//Fr. Jeyaseelan Thomas Barnabas, SJ (MDU) 1952-2022

Fr. Jeyaseelan Thomas Barnabas, SJ (MDU) 1952-2022

Fr. Jeyaseelan was born on 1st June 1952. Hailing from Sivagangai Diocese, the mission land of St. John de Britto, he was inspired to join the Society of Jesus on 1st June 1970.

Motivated by his social action experience during regency, he became the first Jesuit in the province to do B.L. at the Government Law College, Madurai, secured a rank and enrolled as a professional lawyer in 1983.

He belonged to the first batch of ARUL GRAM (Rural Theology). They migrated from Arul Kadal in Chennai, to Malligapuram, for simple living and subaltern thinking and finally got ordained in the same village on 1st May 1986.

After his Licentiate in Canon Law (Gregorian University, Rome, 1991-’94), he taught for a year at Vidyajyoti, Delhi, before  returning to Rome and completing his doctorate in 1998 on the topic ‘Human Rights of Dalit Christians and the Code of Canon Law.’ After that he continued teaching at Vidyajyoti and Arul Kadal.

Realizing the urgency for coordinating the legal works in the Province, he founded LAAS Centre (Legal Action, Advocacy and Services), Madurai, in 2005. To enable ordinary people to access law, he was the brain behind initiating para-legal training which produced over 150 legal guides in Tamil Nadu. He assisted the Madurai Province in formulating and revising periodically the working conditions and salary structure of domestic employees.

As a Canonist, he served as a judge in the Metropolitan Tribunals of the Archdioceses of Delhi and Madurai, and later helped to frame the MOU between TN Bishops Council and TNPCRI for establishing new religious houses and regularizing existing contracts. Various Religious Congregations gratefully remember him for his expert guidance during their Chapters, in amending their Constitutions or getting approval as Institutes of Pontifical Right.

Although he had long been ailing with numerous infirmities, his sudden demise on 26th January 2022, came as a shock. May God grant him Eternal Rest.

A. Santhanam, SJ