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Letter to the person with a Difference!
Greetings from your Girish Bapu as you usually used to call me whenever we met.
This morning as usual after breakfast when I checked my emails there I was shocked to read about your sudden departure. I knew you were sick and you were under treatment at Our Lady of Pilar Hospital, Baroda. But, I never thought that you would depart from all of us so soon. For, I found you always energetic and enthusiastic about the happenings of our province and its development. Well, finally you have taught me to accept things as they are and to welcome things joyfully as it comes. Well, you have gracefully welcomed the call of God today (13.9.2014) at 00.30 am. When all were in deep sleep at mid-night you seemed to have had conversation with the Lord and finally you could surrender totally by saying – “Into your hands I commend my Spirit oh Lord!”
I was somehow deeply convinced that this was not the age when you have to say BYE to all of us so early! This somehow triggered me to check your bio-data from our catalog. There I noticed: Birth – 13 December 1949; Entered the Society of Jesus: 15 June 1972; Ordained Priest: 2 May 1982; Final Vows: 8 September 1987. So, quietly at the age of 65 without anyone’s attention you have gone before us to have the beatific vision of God in the company of Angels and Saints! May you continue to live joyfully in the company of eternal beings and kindly send us your blessings for we the earthly beings need your kind intercession! I admire you for having taught a lesson from your own physically challenged life: “Slow and steady wins the race!” Finally on this date you have won the race and have received the eternal reward – the life everlasting! Thanks be to God and May your soul Rest In Peace!
At this moment I want to share with you of my association with you and with your native place. I know that you were from Tamil Nadu and your native place was Kalladithidal near Anandoor, the land of Maravas where our dear Jesuit Saint John de Britto was martyred at Oriyur. In fact you were deeply touched by the missionary spirit of this Portugal Britto and you too wanted to become a missionary like him. So, you left your place and came as a young boy to become a Missionary in Gujarat. With your initial enthusiasm you wanted to serve as a Jesuit Novice to teach catechism to the students. Due to the fatal accident at Sabarmati you lost your left leg and got fixed an artificial leg instead. With that you became lovingly as the ‘langada Amal’(lame Amal) to all and made a remarkable difference in the Society and society at large till your last breath. Your ever YOUTHFUL life and Mission with the youth and others have become really the JOY OF THE GOSPEL to many within and outside Gujarat.
While we the missionaries of North Gujarat Mission is getting ready to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of our Mission on October 2 at Unteshwari along with the 44th annual feast, we were getting ready to invite you for this great event for we hear from your own students and you yourself have told me many times that you as a scholastic spent your week end ministry in the midst of Kalol boys’ boarding. To me you were one of the forerunners who paved the way for my future ministry. Somehow this kept you alive and you often told me – “Remember Girish Bapu, before you, I was there!” Well, your liking for North Gujarat never got diminished. Somehow once again you came back and from BSC Ahmedabad you were conducting your programme in Danta and Vadgam, the civil NG regions! In spite of your physical disabilities you could move everywhere in the South, Central and North Gujarat, namely Surat, Baroda, Vidhyanagar, Ahmedabad, Kalol, Danta, etc. and you moved everyone of your contacts spiritually and socially to soul search their inner and outer movements. Truly you were attuned to the life of converted Ignatius and you could draw inspirations from him to face the ‘challenged life’ as a Jesuit - Scholastic, Priest and Social Activist! amDg!
What a joy for me to witness your priestly ordination in the campus of Madurai St. Mary’s Cathedral on May 2nd 1982. I was a candidate for Gujarat to attend the vocation camp. There I was glad to see you getting ordained with your vibrant Gujarat companions Stanny Jebamalai and M.I.Raj. At one moment, at that time, I was stunned to see you limping, yet with the firm footing! I saluted at that moment only for the caring and understanding Society of Jesus and I wanted to belong to this Society which accepts all kinds of ‘persons with disabilities’ with an unconditional motherly love! Viva Madre Compaña de Jesus! Today the mother Society is proud of you dear AMAL, for you were PURE true to your name and have made a real difference in the Society to labour always for God and His peoples without seeking for rest. Truly your strengths have over powered your weaknesses! Thanks to your past Provincial’s right discernment to accompany you till the end. Hence, Our option is very clear Amal to accompany the marginalized, poor, weak and vikalang (disabled) as a life-long Mission! You so well experienced the spirit of the Society, in turn you, as a differently-abled, were at the side of the disadvantaged and displaced! Thanks be to God!
In the Society, I always admired you Amal for your charm and enthusiasm! Whenever and wherever we met, we met as loving companions of Jesus. Age was not barrier, for we both were barrier-free in our interest for the Mission in Gujarat. This was our talk when I met you along with Fr. Jerry Sequeira, your caring Rector, 10 months back in your room at Vidhyanagar. How can I forget your encouraging words? How can I forget your humorous nature? How can I forget your expressed dreams for the Youth of the entire three Latin rite Dioceses of Gujarat?
Here I attach a picture which we took in your room. Your external transparency has revealed your inner disposition to be ever open to all at all times. Thanks for being a mentor to serve the persons in need. Truly, like St. Paul, I could notice in you: When you were weak, you were strong Amal! Thanks for your friendship and companionship!
Looking forward to meet you one day at an appropriate time!
In Christ Jesus,
Unteshwari - Kadi