KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – Mother of 15 children died at the age of 94 on 14 July in her home in Kerala after an illness due to old age complications which lasted two years.
The deceased, Mrs. Elizabeth Anikuzhikattil, affectionately called Aleykutty, a devout Syro-Malabar catholic woman, gifted ten of her children to the Church. Of her eight boys, six are priests and one a bishop. Among her seven girls, four are religious, two Sacred Heart Sisters (Kerala) and one each Salesian Sister and Franciscan Missionary of Mary.
Mrs Elizabeth’s eldest child Annie is a Daughter of Mary Help of Christians serving inMysorewhile her eldest boy Mathew is bishop of Idukki.
Mrs. Anikuzhikattil will be buried at Holy Family Parish Kunchithanny, Idukki dist near Munnar, on 18 July.
Mr Luke Anikuzhikattil, her husband died in 2006.
“We migrated from Kadaplamattam parish in Palai diocese in 1949 to Idukki. Along with the first batch of agricultural migrants, my father cleared forest area and settled in Idukki. I can still remember growing up in a large tree-house,” recalls one of her sons Salesian Father Dr Jose Anikuzhikattil who was born in the Idukki forest.
Early settlers lived on tree houses to fend off attacks from wild elephants and jungle beasts, who were not pleased with human encroachers into their kingdom.
Fr Joseph Anikuzhikattil, SDB (53 years) a professor at Sacred Heart Theological College Shillong and currently Rector of Don Bosco College Azara, Guwahati has a PhD degree in Missiology from Gregorian University in Rome.
“My mother lived a very successful life bringing up 15 children in the frontier days of Idukki settlement, says Prof. Jose.
“Our youngest brother Savio was attacked by Gillen Barry syndrome at the age of 19 and was bed ridden for 15 years. My mother looked after him single handedly for 15 years without even a single bed sore on him,” recalls Fr Jose.
Guillain-Barre syndrome is a serious disorder that occurs when the body’s defense (immune) system mistakenly attacks part of the nervous system. This leads to nerve inflammation that causes muscle weakness.
“We mourn the death of a holy mother,” SMSed Fr Augustine Kootala a priest friend of Fr Jose who knew her.
Youngest priest son, a Missionary Society of St. Thomas the Apostle (M.S.T.) who was the first parish priest of Syro-Malabar Kalayan diocese at Pune in 1990 died in 1992. He was returning on his motor cycle after catechism class in a village when he was run over by truck and killed instantly,” says Fr Jose during a stop over to catch a flight from Kolkata toKochi.
“Don Bosco’s promise of heaven for her is surely fulfilled,” SMSed Archbishop Dominic Jala of Shillong.
“A priest is the greatest blessing to a family and all who offer their sons to the church will be blessed for many generations. They are assured of heaven,” said Don Bosco.
Dr. Syvanus Sngi Lyngdoh, a 90 year old Salesian priest patriarch in Khasi Hills now living in Guwahati and compiling a 60 volume Bible commentary in Khasi language is of the opinion that “parents who bring up more than five children as God loving people and honest citizens are sure to go to heaven.”