This is a website for the members of the Pathyil clan and their friends and well-wishers. After a lapse of several years, we are going to be posting news, views, and pictures pertaining to the family and related topics. At an age when face book, texting and instant messages are the preferred mode of communication, a website may seem superfluous. However we feel that to describe an event, to explain a point of view, to narrate an incident, we need more than a few headlines and a few pictures. We will post pictures. We will also have flash news. But we will include biographies, opinions, reflections and comments. We hope our readers will have the patience and generosity to spend time perusing these also.
The first picture is that of our revered parents: Abraham Pathyil and Naithy Pannivelil Pathyil. The readers will find out about them and their progeny from What Shaped Us, a family history written a few years ago. Though it needs updating, it is a useful source book about the family. The second group picture of the family was taken in May 1952. Of these , only three remain as of November 2014. All things pass, and old order gives place to new. Our descendants carry the torch.
Once again, welcome to Pathyil.com.
BRO. PATRICK – SALT OF THE EARTH
Class of 1983, Montfort, Yercaud
You are the salt of the earth” (Mathew 5: 13). This verse constantly came to mind when I used to visit Bro. Patrick at the St. Louis School For The Deaf & The Blind in Madras. Prior to his arrival at St. Louis, he was my English teacher and dorm in charge at Montfort School, Yercaud.
When I heard of his entering eternal rest, two of Jesus’ sayings immediately came to mind: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I willii set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Mathew 25:21); and “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Mathew 25:34-40).
Bro. Patrick was the coolest of brothers in Montfort. We, the boys, referred to him as Pat. “Hey! Where is Pat?” one boy called out to another, not knowing that Bro. Patrick was within earshot. “I am here!” Bro. Patrick responded, not at all upset with the casual reference. We looked forward to English class – Bro. Patrick made literature fun. His phenomenal knowledge of literature is attested by his sometimes opening remark upon entering the class: “Close your books”. He would then take us on a fascinating literary journey beyond the scope of books, and had us writing creative essays using depths of imagination that we had never plumbed before. An English teacher lives forever in the words the student speaks and writes all his life: a report at work, a letter at home, a poem, or the sheaves of a full-fledged novel, are all manifestations of the teacher.
Bro. Patrick was also the master of sports and athletics at Montfort; he encouraged and instituted physical fitness for even the most sedentary of students. He strongly advocated at least 20 minutes a day of physical exercise. He also ran the Annual Sports Day. Whether class, dorm or sports, or whatever the event, he ran a tight ship with gentleness. I was impressed by this gentle authority, and was reminded of the saying, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). He achieved whole-hearted compliance and cooperation by drawing out our sense of responsibility. He also entrusted us with responsibility by delegating tasks; this lifted one’s confidence as one was finally acknowledged; also, it was nice to be trusted.
He understood teens more than their own fathers: he was in tune with the times, and understood teenage angst and strut. He cared. He truly cared. This endeared him to students, in addition to his being admired and revered. So, it was great news among us ‘old boys’, who were college students in Madras, when Bro. Patrick took over at St. Louis. We used to visit him there as a group. He was always the gracious host; he’d serve us his caring, tales of his latest ventures, and amazing tea. I still remember the teapot, and even then mused that the teapot cover was the only vestige of comfort at St. Louis reminiscent of Montfort. Bro. Patrick was completely at home at St. Louis, and enthusiastically talked of numerous plans for extending the school, and providing greater care for the Deaf & Blind. He talked about meeting with politicians and the like, gaining government support, as well as support from the community. He had already started construction work on campus, having just arrived.
This was a whole new Bro. Patrick – while we, the privileged, basked in his sunshine at Montfort, we had no inkling that there was an ocean of caring in him for the under-privileged. Truly remarkable and mind-boggling were his vision and determination, managerial skills and networking ability, his suave and authority, and his indefatigable energy. He so effortlessly elicited respect from leviathans in politics and in the community that it occurred to me that it was Bro. Patrick who was in command, and the rest were merely doing his bidding. Even then I could tell that if he tugged at my heart strings to loosen up my college student pocket-money for the greater good, that politicians and others would be unable to resist his charming authority and exemplary caring. He drew on their sense of responsibility as he did with us at Montfort. If we revered him before at Montfort, it was now awe and wonder: Who was this person we thought we knew? We were mystified!
When I was admitted to graduate school in Canada, I went to St. Louis to bid Bro. Patrick farewell, and had tea poured out from the teapot kept warm by the teapot cover. He gave me contact details for his uncle in Canada, and insisted that I get in touch with Mr. Joseph Pathyil.
A year after my arrival in Newfoundland, and enroute to a course at McMaster University in Hamilton, I was booked in a hotel in Mississauga close to the Toronto airport. By chance, while aimlessly flicking through my address book, I noticed to my surprise that Mississauga was in Mr. Pathyil’s address. On a whim, and with some trepidation as a total stranger, I dialled his phone number from my hotel room to say Hello. Mr. Pathyil did what Bro. Patrick would have: “Stay right where you are! My son will pick you up in 20 minutes!” I was treated to a fabulous lunch at their home, and their loving kindness.
A year later, when I was moving to Toronto to continue my studies, and had no idea of what I’d do and where I’d stay when I got to the city, I again dialled Mr. Pathyil’s number. “I have secured admission at the University Of Toronto”, I said. Before I could say another word, Mr. Pathyil channelled Bro. Patrick, “My son will pick you up at the airport. Stay at my home until you find a place.” To this day I have no idea what I’d have done on arriving in Toronto, if not for Mr. Pathyil’s kindness and hospitality. Mr. Pathyil came to my aid again a year later, when I was stuck in a sticky academic situation, advising me to talk to the student representative and graduate coordinator at my department. It would never have occurred to me otherwise! This saved my graduate studies, moved me into an excellent lab that allowed me to pit my brains against the very best in the world in that field, and forged my career.
This is all Bro. Patrick’s doing, with his volunteering his uncle’s contact information. If one thinks about it, really, it was Bro. Patrick saving my bacon! I still revel in Bro. Patrick’s kindness when I visit Mr. & Mrs. Pathyil – such wonderful folk; truly, salt of the earth!
As the Psalmist says in the NIV version of Chapter 116, verse 15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants”. Hence, while I grieve over Bro. Patrick’s parting, I realize that he has left behind the toils of this life to enter into eternal rest in the warm sunshine of God’s infinite love.
Bro. Patrick will continue to live in our hearts and our thoughts; and will still find expression in our words and in each of our good, kind and caring deeds.
Rest on, dear Bro. Patrick, for you have certainly earned it!
The proposed family gathering in Smoky Mountain in July is postponed indefinitely for various reasons.
Wedding bells are ringing in Houston, Virginia and New York. Stay tuned!!
All well in Canada and we hope in other places too..
Chris on Bro. Patrick
(A group of students from Australia recently visited India and participated in the work that MCDS is doing. Among the youngsters was the son of Sajimon Varakukalayil. He (Chris) was so impressed with the activities of MCDS, he wrote a moving tribute to his work for the poor.)
Those who have been to the headquarters of MCDS (Montfort Community Development Society) will be familiar with the passion fruit tree that originates from a single stem on the ground floor and has climbed up the face of the building to come to fruition on the balcony. The climbers have formed a canopy that provides a rejuvenating shade to those who care to witness the picturesque view. When one thinks about it, the fruit tree can serves as a symbol of Br. Patrick’s (Isaackunjanja) life.
Under the care and guidance of the great man, MCDS, like the passion fruit tree, has developed from a small grass-roots program to one of the largest charitable groups, not only in Chennai but India itself. Br. Patrick has provided a shade to the vulnerable and has empowered thousands. His care and guidance has allowed individuals to carry out their dreams and lead a self-sufficient life.
Isaackunjanja was my great uncle and I had the privilege of spending Christmas with him on a recent school trip from Australia. Prior to meeting him, I had heard many tales from my father about the work he does and the people he helps, but as the saying goes, ‘It is better to see once than hear a hundred times’. No words or expressions could encompass the amazing work he does. Women’s help centres, schools for the disabled and mobile dental and health clinics are but a handful of the projects that he spearheaded. The legacy he leaves behind is immense. He was truly, a pride of the family and society. In the short visit that I had with him, not only myself but my class mates acknowledged how inspirational Isaackunjanja was. Some went onto say that they ‘wished that they had influential figure such as Br. Patrick’ in their own lives.
He was a beacon of hope and a symbol for change in a world that turns a blind eye to the millions that live in poverty. His demise is a great loss for society. The tears and prayers of millions will follow him to the gates of heaven. God has taken him to heaven, as his job here on earth was complete. Heaven needs an angel like Isaackunjanja … It’s time he took a well deserved break. We will miss you Isaackunjanja.