Fr. J. L. Pragasam who used to refer to himself, as “A Reed in God’s Hand” was born in Madurai on 21st April, 1937. He had his schooling at St. Mary’s, Madurai, and with his God-given gift of music, he was also a member of St. Mary’s Cathedral choir (“reed flute through which God has breathed eternally new melodies” Tagore in his Gitanjali). He joined the Society of Jesus in 1956 and was ordained as priest in 1971 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Madurai. He was proud to assert that he was the first parishioner of the Cathedral Parish and the first day scholar of St. Mary’s to become a priest.
In 1973, he began his teaching ministry in our schools. Students thronged to his classes attracted especially by his novel methods of teaching English. Of his students he would say: “Always I approached them as their father, mother, friend and guide. They crowded my working days as much as they crowded my praying heart.”
Retiring from school teaching after 21 years, he went as a missionary (1996 to2006) and engaged himself in pastoral ministry with much love and great generosity in Marabá, in the Jesuit Region of Amazonia, Brazil.
Back in the Province he worked in our institutions. While being on Oxygen support in the ICU of a Madurai Hospital, he was diagnosed as COVID-19 Positive. He passed away on 3rd July, 2020. He was laid to rest on the same day in the cemetery of St. Mary’s, Madurai.
People in Marabá, Brazil, used to fondly call Fr. J. L. Pragasam “Padre Jô”. As AMT is 9:30 hours behind IST, on July 3rd itself they organized a Eucharistic celebration in the parish church at 7.30 p.m. with the necessary social distancing measures. May God grant Padre Jô eternal rest!
- Antony Inico and George Raja