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Sri Lanka: Church mourns death of illustrious Jesuit priest 

Father Guy de Fontgalland Rajendram. (Photo supplied)

The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has mourned the death of a Jesuit priest who wrote an extensive history of two dioceses in the country.

Jesuit Father Guy de Fontgalland Rajendram died on June 1 at 1:00 p.m. (local time) at General Hospital Batticaloa. He was 89.

The funeral service to honor and celebrate the life of Rajendram will be held on June 5 at 3 p.m. at St. Mary's Cathedral in Batticaloa. Following the service, he will rest at the Alayadicholai Christian Cemetery, Batticaloa.

One of his most valuable contributions to the dioceses of Trincomalee and Batticaloa was editing and publishing Father John W. Lange's (S. J.) 'Palm Fringed Coast' (History of Trincomalee-Batticaloa Diocese, 1895-1967) in 2007. 

It serves as a historical sourcebook of both dioceses. Rajendram’s long years of service in the Lord's vineyard cannot go unnoticed. As a man of God, he has done his part and waits for his reward, said Father Augustine Navaretnam in his tribute to the Jesuit priest. 

The Batticaloa diocese is situated in the Eastern Province, about 350 kilometers from the country's capital, whereas the Trincomalee diocese is located on Sri Lanka's northeastern coast, about 257 kilometers from Colombo.

Rajendram was one of the most senior members of the Jesuit family of Sri Lanka.

He taught at St. Francis Xavier’s Seminary, Colombuthurai, Jaffna, while serving at the Faculty of Science, University of Jaffna. 

He was born in 1934 and joined the Society of Jesus in 1951. He received his religious training in different parts of the world. 

As a young novice in India, he started his formation and continued his philosophical studies at Sacred Heart College, Shembaganur, Tamil Nadu, southern India. 

Before entering theological studies spent two years as a regent in teaching ministry at St. Joseph’s College, Trincomalee, and St. Michael’s College, Batticaloa; the Jesuit missionaries ran both institutions during that period. 

He left for the USA for his theological studies and was ordained priest there on June 12, 1963. This year was his diamond (60 years) Jubilee of sacerdotal ordination.

On his return from the USA as a priest, he taught at St. Michael’s College, Batticaloa, for two years (1967–1968). 

The priest excelled in his research studies and completed his doctorate in Entomology in 1970. With this, he entered the teaching field at the higher educational institutions of Sri Lanka.

Accordingly, he first joined the University of Peradeniya as a lecturer and served there for four years (1975–1979). 

Later, he moved on to the University of Jaffna and rendered his services for 16 years during the civil war (1979–1995). He returned to his hometown Batticaloa and joined the academic community of Eastern University, Sri Lanka. 

He was Vice-Chancellor at Eastern University, Sri Lanka, from 1995 to 1997. 

He was the first and only Catholic priest to hold a particular position in a state university in Sri Lanka. 

He was instrumental in bringing and establishing the Faculty of Health-Care Sciences to the Eastern University, Sri Lanka.

Another notable achievement of his career is the present Senate block of the Eastern University, Sri Lanka. He later rendered his services as one of the Council members of the same university. 

After he retired from the university services in 1999, he continued his academic activities.

He was the director of Jesuit Academy, Batticaloa, for over ten years (2006–2015) and organized diploma and certificate programs in English along with Loyola College, Chennai, India. 

He served as District Superior of the Jesuit Community Batticaloa for six years (2004–2010). He held this position during the difficult time of Tsunami devastation. Many young children benefitted through his endeavor. 

He rendered his services to the affected and afflicted along with his Jesuit team here in Batticaloa. His benefits to the social organizations of Batticaloa were immense. He served as the mentor, advisor, and guide of the Batticaloa District Civil Society.

Rajendram was a committed Jesuit, illustrious academic, and devoted pastor, said Father Navaretnam.- Santosh Digal


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