"There are places I'll remember / All my life though some have changed. / Some…
A journey to heaven, hell, purgatory
Father Jose Maniyangat is a priest in good standing in the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida. He is an associate pastor at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Orange Park, a suburb of Jacksonville. He is the diocesan spiritual director for the Legion of Mary. And, with the blessing of Bishop Felipe Estévez, he leads a Eucharistic and charismatic healing ministry in which he leads healing missions in parishes in the United States and throughout the world.
But that isn’t all.
Father Maniyangat also says he died in a traffic accident in 1985, was taken by his guardian angel to visit heaven, hell and purgatory and came back to life to continue his ministry as a priest.
‘Out of my body’
Father Maniyangat was born in Kerala, India, in 1949, the oldest of seven children. His father was a farmer, and Malayalam was their native tongue. The family faithfully practiced the Catholic faith that St. Thomas the Apostle introduced to the country about 20 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
At age 7, on the day young Jose (the Indian pronunciation sounds like Joe’s) had his first Communion, he heard an interior voice inviting him to become a priest.
He entered the junior seminary at age 14 and was ordained a priest on New Year’s Day in 1975. Because the diocese could not afford a car for Father Maniyangat, his bishop gave him a motorcycle for his use. But on April 14, 1985, when the priest was traveling to a parish mission to celebrate Mass, he was struck head-on by a drunk driver.
He experienced great freedom being liberated from the constant needs of the body.
“I didn’t miss my body one bit,” he said. “I didn’t feel tired or get hungry or thirsty.”
He met his guardian angel upon his death, a figure that was “bright, beautiful and radiant. It was so magnificent I can’t begin to describe it.”
His angel told him that he was going to meet God, but that first he wanted to show him hell and purgatory.
Heaven and hell
Hell, he said, was a sea of “unquenchable fire,” with demons “like monsters” and lost souls that were “dirty, filthy and ugly.”
He was able to see the souls, and they saw him, but they could not communicate with one another. His angel related that they were lost due to a variety of serious sins of which they had not repented. To his astonishment, he was allowed to see the souls of some people he had once known.
There is no Church doctrine on private revelations (such as Father Maniyangat’s), meaning Catholics are free to believe or dismiss them. Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (No. 67):
Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.
Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations.
“They had seemed very holy on Earth, but it was hypocrisy. It was sad; I felt sorry for them,” he said.
Numbered among the lost souls were priests and bishops who were not faithful to their calling as shepherds.
He also noted a great deal of hatred and in-fighting that occurred between the eternally condemned.
In purgatory, Father Maniyangat had the opportunity to speak to the suffering souls. There was no fighting or quarrelling between souls as in hell, but they were sad, “stained” and anxious to go to heaven. They begged for his prayers.
In his ministry today, Father Maniyangat often stresses the need to pray for souls in purgatory.
“It is an act of fraternal charity. They are part of our family, the Mystical Body of Christ,” he said.
What goes around comes around, he added. “Once they are in heaven, they will be saints,” he said. “And they can pray for us and their prayers are powerful.”
Heaven “shined like the sun” and included millions of souls praising God. He met Christ, the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph.
“Our Lord told me that in my second life he had a great mission for me, and that I would work in a foreign land and speak a foreign tongue,” Father Maniyangat said.
Back on Earth, the priest had been pronounced dead and was being taken to the morgue.
When his soul returned to his body, he felt intense pain due to his extensive injuries. He had many broken bones, had lost much blood and screamed out in pain. The attendants were terrified.
One rushed and told the doctor, “The dead body is screaming.”
Father Maniyangat was given a blood transfusion and underwent extensive surgeries. After two months in the hospital, he was sent home in a body cast. His doctor told him he’d never walk again.
Father Maniyangat prayed to be healed and received what he described as a “miraculous cure.” His astonished Hindu doctor couldn’t believe he was able to walk again, and he subsequently converted to Catholicism.
Father Maniyangat came to the United States in 1986 and became part of the Diocese of St. Augustine in 1992. His life-after-death experience has given him a different perspective than many people — and a great desire to bring people to God.
“Death can come to us at any time,” he said. “If you were to die today, where would you go?”
On his website, this statement appears in bold above the story of his out-of-body experience:
“Neither the Diocese of St. Augustine, nor any other Catholic Church authorities have investigated, approved or in any way endorsed the factual or theological contents of the Father Jose Story.”
Some believe the story of his visit to the hereafter; others don’t.
“I told my guardian angel, ‘No one’s going to believe I saw all these things,’” Father Maniyangat said. “My angel replied, ‘Don’t worry about it. Many people refused to believe Jesus.’”
Linda Chattaway of Orange Park is a believer. She worked with Father Maniyangat as a parish secretary and now maintains his website.
“It’s a private revelation, so it’s up to you if you want to believe it or not,” she said. “I do, because I’ve seen the fruits of his ministry, both miraculous healings and, more importantly, many people coming to the Faith.”
Chattaway said Father Maniyangat was faithful to Church authorities and not only “talks the talk, but walks the walk.”
“Father tells people to pray, fast and go to confession,” she said. “He does all these things himself.”
Jennifer Carbajal of Middleburg, Florida, first began attending Father Maniyangat’s monthly healing Masses a decade ago. She, too, has witnessed conversions and healings as well as a revival of her faith.
“Before I was living my life for myself,” Carbajal told OSV. “Now, I want to live every day for Jesus.”
The humble, down-to-earth priest “gives all the glory to Jesus,” she added, “and wants to do all he can to bring people to heaven.”
Jim Graves writes from California.