Thousands bid tearful farewell to Swamy Dayanad
BELLARY, 23 JAN 2023:

Swamy Dayanand OFM, a mendicant “sadhu” who walked in the footsteps of his Master Jesus Christ and St Francis of Assisi with simplicity and austerity, went to his eternal reward on Sunday, 22 Jan, 2023.

Born as Jose Malekudiyil, in Kerala on 19 June 1950, entered the order of Franciscan Minors in 1970, was ordained priest on 13 Dec 1975 by Bishop Ambrose P. Yeddanappali OFM, his brother in Franciscan order and Bishop of Bellary.

All through his 46 years of priestly life he lived and served the people of Diocese of Bellary, sharing God’s compassion and blessings.

He respected neighbours’ religions and promoted human fraternity and unity.

Swamy said that he had a “Call within a Call”, and heard the voice of Jesus in 1976, in the first year of his priesthood. As per the claim, Jesus asked him to change his name and colour of his Franciscan habit. Subsequently, he changed his name with the permission of is provincial and Bishop of Bellary as Swamy Dayanand which indicates his mission of compassion, joyful proclamation, which Jesus entrusted to him.

Ever since, he carried forward, come what may, the mission of compassion, by visiting households in the villages, barefooted carrying only Bible and his begging bowl.

Right after his ordination, for about an year, open evangelization work was entrusted to Swamy Dayanand in Hospet, Kampli, TB Dam and Munirabad areas. He was fluent in all the four Dravidian languages namely Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada.

On 11 August, 1977 Bishop of Bellary entrusted Mission Ad gentes in Siruguppa, Sirigeri, Kurugodu and Sindhanur camps to Swamy Dayanand. His two Franciscan brother priests Frs. Vargheese and Francis joined him. They carried forward this work till 1985.

His first task was to buy a small plot with a hut in Bandral Camp, Siruguppa Taluk. This was used as his residence and chapel. He managed funds from begging from kith and kin.

Swamy Dayananda realized that true evangelization is possible only if one humbles oneself to the level of people.

People came flocking to him for his "saffron attire, simplicity, availability, humility and friendliness."

People flocked to hear the Word of God from Swamy carrying food grains and the Bible.

In 1995, Swamy Dayanand and his companions approached Bishop of Bellary for a small piece of land for a Franciscan Ashram.

The Bishop of Bellary gave a land next to Vianney Vidyalaya and adjacent to Bellary Arogya Mathe Shrine, Cantonment, Bellary. People in the neighboring locality of Netaji Nagar, Satyavani Nagar, Indira Nagar etc began to frequent his Ashram on daily basis.

Thus Dharmodaya Seva Ashram began as an initiative of Swamy Scaria Varanath and Swamy Dayanand. Slowly the ashram became a place of God’s living presence in the midst of people. Ashram gate was open 24 hours to all people irrespective of religion, caste, language. Any person and were welcomed, even to stay free of cost for about a week. Mostly people with mental stress come there seeking solace. They experienced inner strength to face their problems while staying at Ashram and were sent home with inner healing and peace of mind. Bishop Joseph D’Silva used to comment that Swamy Dayanand may not fit into the traditional norms of priesthood in Catholicism, but he certainly fits into the true discipleship of Jesus," the bishop added.

He was instrumental in bringing about 300 families to Christ. He was convinced the Baptism is essential and there is no compromise on it. At the same then he did not insist people to change culture or lifestyle. He always insisted that we disciples of Jesus need conversion to fit into Indian-ness.

Swamy Dayanand started helping people with alcohol addiction problem to get out of their dependency using herbal de-toxicant, prayer and spiritual guidance from 2008. The VIMS Medical College has tied up with the Ashram, conducting blood tests to check liver condition. Every year over 100 persons benefited from this de-addiction programme.

Fr. Dayanand had a major heart surgery on 13 October, 2008, helped by Bishop Henry D’Souza, Bishop of Bellary. Ever since his health condition became fragile and memory started failing partially. But his day to day Ashram life was carried on. People flocked to listen to him. He counseled them.

At the end of his life, Swamy Dayanand was ill for about two weeks. He was admitted to the local St. Mary’s Hospital in Bellary on 11 January, 2023 following a mild stroke.

From there he was taken to St. John’s Medical College Hospital, Bangalore. He received treatment there for about 10 days. Eventually his vital organs began to fail. On 22 January 2023 about 9.00 am Swamy surrendered his life to Satguru Yesu from his death bed in Bangalore.

His mortal remains were kept for public respect in St. Antony’s Friary Church, Bangalore. On 23 January at 7.30 AM a concelebrated Holy Eucharist was led by Bro. Fr. Xavier Durairaj OFM, Minister Provincial and other Brother Franciscans concelebrated Holy Eucharist.

Thereafter at the request of Bishop of Bellary and people of Bellary the mortal remains were brought to Bellary by afternoon to Dharmodya Ashram, Cantonment, Bellary. Hundreds of his disciples irrespective of caste or creed bade him a teary farewell. The funeral Mass and rites were held at St. Antony’s Cathedral, C.B. Bellary at 4.15 PM led by Bishop Henry D’Souza, Bishop of Bellary along large number of priests in the presence of Religious and thousands of people.

His mortal remains were interred at Priests Cemetery, Roman Catholic Cemetery, Cowl Bazaar, Bellary. Many of Swamy’s well wishers have a desire to erect a bust of Swamy Dayanand at the Ashram premises at the earliest.

Ms Sagayam, Bishop’s House, Bellary

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