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Priest who inspired Dalit movements in southern India dies

Father P Antonisamy, who was an inspiration to scores of Dalit priests, religious, and lay faithful in India, died on September 6 in Pondicherry. He was 82.

The funeral Mass was scheduled for 4 p.m. on September 6 at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Pondicherry.

He was a resident of Emmaus house in Pondicherry, a house of the retired clergy of the Archdiocese, for the past five years.

Father Antonisamy “was my inspiration and guide,” said Father Devasagaya Raj of the Pondicherry archdiocese, who is former secretary of the Office of Scheduled Caste under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

“As the first parish priest of Kanakkankuppan, my home parish, he made an indelible mark in my life as a Dalit activist,” said the priest.

Born on March 29, March 1940, in Thurijipundi, a village some 165 km south of Chennai, capital of Tamil Nadu state. He studied at St. Anne’s School Dindivanam and did clerical studies at St. Peter’s seminary Bangaluru.

Ordained priest in 1967, Father Antonisamy worked as a parish priest in eight parishes and administered as manager and secretary of the education and SC/ST commissions and vicar-general of the Archdiocese.

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