Though Fr. Maria Jeyaraj was infirm for quite a long time, his death was quite unexpected. On 28th May, he was taken from Beschi Infirmary, Dindigul, and admitted in St. Joseph Hospital. At 3:15 a.m. on the following day, 29th May 2021, he peacefully breathed his last. His burial together with that of Fr. Lawrence Maria Gabriel took place in the Beschi cemetery with a restricted group of people because of the COVID lockdown.
From 1968 to 1976, Fr. Jeyaraj served as the Director of St. Peter’s Minor Seminary, Madurai. From 1975 to 1978, he was at Beschi Illam, Dindigul, first as Minister, then as a Teacher of Tamil and lastly as the Socius to the Novice Master. His love for the Tamil language and culture, Tamil bhakti literature and his ability to sing Tamil classical hymns with devotion, were commendable.
He had a short stint as an ashramite at Aikiya Alayam, Chennai (1978-1981). Later, after a break of six years, he went again to Aikiya Alayam and remained there till its closure in 1998. He was taken up with the style of ashram life and interreligious dialogue which he held on to, till his death. During the long period when he resided at Thozhamai Illam, Kanyakumari, he carried on the ministry of interreligious dialogue, and served also as the Secretary of Interreligious Dialogue in Kottar Diocese. From Kanyakumari, he used to go to Chennai every month to carry on the dialogue ministry for a group that had been formed by Fr. Ignatius Hirudayam, to whom he felt greatly indebted. He continued his dialogue ministry during his years of retirement in Beschi, by writing a few pamphlets on the subject. Wherever he was and whatever be his field of labour, he was a humble, committed and tireless worker for the Greater Glory of God.
Dhanaraj Raphael, SJ