Shillong ( Meghalaya), Oct 12 : Archbishop Dominic Jala of Shillong and Father Mathew Vellankal died in a road accident in California, United States.
The accident occurred around 11 pm October 10 (10:30 am India) when the two were traveling to Clearlake in California along with Father Joseph Parekkatt, another Indian priest.
Their car collided with a semi-truck in Colussa Country, California, according to a press note from the diocese of Oakland.
Father Parekkatt, who was seriously wounded, was stable in a hospital, the press note said .
Salesian Archbishop Jala was 68.
Reports from Salesian sources in Shillong say Archbishop was going to California to meet his friend. He had gone to the US to attend a meeting of International Commission for English liturgy in New York.
Father Vellankal, 50, was the pastor of pastor of St. Isidore Parish in Danville, California, since 2016.
Archbishop Jala was born on July 12, 1951, at Mawlai in Shillong .
He was ordained a priest for the Salesians of Don Bosco on November 19, 1977. He was the provincial of the congregation’s Guwahati province before he was appointed the archbishop of Shillong on December 22, 1999. His episcopal ordination was on April 2, 2000.
Archbishop Jala is the second Indian archbishop to die in a car accident abroad.
Earlier, Archbishop Alan de Lastic of Delhi died on June 20, 2000, in a car crash in Poland.
Father Vellankal, a missionary in Oakland Diocese, was a native of Kerala, South India.
After completing the 12th grade, he joined the Salesians and was ordained a priest in January 1987.
After ordination, Father Vellankal spent three years as an associate pastor in a parish and a year as headmaster of a large school in northeastern India.
He then spent two years as the youth director for the Salesian province of Guwahati before being named principal of a school in Guwahati, the commercial capital of Assam.
After two years as principal, he became youth director for the northeastern region comprising 10 dioceses.
During this time, Rome appointed him international youth chaplain of the International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth, based in Belgium. The organization serves about 2 million youth in 65 countries.
Father Vellankal left the Salesians and joined the Oakland Diocese, according to a source in northeastern India.
Condoling the tragic demise of Rev Jala , Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said It is a sad day for our state with the sudden demise of our dear Archbishop, Dominic Jala who passed away in California. The Archbishop had a close relationship with my family and had always guided me on several issues for the interest of the people. He was a leader respected by everyone across different faiths and our loss will be felt by everyone close to him across the world. He will always be remembered for his wisdom, guidance and fellowship. May his soul rest in eternal peace.