01.01.15. As the old year 2014 ended, we also received some shocking news: our Fr Joy Fernandes SJ expired!
We did not expect this; not to someone as young as Fr Joy.
Fr Joy Fernandes was 48 years old; he had completed 48 years of life on earth on 20 December 2014. And in next ten days he was gone from our sight.
Fr Joy was born in Bajjodi, Mangalore, near St Aloysius College. In fact, his family was very closely associated with the College – not just for educational purposes, but even for their life.
After his early education at St Aloysius School, the effervescent Joy joined the Society of Jesus to be a Jesuit in 1984. That was Mount St Joseph in Bangalore along the Bannerghatta Road. He was ordained a priest on 27 December 1999. After fifteen years of his priestly life, he is called by the Eternal Priest to serve at His Altar!
Fr Joy had some serious health issues. In 2012, he had visited USA for a meeting of secondary school jesuits. There, in stead of attending the meeting, he was admitted to a hospital with acute health problems.
In 2014, probably in September, he had undergone a bypass surgery; but had come out successful and in very short time. Out of the last 15 years of his priestly life, he had served at St Joseph’s Indian High School (IHS) Bangalore, and a stint at St Joseph’s High School in Hassan. He was again transferred to IHS Bangalore, and assisting the secondary school principal, besides managing the St Joseph’s Indian Middle School.
Fr Joy was a joy to be with. Whenever he was asked to speak, conduct something, teach or address any gathering, Fr Joy was at his best. Fr Hedwig da Costa (former principal of St Joseph’s College) would say, ‘even at home, or in our private dining room, Fr Joy thought he was addressing a massive rally!’ That was his enthusiasm. He was not just talking; he was enacting, he was living out with his listeners what he was talking verbally! His entire being would speak! It was a joy to watch and listen to Fr Joy!
Fr Joy was a brilliant teacher. He taught Kannada (his special love) and English, besides social studies. His students loved him! He made a mark on their lives not just as a teacher, but also as human being. Any person who met him once, would never forget him! That was Fr Joy’s persona and charisma.
I had lived with Fr Joy as his fellow Jesuit and community member in Dharwad. That was during our studies; I was his junior by a few years. And there is no denying the fact that Fr Joy was a joy to live with.
Fr Joy loved food to a certain extent; but he also had high sugar problem. On 31st morning (at around 10.30), he seemed to have gone to the dining room, and complained that his sugar level had plunged, and asked for fruit juice. After the juice, he went to the room, and then was found in his bathroom.
He was rushed to the nearby Mallya Hospital, and we the Jesuits of Karnataka Province, received a rare email from our Bangalore Head Quarters saying, “Father Joy Fernandes has been admitted to Mallya Hospital for emergency health crisis. Please pray.” That was around 3.15pm. The next email at 4.44pm said, he was no more! We had lost Fr Joy M T Fernandes.
We will miss you Fr Joy. May your soul rest in peace; may your family be able to bear the loss, especially your elder brother Fr Lawrence Fernandes SJ (who heads the Satya Nilayam Institute of Philosophical Research,Chennai).