It is ironical that while the Fit India Movement was being inaugurated on 29th August, Fr. Arul Joe succumbed to heart and renal failure at St Joseph’s Hospital, Guntur. He began his priestly ministry as a formator and, later on, opted for pastoral ministry. Wherever he worked, be it Hindupur, Kondramutla, Vinukonda, Sivapuram, Darsi, Krishnapuram, Amalapuram, Kadiri, or Arulnagar, he always attracted the faithful with his powerful preaching in chaste Telugu accompanied by cheerful singing. He was a good pastor bringing the healing touch of God to everyone in need. He stayed close to the marginalised as he was a true shepherd living with the smell of the sheep. He always had a soft corner for the poor unaided, contingent staff whose homes he visited regularly to conduct prayer meetings and share a meal. Leading a simple life with minimal needs, working silently without pomp, not hogging the limelight, ready to do any menial job, not expecting any reward for his efforts, preferential love for the poor, giving priority to others, not bothered about being slighted by others, not taking revenge, suffering silently, etc., were the characteristic traits of his loving personality. His love for the local language and culture was most inspiring. Though a Tamil he made strenuous efforts to master Telugu and got the first rank in BA at the University examination. As a charismatic preacher and healer, he was often invited to many parishes. He has left a huge void in the hearts of many. May his soul rest in peace!
- A Rex Angelo, SJ