By Devasagayaraj M Zackarias
Jesuit Father Andrew Francis died of cardiac arrest in a hospital, Jalandhar, Punjab.
On September 10, after the meeting at 11.30 pm with the other members of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), in the Radisson Jalandhar Hotel arranged by NAAC, he went to bed around 12 might. He informed the service to give him coffee at 5.30 am on the following day.
NAAC, an autonomous body, is a government organization in India that assesses and accredits higher education institutions.
When the attendant went with the coffee, he did not open the door. The other NAAC members planned to have breakfast at 7 am but he did not turn up. They were supposed to start by 8 am for the visit and since he did not turn up the hotel manager opened the door with the master card and found Fr. Andrew on the bed dead.
He was taken to the hospital and the doctors declared that he was brought dead. The body was kept in the Jalandhar diocesan hospital mortuary. After the post mortem, the body was handed over to the NAAC team as he went on for official travel. A COVID-19 test was done which showed negative.
The body was then embalmed at Delhi and brought by flight to Chennai.
On September 12, a solemn burial was given at Loyola College church and buried at the Loyola Chennai cemetery following the COVID-19 health measures.
Madurai Jesuit Provincial Father L. Jebamalai Irudayaraj was the main celebrant. Father Maria Joe Mahalingam, his colleague, preached the homily.
Father Andrew was a good administrator. Many new buildings were put up when he was the treasurer of the campus. All the students loved him and many were fans of him. He was a healthy person, said the Jesuit provincial.
Emeritus Archbishop Malayappan Chinnappa of Madras and Mylapore blessed the body. Fr. Francis Xavier, superior of the Loyola Jesuit community narrated the event of the death.
Father Andrew was born in Kanakkankuppam, Tamil Nadu. He was ordained on November 21, 1992, took final vow on May 8, 2005.
He had a brother priest who died a few years back and he has three sisters.
His mother passed away when he was a young boy. His father married again. Fr. Andrew has a stepbrother who is a priest of Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales (MSFS), also known as the Fransalians and a step-sister who is a nun.
Fr Andrew studied in St. Ann’s boarding school. Father Andrew Carof, his vocation promoter, encouraged him to join the Jesuits. He was working in the formation house, taught at Loyola College. He was the principal of St. Joseph’s College, Trichy and Loyola College, Chennai.
He was the campus treasurer when he died.
He was a simple person, a man of few words, and strict at the same time very loving. He helped many Dalit students to pursue their education, said PMD Arockiasamy, his uncle.