“After completing his intermediate at St Joseph’s College, Tiruchy, he came and informed me about his vocation and expressed his willingness to join as an aspirant in the Jesuit order. I said ‘yes’ without any hesitation as I am aware that he should have decided to join the congregation after applying his heart and mind. And so he joined the Jesuit order as an aspirant in 1957 at Dindigul and completed his novitiate there, said Hirudaya Swamy, who along with his children and grandchildren, is living at their ancestral house at Viragalur village in Pullambadi, Tiruchy.
“After spending four years in Dindigul, he informed us that he was selected to travel to the Philippines and so he went there in 1962 and his ordination took place there in 1970 and the next year he returned to India with a great plan — that of serving the poor and marginalised. He got the inspiration to work for the Adivasis from Rev Dr Helder Camara, a Brazilian Catholic ArchBishop who stayed in the Philippines when Stan was there,” said Hirudaya Samy.
Stating that it was not a surprise to the family that Stan opted to work for the Adivasis and Dalits in Jharkhand, he said: “I know, he will do what is good to others and practice what his heart says.”In a lighter vein, Hirudaya Swamy recalled that his father Lourde Swamy had given strict instruction to all the children not to take bath in the canal flowing through the village. “We all obliged, but Stan Swamy took bath there for an experience. As our father was scolding him, even at that young age, he was explaining to the family that he wanted to mingle with the poor who mainly use the particular canal,” he said.
“After his priesthood and service in Jharkhand, he used to have short visits to our home and narrate the sufferings of the people in Jharkhand. He did not tell us about his active participation as we were afraid about the conditions in North India. But we were sure that he will do only what is good,” he said.
The family members stress that he never had anything for himself. “The only thing he used to have was just a Jolna bag in which there would be just three pairs of dresses, that too usually torn. He does not even have his own cassock and he used to borrow it from the local priests while conducting masses. Whenever we opt for him to get a new dress, he strongly refuses and never receives money from us for his expenses,” said Stan Swamy’s niece.
“He used to ask us to share the money with the poor and experience real happiness,” added Hirudaya Swamy, on a tender note.
In 2010, when he came to the village, we told him to get some rest like his companions who used to retire from social life and stay at homes run by the congregation when they turn 75. Even the priests from our village used to suggest he retire but he used to say he has many things to complete in Jharkhand and so will serve them until his death.
“Thus he chose the way of the Lord and led his life full of struggles. We are proud that he led a life of a true Christian and set an example to others, and we are proud of him, added Hirudaya Swamy.