Born in a small village called Velliavilai in Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu, Fr. Fernandes did his primary and high school studies in a nearby town of his native place, and went on to finish his Secondary Grade teacher training, and got into the teaching profession in a government school. During his years of service as a teacher, he experienced the call of God to be a Jesuit priest. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1975 at the age of 29. He and his companions, had their novitiate formation at Mount St. Joseph, Bengaluru. Being a graduate and a trained teacher, he went through his Jesuit formation rapidly and, after his Ordination in 1984, he was fully involved in the teaching ministry. He served as a teacher at St. Mary’s, Madurai, and St. Mary’s, Dindigul, before moving to De Britto, Devakottai and St. Peter’s, Viragalur, in Kumbakonam Diocese where he was also the Headmaster. His simplicity in behaviour, dress code and compassionate approach were really exemplary.
After his retirement, he served in our estates for about a decade, fully engaged in coaching tribal children, teaching them English daily, and arranging for their admission in secondary schools elsewhere. As his health was deteriorating in the hills, he was transferred to Beschi Illam, Dindigul, in 2017.
He was suffering from diabetes, respiratory tract infection and chronic ulcer. He quietly and peacefully passed away on 24th February 2023. In tributes paid during the funeral Mass on 25th February, it was stated that Fr. Fernandes was an obedient Jesuit and a committed teacher. In his retirement, too, he continued to teach and won the hearts of our estate workers and so, on hearing of his sad demise, some of them from St. Michael’s Estate, Palamalai, came down to attend his funeral. May God grant him eternal rest.
K. A. Augustine, SJ