The native village of an Indian Jesuit priest eternalizes his martyrdom

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Residents of Virgalur in southern Tamil Nadu declare the anniversary of his death July 5 as ‘Father Stan Swamy’s Day’

A man pays his respects to Indian Jesuit Father Stan Swamy on his first death anniversary on a temporary pillar erected in his home parish in southern Tamil Nadu on July 5. (Photo: provided)

Posted: July 05, 2022 10:42 GMT

Updated: July 05, 2022 at 11:45 GMT

Every July 5 will be celebrated as ‘Father Stan Swamy Day’ in memory of the Indian Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist who died in prison on the day, residents of his home village in the southern state of Tamil Nadu have said. .

The 85-year-old priest died in pre-trial detention on July 5, 2021, after being arrested for having links with Maoist terrorists.

Residents of Virgalur village in Trichy district, where Father Swamy was born, want to preserve his legacy, said Father A. Santhanam, a lawyer from Madurai who joined the local Catholic community in celebrating a memorial mass in his honor.

“Villagers have declared the anniversary of his death as Father Stan Swamy’s Day,” he said.

Villagers and family members of the late priest have erected a temporary pillar in his memory in front of the parish church to allow visitors to pay their respects. A public meeting was held in the evening attended by ministers, legislators and other dignitaries from Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, the Jesuit Province of Chennai has released a Tamil language translation of Father Swamy’s book, “I am not a silent spectator”, which was originally written and published in English.

Praising the villagers, Fr Santhanam told UCA News that Fr Swamy has transcended barriers of caste, creed, language, culture and religion, among others, to cater to people in need of help.

“What makes Father Swamy exceptional or the greatest among us is his love for people in distress,” he said. “He was unselfish and never cared about the consequences of his decision like Jesus and ultimately had to pay with his life as a prisoner on trial.”

Father Swamy’s inspiration was Jesus Christ, but he also learned from Karl Marx and social reformers like Periyar and BR Ambedkar. Thus, he could bring together people from all walks of life and unite them despite their different ideologies, Fr. Santhanam added.

“Another important quality of Father Swamy was that he often questioned those in power,” he said.

Father Swamy was charged with serious offenses such as sedition and arrested at his residence in Ranchi, the capital of eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, on October 8, 2020, and taken into custody on sight in Mumbai the following day.

The elderly priest who suffered from Parkinson’s disease and other age-related illnesses was denied bail by the Magistrate’s Court and High Court and he eventually died in a hospital in Mumbai.

The Jesuits have approached the Mumbai High Court to seek to remove the odious guilt from the name of Father Swamy who lived and died for the poorest of the poor and exploited.

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