Local Religious life

KU Med Center chaplain Father Kuttukaran dies

Father Rafi Kuttukaran was known as a dedicated and faithful priest who gave comfort to the sick and consolation to those who mourned. He passed away unexpectedly on Aug. 10.

by Joe Bollig

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — In his work as a chaplain at the University of Kansas Medical Center here, Father Rafi Kuttukaran was known as a dedicated and faithful priest who gave comfort to the sick and consolation to those who mourned.

He was also known as an avid gardener, and it was while working in his garden at home that Father Kuttukaran, 58, unexpectedly died on Aug. 10.

Father Kuttukaran was born on Oct. 6, 1960, in the town of Thrissur, in the state of Kerala, located on the west side of the southern tip of India. He was the fifth of eight children of Lonappan Kuttukaran and Rosy Thekkekara.

He was ordained a priest on Dec. 30, 1992, for the Diocese of Imphal, located in the state of Manipur in far northeastern India. After ordination, he held pastoral assignments (including Sacred Heart Church in K. Chanshil) and served as his bishop’s secretary.

Priests in that region of India were sometimes targeted for kidnapping and extortion, or simply murdered. Father Kuttukaran was himself kidnapped once and injured, but he escaped and returned to the state of Kerala. 

Afterward, he went to the United States and served in various capacities and locations at parishes, as a contract chaplain for the U.S. military, and as a hospital chaplain beginning in 2005. Eventually, he became a U.S. citizen.

While at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Father Kuttukaran was known for his deep Marian devotion and his dedication in ministering to patients, their families, visitors and the staff. It was said that he considered the medical center to be “his parish” and those there as “family.” 

Also, it was his delight to celebrate holidays with patients who were unable to go home.

A funeral Mass was celebrated for Father Kuttukaran on Aug. 20 at Holy Name Parish in Kansas City, Kansas. The main celebrant was Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and the homilist was Father Jomon Palatty, pastor of Annunciation Parish in Baldwin and St. Francis Parish in Lapeer. The family requested no flowers but suggested contributions to Holy Name Parish.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

Leave a Comment


  • Father Raffi was a blessing for all of us who attended mass daily, celebrated by him at West Kendal Baptist Hospital in Miami, for several years. He was a very dedicated priest whose devotion to the Virgen Mary and to the Holly Eucharist was evident in every mass he celebrated. Adoration and mass with father Raffi was a little heaven with praise and songs we all enjoyed in “our little parish” as we used to call it. God have him in his presence for him to praise and adore Him eternally, as he did on earth. God bless you, Father Raffi, we miss you and thank God for having you as our priest at West Kendal Baptist hospital. You were a blessing in our lives.
    God bless you!!!!!

  • Father Rafi was a great pastor in West Kendall Baptist Hospital in Miami. He celebrated mass and an hour adoration in the chapel. Very espiritual and devotional priest. We enjoy time with him in the garden of his house in Miami. We pray for him and his soul. Dear father Rafi Rest In Peace in God’s hands.

  • Dear all,
    Please.pray For fr. Rafi kuttukaran soul to rest in. Peace he was always a priest who dedicated his life. For christ and the church . I know him. From. Small he is my cousin brother his mother and dad are brothers and sister I cannot move my eyes because he looks exactly like or photocopy of my dad . He is such nice person.. We all. Miss him
    Paulson thekkekara.

  • There was a group of Catholic Dr.s, nurses, and other KUMC employees that regularly attended Fathers daily mass. It was so reverent,holy, and engaging. We loved Fathers homily. He was such a joy filled, loving, and merciful priest.
    We miss him so much and continue to say the rosary in the Bell chapel in his honor and his dedication to our Holy Mother. I feel so lucky and blessed to have known him.