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My Maternal Uncle Fr. A. Anthony (1933 -2000)

Father A. Antony was born on July 6, 1933 in Poolangudi, Tamil Nadu. After his high school studies, he joined the diocese of Tuticorin for priesthood at the age of 18. He was ordained Priest in 1961. Fr. Antony suffered from an eye defect called “Retinitis Pigmentosa” and lost his sight at the age of 38. He was serving as the Diocesan superintendent of schools when this misfortune happened. He visited the best of clinics in the US but to no avail.

Fr. A. Antony was the Founder President of the All India Catholic Federation of the Blind, which began on March 14, 1982. A blind person himself, Fr. Antony was trained at Whitefield, Bangalore and Pittsburgh, USA.

Fr. Antony was a very dynamic person. He turned this tragedy into his strength. He studied the science of service to the blind and learned Braille and other subjects related to their training. And he went a step further. In order to promote the cause of the blind and to prevent them from begging and wandering, Fr. Antony started the “Lucia Service centre for the blind” on 15th August 1978 in Tuticorin under the patronage of Bishop M. Ambrose of Tuticorin. This center was meant for the rehabilitation and training of blind persons, which would promote self-reliance and help them lead a dignified life. The inmates numbering about 30 were trained in handicrafts and Braille.

Fr. Antony had wholeheartedly accepted his blindness and considered it a sign from God to serve the blind and physically challenged persons. He often said, “It is my love for Christ, the light of the world, and for the blind that leads me on.” He became more active and vigorous than before and his compassion for the visually and physically challenged persons was extremely inspiring. Fr. Antony was a ‘blind’ priest with a ‘vision’.

Fr. Antony addressed a group of Bishops in Kerela in May 1982. He spoke to them about the newly formed Federation and his work for the blind. He inspired them all and many of them invited him to their Diocese to begin service centers for the blind.

Fr. Antony started the Jericho Centre for the Blind and Handicapped in Nagamangalam, Trichy in 1984. After his untimely demise after a cardiac arrest in Madurai on January 19, 2000 at the age of 67, his brother, Fr. Jesuraj Anbarasan took over the duties of rendering the responsibilities of the Centre. Fr. Antony’s mortal body remains in a grave at the Jericho Training Centre, Nagamangalam.