A parish priest was found dead in a well on Monday in Ayarkkunnam of Kottayam district in Kerala. Father George Ettuparayil, 55, was the parish priest at Punnathura St Joseph's church. He was found dead in the well of the same church compound around 8.30 am on Monday.
Father George had been missing since Sunday. He had taken over charge as vicar of the church a year ago.
When the police tried to check for CCTV visuals, they found that the CCTV cameras had been switched off.
As per reports, the priest had sought a transfer from the parish and for that, he asked for an appointment with the Bishop and was scheduled to meet him on Sunday. However, the priest never met the Bishop.
According to the parish members, there had been some issues after authorities took away a century-old idol of crucified Christ from the church. Since then, the parish had not been cooperating with the activities of the church and the priest was also struggling to manage the financial liabilities of the parish.
According to media reports, this was the reason that Father George had applied for a transfer. The priest who was appointed as the vicar before Fr George had also similarly demanded a transfer within eight months of his tenure, which is an unusual case in Syro-Malabar churches. Some of the local residents told the media that Fr George was facing mental health issues.
However, church authorities told the media that there were no issues over the idol. They said that the priest had been ‘disturbed’ ever since a fire broke out at the church in March this year. In the fire, four people were severely injured and they said that the priest was depressed over the incident.
Earlier, Fr George served as a priest in San Francisco, under Syro Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago.
Sources from the police have said that they will be registering a case under unnatural death and further details will be known only after an investigation.
The priest’s body has been retrieved from the well and by Monday afternoon, post mortem procedures are likely to begin.
Earlier, in the first week of May, a 21-year-old nun was found dead in a well located near her convent in Thiruvalla of Pathanamthitta district.