Fr Varghese Paul, a Jesuit priest of Indian origin, to his great surprise received “Star of Asia
Award” from International Business Council (IBC), New Delhi. He got the Award via mail on his return from Philippines on November 3, 2016. He attended at Tagaytay City the World Congress of International Christian Organization of the Media (ICOM). On the occasion he also
visited New Zealand.
The Award says, “Certificate of Outstanding Achievements STAR OF ASIA AWARD presented to FR. VARGHESE PAUL, SJ Director-Trustee, Catholic Information Service Society, Ahmedabad, Gujarat at New Delhi on 30th September, 2016”.
Earlier Fr Varghese had received a letter from the IBC dated August 16, 2016 saying, “We have the pleasure in informing you that your name has been selected for the presentation of ‘STAR OF ASIA AWARD’ and a ‘CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE’ for your outstanding achievements. The Award will be presented to you on 30th September, 2016 in New Delhi at a largely attended prestigious ceremony.”
In reply Fr Varghese had written to IBC saying, “I do not know on what basis you have selected me. I am not a business person and as such I am not qualified to become a member of International Business
Council”. Since he neither received a reply nor he expected to get the Award. So he did not go to New Delhi for the Award Function.
IBC Web site says, “International Business Council, a Non-Profit Foundation registered body of People of Indian Origin, was founded with the aim of providing a platform for the Indians living in India
and abroad. The Foundation highlights the achievements of National & International in their chosen field of activities.”
Fr. Varghese Paul’s extensive travels in India and abroad (34 countries) for studies and attending international seminars and presenting papers in World Congresses; his contributions to Gujarati and English periodicals as well as his books (43 in Gujarati, 4 in English, 3 in Malayalam and 1 in Hindi) and his three popular web sites; regular face book contributions are counted among his outstanding achievements.
Rev. Paul has been the director of Catholic Information Service Society (CISS), which is a diocesan print media communication center in the diocese of Ahmedabad in India since its beginning in 1984.
He was born on May 31, 1943 at Ennalloor in Ernakulam district, Kerala as the eldest son with four sisters and four brothers. After completing High School, he joined the Jesuits Society. He completed two years of Novitiate and spent one year each to study English and Gujarati. Then he joined St. Xavier’s College at Ahmedabad and graduated from Gujarat University with Gujarati and Sanskrit literature in 1968.
He completed his post graduate studies in philosophy at Pune and Theology at Gregorian University, Rome and journalism in London School of Journalism in London. He was ordained a priest in Rome on June 21, 1977 was in the US with further studies in writing and editing.
On returning to Gujarat, he edited DOOT for two years from January 1978. “Then I took up a very challenging job as Founder-Director of South Asian Religious News (SAR News) a Church news agency under the aegis of Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) and the South Asian Catholic Press Association (SACPA) for four years,” says the writer/editor.
As the Editor-in-Chief of SAR News, he got exposed to the International Catholic Union of the Press (UCIP). He attended first time the 13th UCIP World Congress in September 1980 at Rome and was elected a member of the International Federation of News Agencies (FIAC) and consequently a member of UCIP Council.
When he returned to Gujarat, he was appointed editor of DOOT for a third time from January 1984. In 1984 he also launched Catholic Information Service Society (CISS) as its Founder-Director under Ahmedabad Diocese with Bishop Charles Gomes, S.J. as its President. As an Executive Body member of ICPA, he helped to organize the first UCIP World Congress at New Delhi in 1986. In the Congress he was elected as the President of South Asian Catholic Press Association (SACPA) and consequently he became a board member of UCIP with six monthly meeting in Switzerland or elsewhere for 3 years.
“With knowledge and expertise gained through SAR News and UCIP with interacting with print media personnel around the world I went to make DOOT a modern popular monthly without deviating from the goal of DOOT as a religious magazine for the formation of the Christian community,” recalls, Rev. Paul.
After doubling the DOOT circulation in two years in January 1987 he was instrumental in changing the format of DOOT from a book-size periodical to a standard magazine size monthly and increased the pages. “Reaching 5000 plus paid subscribers among a Catholic population of two lakh target audience DOOT had the highest circulation for any Church periodical in India with one copy for every 40 Catholic Christians or 20 literate Catholics,” Rev. Paul says proudly.
Traveling to and spending 10 days in New Delhi every month from 1994, he had set up the ACECI National Office in New Delhi. The then Pro Nuncio to India H. E. Archbishop George Zur inaugurated the office on September 11, 1994. He had served as the Executive Secretary of the ACECI National Office until 2002. Presently Rev Paul is the President of ACECI.
Gujarati Lakhak Mandal (GLM – Gujarati Writers Association) has unanimously elected Fr. Varghese Paul as its Chairman in the board meeting in July 19, 2013. Fr. Varghese succeeded an eminent journalist and author of more than 400 books, Yashwant Mehta who was the Chairman GLM for 12 years. Varghese was Vice President of GLM for two terms from 2007. He joined GLM in 2004. He continues to be in the editorial team of GLM quarterly publication: “Lekhak and Lekhan”.
“My jobs and responsibilities in mass media helped me to cultivate and enjoy my hobbies of reading, writing and traveling,” says Rev. Paul, “I have I had the opportunities to study 10 languages and have traveled far and wide in India and abroad for my studies or for participating or conducting seminars and workshops and also for attending World Congresses and Council Meetings of UCIP. So far I have visited 34 countries in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa. I believe that my writings have been enriched by these traveling and world-wide contacts.”