It is with great sadness that the Society of Paul announces the death, on Sunday 3 June, of Fr Sebastian Karamvelil, aged 73.
Born in Kerala, India on 19 March 1939, Sebastian entered the Society of St Paul on 27 June 1957 and took final vows on 8 September 1967. He was ordained a priest on 30 June 1970. After further study at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome he engaged upon a life time of commitment and service to the work of the Society of St Paul, inspired to a great degree by his personal encounter with its Founder, Blessed James Alberione.
Working in all aspects of the Apostolate, Sebastian spent time in the Philippines, Bombay, Kochi (where he contributed to the first translation of the Bible into Malayalam), Oman and Milan. In 1987 he was transferred to the community in England, which then resided in Slough, Berkshire, later moving to its present location in Battersea, London. Over the past 25 years, Sebastian used his incredible wealth of knowledge and experience to build up the work and reputation of the Society throughout England and Ireland. Initially he worked in St Pauls Publications until, in 1992, at the invitation of the late Cardinal Basil Hume, the opportunity arose to open a bookshop next to Westminster Cathedral. The success of this project led to him being invited to establish shops by Leeds Cathedral, Hinsley Hall, Birmingham and York.
A man totally committed to the work of spreading the Gospel by using the various media, Sebastian was a much-respected priest, businessman and friend. At times, his professional approach to business gave the impression of a man more concerned with financial gain than evangelisation. However, for those who had the privilege of working very closely with him, and learning from his wisdom and experience, it was abundantly evident that, for him, the work of the Society could only be successful when approached in this way. The world of Christian publishing and retail will be much the poorer without him. Although a somewhat reserved and shy man in social gatherings, Sebastian's incredible sense of humour and enjoyment of life were evident to those to whom he was willing to come close.
May the Lord, who he laboured tirelessly to serve in this life, grant him the joy and peace of the resurrection life available to us all. Please pray for him and for his family, the members of the Pauline family and employees of St Pauls and his many friends as we mourn his passing.
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