Pala, 27 May 2015: Peter Celestine Elampassery OFM cap. Bishop Emeritus of Jammu-Srinagar diocese passed away on Wednesday 27 May 2015 at 4.30am at Assisi Ashram, Bharananganam, Pala, Kerala after prolonged illness and massive heart attack. He was 77. The funeral will be at Assisi Ashram Bharananganam on Saturday 30 May 2015 at 10. am.
Bishop Peter Celestine was born on 28 June 1938, at Muttuchira, Kottayam district, Kerala. He was ordained Priest of Order of Friars Minor Capuchin on 3 October 1966. His Excellency, Bishop Peter Celestine, OFM Cap. who succeeded Bishop Hippolytus Kunnunkal, OFM Cap., was ordained Bishop on 6th September, 1998, and assumed charge of the Diocese of Jammu-Srinagar on the same day. On 3 December 2014 His Holiness Pope Francis accepted the resignation of. Peter Celestine Elampassery, OFM Cap., from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Jammu-Srinagar, according to Canon Law 401 § 1.
The Diocese of Jammu-Srinagar, the northernmost Diocese of India, though area wise the largest Diocese in India, has a tiny population of 17 thousand Catholics, against 9 million people, spread over 222236 square kilometers in the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir. Frequently tormented by terrorism, fundamentalism and political militancy, the State of Jammu and Kashmir, by and large, lack the peace and other favourable conditions for growth and development in all aspects, both spiritual as well as temporal. In spite of all these obstacles and hurdles, the Diocese of Jammu-Srinagar, under the leadership and guidance of Bishop Peter Celestine, continued its service in pastoral ministry, social work, ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and, above all, education. Several schools were opened in villages and the students were formed to cultivate good relationship with others and thus promote respect for the dignity of human persons, beyond the barriers of caste and religion.
Bishop Peter Celestine, throughout his active ministry, promoted dialogue with other community leaders and constantly kept up good relationship with the leaders of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists Communities. Bishop Peter Celestine carried out his pastoral duties with great zeal and relentlessly promoted peace and dialogue with other religious communities throughout his episcopal ministry, except for the last few years, when he was seriously impeded by ill-health. He served the diocese as its shepherd for 16 years.