OBITUARY of Rev. Fr. Savarimuthu Irudayam SJ (HAZ)
(1943 - 2019)
Fr. Savarimuthu Irudayam, was born on 11 September 1943 in Sengudi, Ramnad District of Tamil Nadu, to K. A. Irudayam and S. Sebastiammal. Mr. K.A. Irudayam had 13 children, 9 sons and 4 daughters. Out of thirteen, two became Priests (Fr. Savari was one of them) and one became a religious sister. Fr. Savarimuthu had his elementary education in his own parish and secondary education at De Britto High School Devakottai and later obtained his Pre-University Certificate at St Joseph’s College, Tiruchirapally.
Fr. Savarimuthu Irudayam, who was always known as Savari joined the novitiate on 20th June 1963, at SSC Sitagarha along with his companion Fr. Edward Mudavassery SJ, (HAZ). After the novitiate, he did his Juniorate in Xavier Teachers Training Institute, Patna. Soon after the Juniorate, in June 1966 he went to Manresa House Ranchi for six months to get the basics of Hindi, a language, which he later mastered and spoke fluently. The year 1966 was a year of severe drought in Chotanagpur, and Savari’s Hindi studies were abruptly terminated and he was missioned to Chandwa, the main relief centre of the western part of the Hazaribag Region. This famine relief work was a formative experience for Fr. Savari, after which his interest was turned in the direction of an apostolate of upliftment of the poor and marginalized, an apostolate which continued to draw his full attention.
While still a scholastic he obtained a Master’s degree in Anthropology at Dharwar in Karnataka University, and a diploma in Industrial Relations and Business Management in Bombay University, through the Xavier Institute of Management, followed by two years of regency in St Xavier’s, Hazaribag. After theology in Vidyajyoti, Delhi, Savari was ordained a Priest on 23rd April 1977 in Madurai. Fr. Savari’s first priestly ministry was as parish Priest in Garu, a forest area with a scattered faithful to look after. He took an interest in the Brijias- a very backward tribe of the area and eventually helped to set up a school for them managed by the Holy Cross Sisters.
His Tertianship was in Beschi College, Dindigal, in 1981. Soon after Tertianship for three years Savari was the Director of Sarwangin Gram Vikas Kendra, Daltonganj, an apostolic organization for social uplift under the Diocese of Daltonganj. It was during these years that Fr. Savari realized, as did Fr. Constant Lievens a century before, that legal advice and guidance was a great need for the poorer tribals of the area. So, he began the study of law and eventually graduated and was later admitted to the Bar Council in Ranchi. This apostolate developed into a centre for legal help to people needing guidance through the maze of court procedures. ALERT - Arrupe Centre for Legal Education, Research and Training - came into being, and for some years functioned in the campus of St Xavier’s, Hazaribag. He was also responsible take care of the Province Land documents and records and also handle many cases of the Province and Diocese in these regards.
Meantime, Savari’s interest had for some time been shifting to the problems of villages affected by developments associated with the growing military presence in the hill area of Netrahat, Latehar district. The ‘Field Firing Range’ became a big public issue. Fr. Savari encouraged the people to organize themselves to prevent eviction, and to protect their land, houses and themselves from the danger of exploding and unexploded artillery shells. The people’s movement was largely successful and the project has for the present been abandoned. To observe more closely this problematic area, Fr. Savari began to spend more time around Pakripath, a parish under the Province, and it was decided to transfer ALERT there in 2011, where he was residing up to the last days of his life. He offered appreciated company to the parish priest in this isolated spot, and was a good community man. He moved to Pakripath basically to be with the people.
Fr. Savari was a cheerful social activist who was equally at home with the humblest villagers and high government officials. Fr. Savari was the co-founder of the Netrahat field firing range movement and also the co-founder of the Jan Sangarsh Samiti which took the responsibility to organize people to stand up for their rights and dignity. He strengthened the movement by the regular meetings at the grass root level and through his legal advice.
For some years he worked in close collaboration with the Bishops of Hazaribag, and Daltonganj, and with Emeritus Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi. In order to be more effective in his ministry, he chose to approach government agencies and other NGO’s as well. He was regularly invited to sensitize IAS trainees regarding the plight of the ordinary and marginalized people who would be under their care in their future placements. He was fully dedicated to the all-round development of the village population of Latehar, and was always full of optimism and ready to expound his plans for the future. He was much sought after by all sorts of people – religious and ordinary villagers for legal advice and counsel. He was a consultor and advisor for decision-makers in several core issues that affected the people of Chotanagpur. Often, the local political leaders also consulted him on burning issues of the state.
Fr. Savari worked mainly among the Tribals of Jharkhand, but he was always open to include the people of other faiths and groups in his plans and projects. His contributions will be fondly remembered by the people of the whole Chotanagpur. Fr. Savari will be missed by so many People in Chotanagpur, as he touched the lives of so many of them, specially the poor and simple village folks. Of late he wanted to empower the youth of the area with various skill development programs and was organizing activities of various kinds. He also took care of Mother Earth by taking interest in organic farming and gardening.
For the past several months, Fr. Savarimuthu was not keeping well. So, he went to St. Thomas hospital, Chennai, on 19 June, 2019 for treatment of his high blood pressure and heart-related complications. On 26 June he sent a message to the Socius saying that his health was improving and he was looking forward to return to the province by mid-July. After spending about two weeks in the hospital, he decided to go home to be with his family and to attend a family function. After the function he went to Kulithalai, Trichy, with his sister. On the morning of 08 July 2019 while in Kulithalai, he felt much uneasiness and vomited. And on the same morning at 08.45 am, he passed away of cardiac arrest.
May His Soul Rest in Peace!
Keep up to date
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for regular articles and updates.