You are using an outdated browser, some site features may not function as expected. Update your browser for the best viewing experience.

  • Call Us
  • Email Us
  • Follow Us
Bishop's Message

FROM THE HEART...... I re-dedicate myself and my service to God.

I hail from a business family. It was a surprise for many when my parents allowed me to join the seminary in 1981. I was 15 years then, I entered the Minor seminary in Santhome, Chennai on 15th June 1981 for the Diocese of Madras-Mylapore. A that time I did not know what did that mean to be Diocesan or to be a religious. As years passed by, I realised that my call to Priesthood was meant for a Missionary Diocese. I was thinking of going to Africa if my family would allow. In 1987, when my Parish Priest, (Late) Rev. Fr. Kripakaran, suggested me to join the Diocese of Port Blair, I said “YES” spontaneously without knowing what I was saying. I believe that the spontaneous “Yes” at that moment, was not my decision, it was a inspiration by the Holy Spirit. Thanks to (Late) Most Rev. Casimir Ganadikam, the Archbishop of Madras - Mylapore, (Late) Rev. Fr. S.J. Antony Samy, my Spiritual director and (Late) Most Rev. Antony Devotta, in charge of Madras-Mylapore seminarians for encouraging me to follow my conscience. Thanks to Most Rev. Alex Dias for accepting me as a seminarian for the diocese of Port Blair.

I landed in Port Blair on 15th June, 1988. After landing I realised that I entered into a new world, where the people, language, culture, food habits, climate, etc., were all new and different. I think of that first year, what I had to undergo to adjust myself to the new world. It’s an unexplainable mystery and God’s Grace, that 33 years later, the Holy Father chooses me to be shepherd of the diocese, which I love.

During the period of formation, the seminarians need to have good formators. I thank God that I had excellent formators throughout my formation period from 1981-1994. In St. Thomas Minor seminary, Santhome, Chennai, I had the Diocesan fathers, in Sacred Heart Seminary, Poonamallee, Chennai, I had the Salesian and the Diocesan fathers, during my regency, I had the Pilar and Jesuit fathers, in St. Albert’s College, Ranchi, Jharkhand, I had the Jesuits. I believe that the family is the first formation house for everyone, including priests and religious. God gave me good parents, brothers, sister, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, grand-nieces/nephews, other relatives and friends. I am grateful to God for giving me such wonderful formators and family members. I am thankful to all of them who played a vital role in my years of formation.

Once ordained a priest, a priest needs an understanding and supportive Bishop, friendly presbyterium, good religious sisters and the cooperative Laity. I should thank God that I had always good people around me from the day I was ordained a priest on 8th May 1994. One of my formators, who later gave us retreat in the Diocese asked me this question: Visuvasam, are you a happy priest?” My spontaneous answer was “Yes”. I pray that this “Yes” continues to be active till the end of my earthly life.

I acknowledge the great role played by my Bishop, Most Rev. Alex Dias in my life. He knew me through and through as a seminarian and as a priest. He had and still has great trust in me and I, in turn, had and have great respect and gratitude to him. The diocese and I, as his successor would ever remain grateful to him for his role in building up the diocese for over 34 years as a Bishop and earlier 5 years as a Priest.

I acknowledge the contributions of earlier missionaries, initially the Jesuits, then the Diocesan priests from the Archdiocese of Ranchi, the Pilar Fathers from 1965 to 1985, other religious priests and the diocesan priests. The role of the diocesan priests in a diocese is very important. I thank God that the diocese of Port Blair has a good bunch of young diocesan priests. I pray that more and more join this elite group of Diocesan Presbyterium and work towards the building of the Kingdom of God in this Missionary diocese.

I together with the diocese register our gratitude to three women religious congregations who began working in Andamans even before the Diocese was created. After the diocese was created, other women congregations joined in building up the diocese. May God bless all sisters! May God bless all of them abundantly! I thank the Lord and pray for the repose of the souls of fathers and sisters who worked in the diocese and who now enjoy the Company of the Lord in heaven.

The contribution of the Laity is to be acknowledged and encouraged. The Lay participation in the Andaman and Nicobar islands is very much to be appreciated. All of us must encourage the Laity to continue to share in the Common priesthood of Christ in building up the Church in the Andaman. I wish that the Church in the Andaman becomes a ‘Lay centred Mission” in the coming days.

In the past 27 years as a Priest of the Diocese, I was a party in the formulation of the many major decisions of the Diocese. I was also very much involved in the preparation and promulgation of the Diocesan Pastoral Policy, “Puts out into the Deep”, in 2004 and its subsequent update in 2018 (which is waiting for the approval of the Ordinary of the Diocese). I shall continue to follow “the Great Tradition”, set up by the Mission/ Diocese. However the Church in Andaman and Nicobar islands shall ever be ready to listen to the call of the Holy Spirit in reading the signs of the time.

I like to convey my gratitude to the Holy Father and to the ‘Congregation for Evangelisation of Peoples’, for entrusting me with the new responsibility in the Diocese of Port Blair. I re-dedicate myself and my service to God, our Merciful Father, to Jesus, our Saviour and Loving Master, and to the Holy Spirit, our sanctifier. May Mother Mary, the Star of the Sea, the patroness of the diocese of Port Blair guide me and bless me. Trusting on God's providence, I assure every one of my dedication and whole-hearted service in my new Ministry. The announcement of my appointment was made on the 29th June, 2021, the day we celebrate the two great Pillars of the Church, St. Peter, and St. Paul. May their Vigour and Love for Christ guide me and my Mission!

In his recent letter, His Eminence Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, the Prefect of Congregsation for Evangelisation of People, exhorted me to fulfil the expectations of the Church as a Bishop of the Mission Diocese. I assure His Eminence and the others that I will dedicate my life to the Service of the Church, especially to the people entrusted to my care, with due diligence to the Gospel Values and to the Laws of the Church. In dedicating 2015 as the year of Consecrated Life, Holy Father Pope Francis expressed three aims: To remember the past with gratitude, to live the present passionately, and to embrace the future with hope. I wish and pray that these words of the Holy Father ring in my mind and in my heart every day while shepherding the Diocese.

I have chosen, “God Loves a Cheerful Giver” (2 Cor. 9:7b) as my Episcopal Motto. The meaning of my motto is: “Rooted in the Word of God I lift up my hand to the Triune God, to grant me the generosity to give myself to the People of God, entrusted to my care, under the guidance and protection of our Mother, Star of the Sea, like Jesus Who emptied Himself on the Cross through proclamation of the Word and the Celebration of Eucharist.”

Throughout my priestly life, I have tried to be very close to the People and to the Presbyterium. I will continue to do the same in the future, so that the Church in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, emanates the Light of Christ, “ad intra & ad extra”. I pray that the Missionary spirit of the great Apostle St. Paul, whom I consider to be my Patron, be my spirit as well. I wish at the end of my life, here on earth, I may say with St. Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”, (2Tim 4:7).

Visuvasam Selvaraj
(Bishop of Port Blair)