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Fr. N. A. Joseph As I Knew Him

By Matthew Adukanil SDB  - 6 Comments
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Chennai, Feb. 22. A great, unique Salesian has departed from our midst. When shall we see again another such? He was a man of no academic degrees but rich in native wisdom, a man whose possessions could be packed into a pillow case but whose heart held many thousands of poor and distressed in its embrace.
He was a great friend of the underdogs and identified with them in every way. Pontification and hierarchy were alien to his DNA but he had a great passion for the poor and grappled them to his heart. Society bigwigs were seldom in his room but an endless stream of the distressed and suffering filled his days and hours. They received solace, sacramental forgiveness in confession and timely help in need. He has educated thousands of needy boys and girls and they were grateful to him, often visiting him with simple gifts but hearts filled with gratitude. He was also a refuge for the wayward and misunderstood among the clergy, whom he welcomed, sheltered, listened to and helped out. Having himself been misunderstood by authorities in his own life he empathized well with those in the bad books of superiors. He was able to save and inject fresh spiritual life into several priest and religious.

Whereas other priests entertained provincials and superiors well out of courtesy or other motives he treated even simple clerics and seminarians as VIPs, surrounding them with his lavish hospitality. Clerics going to Kotagiri for retreats in the 1960s would not miss a visit to his mission at nearby Sholurmatom. Once, as a cleric, I sent him Rs 5 as a Christmas gift and he would write to me every year for my birthday thanking me for the big donation I gave to his mission.

He was a great friend of workers and helped them out to the maximum. While he was Rector in St. Mary's Co-cathedral, Chennai, he revolutionized the administration by bringing the wages of the management-appointed school support staff on par with the regularly appointed government-paid workers. This assuaged the heartburn and jealousies suffered by the lowly paid support staff.

While himself not highly educated, he supported and promoted learning and scholarship in others, and greatly encouraged confreres who showed interest and aptitude for higher university studies.

He was a priest who was deeply ethical, able to see beyond the constraints of conventional rules and laws when he saw a genuine human need and predicament. He really imbibed the great spirit of compassion of Jesus who broke the Sabbath laws to save afflicted humanity.

We can sum up his life as that of a zealous pastor all his life. In his last years when he was confined to his room it became a chapel, an altar and a confessional with crowds flocking to his room for confessions, guidance and attending his 11'0 clock mass. We miss you, Fr. N.A. Enjoy your well-earned rest.
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JoshiJoseph India
March 24, 2015

Fr NA Joseph has ensured the completion of Studies and settlement of career of thousands of students. I am one among them. He was always with such a positive spirit, that every time you ask him' How are you", his spontaneous response will be" Never have been better than this".. Rest in peace dear Father. Regards, Joshi Joseph

Antony EARATHARA India
February 25, 2015

From Henry Tirkey SDB (New Delhi Province): "Hearty condolence to all d confrers of chennai province. With prayerful wish Henry Tirkey sdb INN

Antony EARATHARA India
February 25, 2015

From Fr. Albert Thottungal (Purnea, Bihar): We were together in Mawlai and used enjoy his jokes and observations. Even then he was knon for his observance of "Poverty". He had taken his Doctorate in Economics and was the Principal of Tirupatur, Sacred Heart College for several years. Then he took to mission and parish apostolate. May God give him eternal rest. Hope you are keeping well. Albert sdb. Purnia.

Antony EARATHARA India
February 25, 2015

From Fr. John Kalapura (Mawlai, Shillong): With prayers for Fr.N.A. Joseph. who passed away.RIP. He was known only as Fr.N.A. ( earlier years) May God reward him abundantly and may he enjoy the company of D.Bosco. Fr.John Kalapura, sdb. (Savio Juniorate.Mawlai, Shillong).

Jaison India Chennai
February 25, 2015

Fr. N. A. Joseph never complained about his inability to get out of the room due to the paralytic attack. He always said "I am doing fine and no problem". I am one of those students who received educational assistance. I am grateful to him until my lifetime. I am happy that I was blessed by him last month when I visited him. When I said "you are a living saint", he just smiled. Simplicity is the ones of the virtues that attracted me. Jaison

Parackal Bijoy Joseph India Delhi
February 24, 2015

Thank you Fr.NA for what you are. May the Lord the merciful and just judge be your reward.

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