Father Varkey Velickakathu Joseph, at the age of 69 and a priest for 40 years, died July 21, 2020in Neillsville.
Varkey V. Joseph was born May 4, 1951 in Elappally, Kerala, India, the son of Joseph Velickakathu Kuruvila and Rosa Velickakathu Joseph. His public grade school and high school education was in Elappally, Kerala and Moolamattom, Kerala. He joined the Society of Catholic Apostolate (Pallotine Fathers and Brothers) and took the religious name of George. He studied philosophy for two years at St. Xavier’s College in Kerala, then theology at St. Charles Borromeo Mission Seminary in Nagpur, Maharashtra. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Sebastian Vayalil on October 13, 1979 at the Church of St. George in Moolamattom, Kerala, India. He was bi-ritual with faculties to celebrate the Syro-Malabar rite.
In the early days of Father Varkey’s priesthood, he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Law Certificate from Bangalore University, taught philosophy and basic economy. He was the Pastor of two parishes in the State of Kerala and worked as a missionary for one year. He also worked with disadvantaged children for a year. In 1997 he contacted Bishop Raymond L. Burke seeking to learn about different customs and styles of pastoral approaches in the United States. With the help of Father John Parr, arrangements were made and he arrived in Chicago on January 10, 1998 and in La Crosse two days later. Father Varkey stayed with Father Edward Shuttleworth at St. Mary’s Assumption Parish in Durand and also served at Holy Rosary Parish in Lima.
On October 3, 1998, Father Varkey was assigned as the Pastor of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Spring Valley and Sacred Heart in Elmwood. He received an indult to leave the Society of Catholic Apostolate and was incardinated as a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse on April 12, 2001. On February 15, 2011, Father Varkey became the Pastor of St. Mary Parish in Neillsville. On March 1, 2012, he also became the Pastor of St. John Cantius Parish in Fairchild and St. Joseph Parish in Fairview. He was released from his responsibilities in Fairchild and Fairview on July 1, 2014 and continued to serve the faithful in Neillsville until the time of his death. On August 1, 2018, he became the dean of the Thorp Deanery.
Father Varkey was preceded in death by his parents, one sister Treessiamma Augustine and one brother Michael Joseph Velickakathu. He is survived by two sisters Achamma Mathew and Rose Joseph Velickakathu, two brothers Joseph Velickakathu and Devasia Joseph Velickakathu and many nieces and nephews.
On Sunday, July 26, 2020, the Rosary will be prayed at 4:30 p.m. Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at St. Mary Catholic Church in Neillsville, followed by Evening Prayer from the Office of the Dead at 7:30 p.m. Visitation will also be held at 10 a.m. on Monday until the time of the Mass.
On Monday, July 27, Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Mary Catholic Church in Neillsville at 11 a.m. Bishop William Patrick Callahan will be the main celebrant and Father Georgekutty Thayilkuzhithottu, MSFS will be the homilist. A graveside visitation will be held at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Elmwood from 2 to 3 p.m. followed by the Burial.
Gesche Funeral Home in Neillsville is assisting with arrangements.
Due to Covid 19 restrictions, please call 715-743-3840 to register to attend any of the services. For those unable to attend, the Mass of Christian Burial will be livestreamed. Please go to the website of Gresche Funeral Home at https://www.geschefh.com/ for the link.