfellows, child-like faith and theological inquisitiveness, were perfectly blended in him.
Asked about what kept him moving in life Fr. Cyprian said once, “I should be ready to return the day my Lord calls me back.” A lifetime was spent preparing for responding to the final call he would receive from his God. When he finally got the call he said yes cheerfully and with a deep sense of contentment. And now Fr. Cyprian is in the bosom of his God with that innocent smile that was always on his face. His mortal remains were laid to rest at Capuchin Vidyabhavan in the presence of a large number of friars, his relatives and friends on 19 March 2019.