Kolkata – In a surprise birthday celebration with confreres joining from neighbouring houses Fr Joseph Punchakunnel celebrated his 79th birthday in the company of his students and superiors at the Salesian provincial house Kolkata, 11th April 2015.
Kolkata Provincial Fr Nirmal Gomes while thanking Fr Puncha for his dedicated life and continued service as a religious hailed him as “the best rector” he ever had.
Fr Gomes also assured him of “the chance to be Director of Novices, if he gets well.”
Fr Puncha who returned to Kolkata province in 2012 due to ailing health received a hero’s birthday celebration with a Solemn Eucharistic celebration held at the Provincial House, Kolkata.
The veteran missionary, Fr Puncha was Rector and principal of Salesian College Sonada Darjeeling and several years Director of Novices at Siliguri before he left for South American missions – in the Bolivian mountains.
His brother, Salesian Fr Thomas Punchakunnel, also from Kolkata province, is currently missionary in East Africa for some 35 years.
Since 2011, another young missionary from Kolkata province Fr Shiju James Thottupurathu has joined Bolivia province where Fr Puncha served.