Rev. Fr. Dominic Diaz S.J. – A Man for Others 

Professor Manavai P.N.Diaz 


It was Fr. Francis Xavier ‘The Apostle of the Indies’ who, with his raised left hand clutching his cross and his gesticulating right hand summoning people to God, planted the Christian faith at Manapad a coastal hamlet near Tiruchendur. Even after four centuries this faith manifested itself in the family of Susai Esau Diaz and Louisa Monica, for six of their ten children had a Divine call to serve in His vineyard.

Fr. Dominic, the fifth child in the Diaz family was born on 27th October, 1913 at Manapad. After his elementary school education at St. James Parish School, Fr. Dominic joined St. Joseph’s College Tiruchirappalli to pursue his higher studies. From 1934-1936 he was 

in the Papal Seminary at Kandy, run by Jesuits. He entered the Society of Jesus on 31st December, 1936. He had his early training at Shenbaganur, followed by three years Regency at St. Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai and four years Theology at Kurseong. He was ordained at Kurseong on 21st November, 1948. As a young priest he served under Fr. Bonheure in St. Mary’s Parish, Madurai.  

During his fifty-five years of tenure as a Jesuit priest Fr. Dominic had held a variety of Ministries. As the assistant parish priest at Fatima Church, Kodambakkam, as the parish priest at St. Mary’s, Madurai, as the Novice Master at Beschi, as a teacher at St. Stanislaus Training School, as a teacher and the warden at St. Mary’s School, Dindigul, as the Head-Master at St. Xavier’s High School, Tuticorin, and at De Britto High School, Devakottai, as an organiser of Seminars for teachers and priests, as a patron for the Legion of Mary, as the Rector at Tuticorin and Palayamkottai, as a popular district Superior at Palayamkottai, as the Director of Retreats at Dhyana Ashram, as the spiritual guide at St. Xavier’s Palayamkottai and as the confessor to Bishops, Fr. Dominic had rendered yeoman service to the Society of Jesus he so intensely loved.  

An analysis of how six members in a family of ten received the call, which according to Fr. Anselm Miranda S.J. is ‘something which is rare even in Catholic Countries like Spain and France’, is not out of place here. Most Rev. Dr. Arulappa, the then Archbishop of Madras Mylapore in his meaningful message for the Memorial Volume on Mr. Augustine Diaz gives the cue: “At a time when Vocations to the priesthood and religious life are not only diminishing, but even considered irrelevant it is comforting to note that in the family of the deceased, six members have received the call and responded to it, obviously having been encouraged to it by the parents”. Sr. Jeanne Therese L.S.P. Fr. Dominic’s sister in an article entitled ‘Manapad: a Fertile Soil for Vocation’ confirms it. ‘God in His mysterious ways,’ she writes, ‘uses various people as instruments to effect the Divine call: parents, teachers, priest, nuns and a host of others. The parents come foremost in the list; for, Vocation most often is the barometer of a good Christian Family.’ She recalls how her father used to tell them Biblical stories about Abraham, Moses and Jacob and made his children enact the stories every Sunday. Mr. Esau Diaz, being a tailor by profession was the costume designer draping them with the period costumes. Mrs. Louisa Monica Diaz sent prayerful petitions to God asking Him to elect her children to work in His vineyard. She and Mrs. Ignatius Miranda, her daughter, helped them to dress for daily mass. Mrs. Diaz asked them to pray to Jesus imploring Him to make them a priest or a hand-maid of God. Fr. Dominic in an article entitled ‘A Healthy Holiday’ reminisces how during the Christmas vacation each member of the Manapad Students’ League was as busy as a bee taking part in church choir, Christmas Carol Service, Christmas skit and tableaux, moving live Crib, Fancy Dress procession and Sports activities. This busy schedule catered food for their spiritual, intellectual, moral and physical on-going formation. He concludes ‘No wonder in such an atmosphere Vocation to priestly and religious life, too, flourished among our boys and girls.’ 

Fr. Dominic’s memory was phenomenal, especially for names. He remembered the names of every member in the families he visited. He was able to do this because his diary not only served him as an address book but as a genealogical tree, for he meticulously wrote down the names of the members of the family in it.  

While visiting families to share in their joys and sorrows with the help of a willing two-wheeler rider, he proved to be a perfect navigator directing the rider to take the most economical route without diversions as he had a mental itinerary of places to be visited. Through his prompt accessibility to administer the needed sacrament at any time, he truly practised the Jesuit ideal of  ‘Men for Others’ and thereby endeared himself to thousands of Christians.  

Fr. Dominic was a generous soul. He helped many needy people without any pomp and show, following the Biblical injunction ‘Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth’. Those who had received favours from him would gratefully acknowledge this fact. 

Fr. Dominic was a remarkable correspondent. He used to regularly correspond with his friends and relatives. Whenever he left his base for a short sojourn he would meticulously mention his itinerary to his recipients. During his last phase, for several months, his brother Mr. Peter Diaz ably assisted him in promptly writing replies to letters received. The number of Christmas Greetings he received recently speaks volumes of his wide contacts. 

Fr. Dominic had a genuine sense of humour. An example will suffice. Fr. Vitalis Diaz recalls how at a felicitation function he boasted that he had four hands “Valakkai, Idakkai, Valukkai and Pokkai”. 

His aspiration had been the same as that of old Adam: “Master go on; and I will follow thee to the last gasp, with truth and loyalty.” It is significant to note that Fr. Dominic who entered the Society on the last day of December, 1936 after completing a fruitful service in His vineyard for three score and seven years, on the last day of 2003 entered the celestial gates of Heaven where St. Peter would direct him to our Lord who would say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things: Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”  

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