Fr. Jaya Rajan
Father Jaya Rajan, a 32-year-old Pallottine priest, came to know Jesus as his personal saviour in childhood. So when the opportunity to serve the Lord as a priest presented itself, he jumped at it.
Jaya began attending Mass every day from an early age. It was easy as his house was located opposite the church. As time went on, he began assisting at Mass and spent the bulk of his free time at the church rectory, helping the priests.
Those were the first steps in Rajan's journey toward the priesthood, a journey which ended with his ordination some two years ago.
Many people helped him achieve his noble goal, including Mary, an old sacristan whom he assisted. The woman encouraged him to be faithful to the Lord and inspired him in his journey.
His mother, a lay theologian in the diocese, also played a vital role in Rajan's journey. "Her active participation and the constant guidance in my spiritual journey paved the way to know Jesus more and more."
Rajan, associate pastor at Edmonton's St. Thomas More Parish, was the guest speaker at the monthly prayer breakfast organized by Charismatic Renewal Services at Chateau Louis Hotel Jan. 11.
Born in Kulasekharam, India, in 1982, he entered the seminary in 2000 after completing Grade 12.
After 12 years of formation, he was ordained a Pallottine priest in 2012. Recently his superior appointed him to St. Thomas More Parish for a three-year period.
Jesus, Rajan said, has done a lot in his life. When Rajan was a young boy, Jesus cured his entire family of an unusual disease - a kind of scratching below the knees. As soon as they scratched, the place would become red and a painful wound would develop. "It was so irritating and annoying."
Doctors had no medicine to heal the disease. Neighbours thought it was black magic and said the family should go to a sorcerer or witchcraft.
"But we were trusting only in the providence of the Lord," Rajan recounted. "We prayed with much devotion to St. George and applied the holy oil from the shrine."
To their surprise, the Rajan family - six children and their parents - was healed through the intercession of St. George. "This incident deepened my devotion to St. George and Jesus."
Being the youngest in the family, Jaya was loved by everyone, especially his dad, who wanted him to become an engineer or a doctor.
His father's dream, however, was shattered when a local priest asked his son to join the seminary and the boy agreed.
"My father was not at all happy when I left the home for the seminary," he said. "Whenever I went home for my holidays he used to bring various application forms from (other) colleges."
Rajan prayed to God to transform his father's heart. It worked. When he received his first profession, God made his dad realize that his son's call was from God. "There and then he said to me, 'Go ahead, my prayers are with you.'"
Another thing Jesus did for Rajan was cure his ill mother. Just before his ordination to the transitional diaconate, his mom became seriously ill and was hospitalized. She had to undergo a crucial heart surgery.
It was a hard time for Rajan because his mother wanted to attend his priestly ordination. "Once again the prayers of my family and mine were heard by God and she was out of danger," Rajan told his audience. "She is still alive and doing the work of God."
Another time, God gave Rajan clarity of mind when he most needed it. In a college where he was doing studies for the priesthood, he was awarded the "best student" award by the Hyundai Motor Company and was offered three jobs by information and technology companies.
"My professors were pampering me to take hold of the jobs and leave the seminary," he recounted. "I was disturbed and embarrassed, not knowing what to do."
He eventually surrendered himself to God and prayed. He said God gave him a beautiful verse from the Bible: "No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God" (Luke 9.62). These words of Jesus led Rajan to make a firm decision in his journey toward the priesthood.
Looking directly at the crowd, Rajan said, "Dear friends, since I surrendered my life to the Lord as a priest and began pursuing an intimate relationship with him, I have discovered that he is a good listener. There is nothing we can't talk to him about. He is not shocked by anything we do or say, no matter how trivial it might seem."
Added Rajan: "When we pour our hearts to the Lord, he not only listens to us, but fills us with a fresh sense of hope and sustains us with inner peace and joy."