Fr Vellapani was born on 13th May 1939, in Mundakayam – a village in Kerala. He entered the Society of Jesus on 11th July 1961, and was ordained a priest on 26th March 1971. As a young priest, Fr Vella was sent to minister to the faithful of Ahmednagar district. In his missionary work, he had the interest of the poor at heart. He began at Rahata, and later ministered in Shevgaon, Shrirampur, Beed, Ahmedagnar and Ghodegaon for about 15 years. Zeal and hard work have always been the main characteristics of his ministry.
He was a man of prayer – not neglecting his daily spiritual duties. Rising early morning he gave time for prayer, and energized by it, he started his day’s work. In 1987 he was missioned to Rosary Church, Ajra, and later he moved to St Anthony’s in Gadhinglaj, where he labored for eight years, to establish it as a full-fledged mission station. In Ajra, he labored hard to put up a spacious Church and a large residence for the Jesuits. From 1998 to 2009 he toiled and “earned his daily bread by the sweat of his brow” at Xavier Farm in Santibastiwad. No work was menial to him. Wherever he was posted, he identified himself with the poor, and labored very hard most of the day, with just a break for his noon meal.
It was rightly noticed that Fr Vella was a man of many trades. In the construction work he was everything from an ordinary labourer to mason, plumber, mechanic, electrician, etc. He was also a farmer, a well-digger, preacher, teacher, driver… well, the list can go on and on. Small wonder that on several occasions he ran a mission station single handed.
Courtesy: Socius, GOA Province