California Priest and Visiting Archbishop from India Killed in Tractor-Trailer Crash That Also Wounded Another Priest

Father Mathew Vellankal of the Diocese of Oakland, Calif., (R), and Archbishop Dominic Jala of the Archdiocese of Shillong, India and apostolic administrator of Nongstoin, India (L). | Photo: Facebook/Diocese of Oakland; Screenshot/YouTube

A California pastor and an archbishop visiting from India were killed in a crash with a tractor-trailer Thursday that also wounded another priest.

The Diocese of Oakland announced in a Facebook post Saturday that one of their pastors, Father Mathew Vellankal, was killed in the accident that occurred in Colusa County, on Oct. 11. Archbishop Dominic Jala of the Archdiocese of Shillong, India, and apostolic administrator of Nongstoin, India, was also killed.

Father Joseph Parekkatt, pastor of St. Anne Parish in Walnut Creek, was also injured in the crash but he is in stable condition at Santa Rosa Hospital in Oakland, the announcement said.

“Father Vellankal’s joyous spirit and faith will be deeply missed,” Bishop Michael C. Barber said. “May his soul and the soul of Archbishop Jala rest in the peace of Christ.”

The crash happened about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, when a Toyota Prius with the three men was hit by a tractor-trailer truck on State Route 20 near Wilbur Springs, the California Highway Patrol told NBC.

Vellankal was born in Ayavana, Kerala, India, and ordained a priest on Jan. 5, 1987, in Randar, India, as a member of the religious order Salesians of Don Bosco, the Oakland parish said. He worked in parishes and schools in India before coming to the Diocese of Oakland in 2001. His assignments included Queen of All Saints, Concord; Our Lady of Guadalupe, Fremont; Holy Spirit, Fremont; and St. Bonaventure, Concord.

In addition to his spiritual work, Vellankal was also known for his skills as a magician, which he used for parish fundraising events. His book, From Humor to Inspiration: Jokes, Reflections, and Quotes to Enliven Your Day, was published in 2005.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair