Fr. Xavier Irudayaraj joined the Society in 1958. His formation was fast-tracked and he was ordained a priest in 1968. This resulted in a happy coincidence years later in 2018 when he was the only one of his batch to celebrate both his Diamond Jubilee in religious life and the Golden Jubilee in priestly life. With Licentiates in Philosophy and Theology, he was sent to Paris for his PhD in Theology in 1971 and, after his return, he was appointed as Professor of Theology at St. Paul’s Seminary, Tiruchi, (1974–1984) and Arul Kadal, Chennai (1974–1992).
He made significant contributions to MITS (Madras Inter-Theologate Sharing) regularly organised at the initiative of Arul Kadal RTC in collaboration with Sacred Heart Seminary, Poonamallee, Madras Bible College and Seminary, Department of Christian Studies, and Gurukul Theological Centre. During the visit of Pope St. John Paul II to Chennai in 1986, he organized a grand Interreligious Dialogue Meet at Gandhi Mandapam.
He served the Church in various capacities as the Asst. Director of NBCLC, Bangalore (1992–1994), the Secretary of the Interreligious Dialogue Commissions of the CBCI and TNBC (2001–2005) and as the Director of the Laity Centre of the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore (2005–2006). His did the pioneering work of launching Marai Aruvi – the Tamil Theological Quarterly and Andrada Arul Vakku – the reflections on the daily Mass readings as a joint venture with the laity, the religious and the clergy.
During the past few months Fr. X. Irudayaraj was talking to all insistently about his imminent death which came on 16th June. Fr. Devadoss mentioned this in his funeral homily. Singing Asatoma Sadgamaya, Tamasoma Jyotir-gamaya, Mrityorma amritam-gamaya that Fr. Irudayaraj had taught him at Shembaganur in 1969, he said that Fr. Irudayaraj has been praying God persistently to lead him from death to immortality. Bishop Emeritus Jude Paulraj in his message highly commended him for having completed his PhD very successfully (PHD – Preparation for a Happy Death).
- L. Michael Doss, SJ