Priest of Harold Hill church dies due to coronavirus
- Credit: St Thomas JSOC
The parish priest of St Thomas Jacobite Syrian Orthodox in Harold Hill has died after testing positive to coronavirus.
Fr Dr Biji Markose Chirathilattu, who was 52, had dedicated his life to tirelessly supporting others.
He died on Wednesday May 6, after falling ill the Friday before. He was admitted to Worthing Hospital just a day before he died.
Originally from Kerala, India, he worked as a hospital chaplain for Western Sussex Hospitals Trust, as well as his work at St Thomas.
A spokesman from the hospital trust said: “Fr Dr Biji worked tirelessly to meet the spiritual and religious needs of our patients, their loved ones and all of us.”
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The priest’s brother, Diji said: “Biji loved what he did and was always there to support others.
“As well as working at Worthing Hospital and in Portsmouth, Biji travelled the country to lead services for people who wanted to pray together.
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“He will be greatly missed by all those who knew him.”
Fr Dr Biji celebrated 24 years of service in July at St Thomas and he worked hard to initiate many community projects, such as recently creating free grocery kits for the community during the crisis and advising the vulnerable in Harold Hill on how to protect themselves from coronavirus.
Young people of St Thomas remember him as a “great teacher,” a “father figure,” and an “amazing human and role model, who touched the lives of every he met”.
Friend and colleague Basil John, charity co-ordinator of St Thomas said: “He was a pillar of support for the NHS team, who were giving emotional and spiritual care to people at the end of their lives in the absence of loved ones.
“He created several videos to comfort and keep frontline key workers motivated during this time of crisis.
“He never took leave as he was determined to be available for those in need.”
Church member and NHS worker, Jincy Bino Vaithara Elias said: “While we clap hands and beat pots and pans for doctors and nurses, let us not forget the hospital chaplains of all faiths.”