RIP-Fr Andrew Francis SJ

The sudden and untimely death of Fr. Andrew Francis on 10 September 2021 at Jalandhar shocked and dismayed every Jesuit in Tamil Nadu.Fr. Andrew Francis, as a member of the NAAC Committee, went to Jalandhar to visit Hans Raj Mahila Maha Vidyalaya. Fr. Andrew being a man on a mission, God called him to His eternal abode when he was on a mission.
Fr. Andrew Francis was born at Kanakkankuppam on 17 February 1961. He entered the Society of Jesus on 10 July 1981 at Beschi College, Dindigul, after completing his B.Com. at St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchi. He was ordained a priest on 21 November 1993 in Oriyur. He was a multi-talented and multi-faceted person. He was known for his simplicity and unswerving loyalty to the Society of Jesus.
As a Director of Pre-novitiate (1994–97) and Apostolic Home (1997– 98), he showed a remarkable interest in grooming the formees with utmost care and concern. Though he appeared to be very strict, he was very affectionate, sensitive and allowed them to grow in freedom with responsibility.
He spent 21 years in educational institutions as an assiduous educationist accompanying the student community. Joining as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Commerce, Loyola College, Chennai, in 1998, he served in various capacities while teaching and made a profound impact on the staff as well as students. He was Vice Principal of Loyola College, Chennai (2002–05), Deputy Principal of St. Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai, Principal of St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchi, (2013– 18) and Principal of Loyola College, Chennai (2018– 19).
It was during his term as Principal, St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchi, obtained the ‘Special Heritage Status’ in 2015. He left no stone unturned in the process of taking forward the institutions to newer heights of academic excellence. At the same time, having been convinced of the Province’s preferential option for the poor and the marginalized, he gave top priority to the empowerment of students from these sections of the population.
Administration was his forte and he served in various administrative capacities, such as Treasurer of the Chengai Jesuit Society (1998-2001), Deputy Director of Loyola Hostel (2001–02), Director of Loyola Hostel (2002–05), Secretary of Loyola College (2005–08), and Secretary and Treasurer of Loyola College Society (2008–11 & 2019–21). Some of the new buildings in Loyola campus were put up under his able supervision. He was also given the mandate to work toward Loyola becoming a university. He undertook this responsibility with utmost commitment through the process of studying existing universities, consulting lawyers and political leaders for their guidance.
As the Treasurer of Chengai Mission, he had laid a strong foundation for the eventual development of the Mission into a full-fledged Province. After the establishment of the new Chennai Province in 2019, he continued to get involved in its further development.
The funeral of Fr. Andrew took place in Loyola College on 12 September 2021. After the homage by Fr. Danis Ponniah, Provincial of Madurai,Fr. Jebamalai Irudayaraj, Provincial of Chennai, and the officials, staff and students of Loyola Institutions, his mortal remains were taken to the College Church where Fr. Jebamalai Irudayaraj presided over the Funeral Mass and Archbishop Emeritus M. Chinnappa said the final prayers in the church and the body of Fr. Andrew Francis was laid to rest in the College Cemetery.
Fr. Andrew was a man of faith and his loving devotion to St. Joseph made him a hard worker. He had recourse to St. Joseph in all circumstances. He was straightforward and minced no words and always stood for what is right and just. The man who was actively running around the campus and who went about doing good is no more with us physically. The man who was working without rest is now resting peacefully in Loyola campus. His sudden demise is indeed a great and irreplaceable loss to the Jesuits of Tamil Nadu.
May God grant Fr. Andrew Francis eternal rest.

Jeyabaskaran Savariraj