Tuesday, September 30, 2014



My dear friends in the Lord,
On Sat 13th September, a little after midnight, Fr. S. Amalraj answered the call to be in the Company of Jesus in heaven. We pray for his departed soul. We have a number of sick in our midst. Besides their own community, the Province Infirmary at Jeevan Darshan, Premal Jyoti, St. Mary's Nursing Home and St. Xavier's College communities are taking care of some of them. I express my gratitude to these communities for taking care of the sick of the Province.
It is true that we have a Province Infirmary to take care of the sick and the aged. The Province will go out of its way to ensure that all the sick and the aged are taken care of in the Province infirmary. However, the primary responsibility of taking care of the sick and the aged members of the community lies with the community. To the extent possible, the sick and the aged should be cared for by the community. But there comes a time when an active community cannot physically take care of the sick and the aged. That is the time to ask the Province to take care of them. I'm sure, the sick and the aged would prefer to be cared for in and by their own communities, to the extent possible.
The sick and the aged, even when sent to the Province Infirmary, still remain members of their particular community. I'm sure all members of the community will want to and do go out of their way to keep in touch with the sick and the aged of their community through phone and visit when possible, in the infirmary or the hospital. They will do well to mention them in their daily prayers both at individual and at the community level. I'm sure most of us do this, but it is always good to keep reminding ourselves of our grateful duty towards the sick and the aged of our community. 
In the understanding of the Society, we work as a community under a Superior. Directors of Works, including PP who are not also Superiors also work under the guidance of the local Superior. Keeping this in mind, communications regarding matters of the community and its ministries should come through the local Superior. When the local Superior signs any such documents, what he is saying is that he has followed due process of consultation and he takes complete responsibility for the communication. This is a help we want to provide the community to discern together, find God's will and follow the same.
October, the month dedicated to Our Lady and recitation of the Rosary is also the month of festivals. We remember the Father of the Nation, Gandhiji and pray that we all follow the path of ensuring that the benefits of freedom go unto this last.
To help us remember this and put into practice, Oct 2 to 8 is celebrated as Joy of Giving Week, now also called, Dan-Utsav. I encourage all to give of their very best and encourage others to do so.
Gujarat celebrates Navratri, the festival of fertility, dance and joy. May the Lord grant plentiful crops and give us the spirit of sharing the goods of this earth with all. May Dashera be a festival for us to overcome evil with good.
On 6th, our Muslim brethren celebrate Bakr Id, remembering the willingness of our Patriarch Abraham to sacrifice his only son. May this celebration lead us to sacrifice our very selves for the Greater Glory of God.
On 8th of this month, Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes completes 75 years. I urge all to remember him very specially on this day.
On behalf of the Province, I extend our greetings to Bp Thomas Macwan as he celebrates his birthday on 14th.
Fr. General will be present for the JCSA Meeting to be held in Phesama, Nagaland. Kindly keep the JCSA and the whole Society in your prayers.
At the end of October, the Province will host the national JEMAI Convention. Do pray for all our indigenous people and all those who work among them.
I wish you all a Happy Diwali, the festival of lights. May we keep our lamps burning and enlighten the path of all.
Do say a special prayer for our Coadjutor Brothers as we celebrate the feast of St. Alonso Rodrigues.

A. M. D. G.

One Leg In Heaven, The Other On The Move-In The Service of The Lord- Fr.Vincent Braganza

One Leg In Heaven, The Other On The Move-In The Service of The Lord
(Snippets on the life of Fr Sebastian Amalraj, s j)

The news that Fr. Amal had passed away at three am that night, was on the community notice board when i got to the dining room for breakfast on the 13th of September. Curiously he was born on the 13th too but in the month of December, 1946. Three months before he could turn 68 he was gone.

Two photographs went up on the community notice board during the course of that morning. One of ‘Joaquim More’ vintage taken in his novitiate (perhaps before his accident) and the other capturing him in more recent years. Both photographs carried the bright beaming smile one would receive when one greeted him. In both photographs the smile was indelibly the same. The ups and downs of the years did not dim it. Coupled to that smile and equal to it was his full bodied laugh, merry and loud and pouring out invariably from his insides. A number of his friends and companions would mischievously evoke it from time to time over meals or during recreation by reminding him of a sentence he never carried out “i will take the first bus
back.” It was a sentence that was uttered in more innocent years, when he was easily scandalized by the unacceptable utterances of a more hardy companion coming from more urban and less traditionally entrenched background.

Amal himself landed in Ahmedabad, from Kalladithidal, in Ramnad district of Tamilnadu, after completing his
pre University studies, and joined St Xavier’s College as an economics student in the F Y B A in june 1968 for a year. He would return thirty five years later to the Xavier Residence on campus as Rector, and would work at the Behavioral Science Center (BSC), currently christened Human Resouce Development Center (HDRC). When he joined the novitiate in 1969, I was a junior at Premal jyoti, and remember vividly, the unfortunate accident and its aftermath that forced him to interrupt his noviceship. The response to rally around was characteristically remarkable, more so because the recovery was prolonged and made
him endure much. By far the largest part of the years he was appointed to the Xavier Residence Community were spent in leading us, as Rector of the community. One aspect of the leadership he exercised is reflected in the three edifices on the college campus, that came up during his tenure.

All of us recognize that he had a major, significant part in setting them up. They stand in ample proof that he had the will to lead and lead, he did. He had consultations, took the decisions, shouldered the responsibilities that follow-up required, and was ever willing to implement if there was nobody in the community to follow up. Where better endowed Jesuits chose to block with a “why”, Amal, preferred to circumvent and overcome with a ‘why not’. Not every one appreciated this trait, but it must rank as a singular one that everybody cannot lay claim to. When I was appointed principal of the college in October 2008. I especially enjoyed this side of him that encouraged my work, rather than curtailing it. His basic calling as a Jesuit drew him to the social action apostolate. He loved writing and implementing projects to the extent that he once conveyed in a conversation to me, that he was good at it, good enough to get them funded.

During his stint at the BSC and earlier at Ashadeep and at the social center in Surat (essentially three places that he worked through his Jesuit life) he did have several projects funded. I am not in a position to say if all the proposals he made or conceived, actually got funded. The ones that were funded do however vouch for the talent he claimed. One must appreciate this talent in him, especially today when the province is looking keenly for, and promoting project writers! Unfortunately, however, there were fellow social activists who were not always comfortable with his outlook and approach. Perhaps his optimism crashed into
their realism....pessimism?? He faced their music dourly!

In the very first year of his superiorship he had to take up the challenge of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Xavier Residence. On paper it sounds like one of those, “so what’s great about that?” task. In practise it meant shepherding a community that ranged from men in their eighties to some in their thirties, across to Premal Jyoti for at least six months, and then back to a more liveable renovated residence. Several among them had been entrenched at the residence for years!! In emotional terms the response to that project carried on many months beyond those six months and spanned the positive and the negative. In all my interactions with him, i sensed that he never let the negatives influence his interactions at the day
to day level in his duties as a superior. When he had to put a member of the community in his place, he did. Me too!! Others who deserve to be mentioned may not want to be!! As if to balance his first years as rector, the latter phase of his superiorship was involved in erecting the two angels on campus: the XICA building, and the college golden jubilee block. Getting these buildings going meant cutting through bureaucratic red tape and straddling administrative hurdles. Whether it was a thick skin or the virtue of humility, God alone can tell, but no inimical official managed to stop him. Thanks to his tenacity and support the foundations to
the two buildings were laid on the 31st july 2010. By the time the buildings were nearing completion he was asked to move back to vidyanagar, to Ashadeep from where he had come to the BSC. Circumstance in the organization decreed that a new leadership was called for. Amal went, left without rancour.

With the smile and beyond the laugh, lived a Jesuit who knew suffering and pain in their stark reality. The trauma of the accident that occurred in the novitiate when he was on his cycle for his weekly catechism apostolate at the Sabarmati power house, he would confess many years later in a community sharing never left him. By dint of the circumstances and events surrounding that tragic happening, Amal lived an important rule of our way of proceeding that we had to commit to memory as novices. According to that rule a Jesuit must be ever prepared to be on the move. An unforgettable image of him for me will always be of him tucked in, in the front seat of his vehicle, with his driver next to him ready to hit the road. So comfortable
was he on the move that he could be sound asleep in that vehicle. Many will of course attest to his ability to sound so loud in his sleep that the rest (pardon the pun) of his neighbours would be disrupted.

His handicap never stopped him. He went on to take his first vows after returning to the novitiate in 1972,
completed his formation, got ordained, studied law and did special studies to equip himself for the social action apostolate. His Jesuit outlook on his apostolic calling took him to the West Indies, Columbia and Ireland, while the rehabilitation of his limbs took him to Spain, more than once. He coupled these visits at times with visits to funding agencies in Europe. Projects at the BSC took him tirelessly up to far points in kutch. He was unstoppable.

In fact in the last couple of years before his transfer he experienced a heart problem requiring the insertion of a stent, and some of us advised the provincial to ask him to live at the residence, for better personal care. Further it was suggested that his travelling should be curtailed heavily. He pleaded with the provincial saying “if you stop me from moving i will die. It is the thing that brings me life, and energy.” The provincial relented. I guess he knew that this one Jesuit was one who was not afraid to go. The eulogies at his farewell Eucharist testified to this.

At the cemetery as we were waiting for his body to be interred, a fellow Jesuit asked me whether his artificial leg was in the coffin. My answer was no, it could be of service to someone else in need. But then my mind went back to the days after the accident. In those days i was a junior and then a linguist at Premal Jyoti. We visited him often at the Civil Hospital, confined to his bed, supine, waiting to be mended and healed, never suspecting that the limb that had the lesser injury was actually deteriorating. That was a difficult time for him and for those to whose care he was assigned. In the end that limb had to be severed, but he rose above the resentment that the pain and trauma brought with them. According to the custom of those days the amputated limb would be given burial honours. At that moment, in reflecting back, it struck me that since
those days Amal had one leg in heaven already. Two rough, flat, big, black stones lie fixed to a crude wooden frame with four legs. It is a table whose appearance is deceptive. If you bend down and peer at the underside you will find smooth granite surfaces bearing inscriptions that contain the name …. By the Rector, Fr Sebastian Amalraj, sj….. as a part of them. They are the foundation stones that were blessed to begin work on the new buildings (i have christened them the two angels, because on a quiet moonlit night, their off-white veneer shimmers, and it seems like seraphs have descended to the ground ) on the campus, and were blessed by Amal. Ironically, that wooden frame lay on my daily path to the research center. It lay there for over two months before it disappeared. I had often thought of moving it and saving it for some good purpose. Before i could get down to action, one day it disappeared, and a few days before he died, the stones and the wood found use to become that table...... and Amal having vaulted over with his other leg to meet his maker, looks at the table and smiles that unmistakable smile, and breaks into that roaring laugh and shouts “why not?....everything is possible”. The ugly, the bad, the good. I had to reverse the order, for in life in interacting with him in many a bleak moment, his choice to be optimistic carried the day. Requient in Pacem, Fr Sebastian Amalraj.
By Fr Vincent Braganza, sj.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A thanksgiving note from Mr.Antony ( Late Fr.Amalraj's Nephew)

A thanksgiving note from Mr.Antony ( Late Fr.Amalraj's Nephew)

Dear Fr Vijay and  Fr Sunil,

I have reached Singapore today morning .  Many thanks to  both of you as you  have spent your time and efforts  in organising  all the things that were needed for  the final bid-adieu to Fr Amal , My beloved uncle . My special thanks to Fr Raj and Fr Stanley for their  help in consoling me .

On Behalf of all our family members,  I  would like to thank  Rev Fr Provincial , Rev Fr Bishop and all other Reverent fathers and Reverent sisters for such  wonderful  final mass . Anand Parish community did a fascinating farewell to their priest who worked and lived among them in all his fruitful years . We would like to thank all of the community members for their sincere support and dedication .

I also would like thank you and all other helping hands who have helped Fr Amal during  his final days as he struggled to pull  his aching  body which become uncontrollable by his mind .

Fr Amal lived as a champion for the underdogs and bear the witness for the cross and lived a full  life as a  Jesuit priest. Inspired by the christian principle of Love , he loved the community and captured every one's heart with his untiring work  that he sincerely carried out . He inspired  me by his vision and ideas from my younger days . He always calls his siblings and relatives   occasionally and enquire about their well being which we will  be missing for ever .

The agonising sorrow  that  filled our heart  on 13th Sept 2014  is pressing us hard and it is tough to remove his memories from all of us . The Joyful feeling that  the ever living and mighty god called him to his place and freed him from this worldly chorus overshadows our sorrow as we look forward to move on with our faith that we will meet him at fathers place some day sooner or later .

Please convey our gratitude  and thanks to all the Jesuit community members .Our  best wishes to carry on  the mission of catholic faith in ashadeep and all other places in Gujarat to help the needy ,poor  and  underprivileged .

Let us remember each other in prayer and be in touch .

Lovingly brother

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Jyoti Xavier writes about Fr.Amalraj Sebastian

Jyoti Xavier writes about Amalraj Sebastian:

Dear friends

I came back from my morning walk and came to know that Father Amalraj Sebastian has passed away. It took some time for the sad news to sink in. There was some regret that I had not been able to pick up his phone few days ago. Normally I call him back; but this time with incessant rain and flood, I had failed to call him thus I was totally unaware of him being admitted in Pillar hospital in Vadodara. I missed therefore an opportunity to be with him in the hospital. An elder brother, a dear friend, a colleague I had worked with him is no more. I will miss him and i am sure many who have experienced his love, guidance and friendship.

Amal was physically challenged but that did not prevent him from working. He was a visionary & encouraged others to innovate in the developmental work. He cared for people who worked with him. He also appreciated the service rendered to him by people.

In the society we live in, it is our work, the post we hold that defines who we are. So we are constantly challenged to prove ourselves. But the true enlightenment comes in realization of our inner being. In my own conversation with Amal during the past few months, I picked up strands of such thoughts; a realization that it is in caring and being who we are to each other that ultimately help us achieve our life’s goal.

Amal had a deep interest in working with the youth. His contribution to youth ministry in the Church at large and in the Society of Jesus in particular is noteworthy. He was a mentor and guide to many of us who have worked with youth. In the world where branding is as important as performance, he was a bit out of place, someone who belonged to the old school. He worked silently always keeping the interests of the people and the Society of Jesus he belonged to.

Amal’s style of working is to trust people, delegate power and responsibilities to his colleagues. He believed in sharing and working together with his companions. He encouraged his companions and friends to be visionaries and supported them in their endeavours. He developed tough skin to criticism and showed kindness to his staff, companions and people. He was an institution builder and worked hard to build institutions which are truly serving the poor and the needy. He was a dreamer and worked silently to achieve those dreams. Truly, he lived his life fully and meaningfully. I will always be indebted to him for his encouragement, love and guidance. Goodbye Amal…May your life continue to inspire us in our life.

Monday, September 8, 2014


Last month we reflected on our role as that of trustees, and not that of owners. Trustees must be accountable. The Society has structures of accountability. Each individual Jesuit is accountable to his community through the director of work in matters related to apostolic interventions and in other matters, directly to the local superior and ultimately, to God. The local superior is to discern God’s will for his
community through the community and in a very special way, through the house consult.
But our accountability is not limited to each one of us as an individual but also corporately. Besides the local
communities, various Commissions and District communities are also systems of planning, execution and accountability. In our Province, we have given ourselves a quasi governing body in the form of the PCM. This is another structure for accountability. We have adopted a Vision-Mission-Action Plan. It is up to each one of us as individuals and as communities to ensure we realize this Vision-Mission through an appropriate, context specific action plan and be accountable for the same. The Government rules demand Governing Bodies for all Trusts. These bodies are to meet at least twice a year and become another structure to help accountability. Visitation of the Provincial is another such occasion to look at ourselves as individuals and communities and be accountable.
I call upon each and every Jesuit of the Gujarat Province to make use of these structures of accountability
constructively, use them as means of discerning God’s will all the times and keep on becoming better instruments in the hand of God for His greater glory.As a follow up of the SAP process, we had a one day workshop for PCM and Superiors to reflect on the current contexts and to suggest ways and means to respond to the situation. The Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, “Joy of the Good News” was one of the sources for reflection. Almost every member turned up for the workshop and participated enthusiastically, openly expressing their views on either side. We thank God for this great spirit given to each one of us as individuals and as a Province to show our concern and care and think of ways and means of spreading the Good News in our particular context.
In the SAP process, the Province had raised concerns about our formation structures, especially those of the
Novitiate in Ahmedabad and Theologate in Sevasi. The Formation Commission, in its last meeting, went through the process of Ignatian discernment and has submitted its report. I call up on each member, district, commission of the Province who wish to make his/their personal discernment known, to do so and send a report to me before the next consult. The Consult will take into account all those reports for making the final decision.
I call upon all the Coordinators of Dts and of Commissions to take this process forward, conscientizing ourselves and finding ways and means to proclaim in our specific situation. On the birth anniversary of Dr S Radhakrishnan, we celebrate Teachers’ Day. May we honour our teachers by imitating their virtues, paying them just salaries and remain perennial students, always learning and longing to learn more. Teaching, a
noble profession, has become for some us, a mere job, preferably, a job in a grant-in-aid institution. We need to reflect seriously on how can we ensure that the apostolic aim remains at the centre of our ministry of teaching, irrespective of other considerations.
We also celebrate the Birthday of Our Blessed Mother. May she inspire us to put into practice, her fiat, meditating on her words, “behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me, according to your word.”