By Joyce Gan

Father Annasamy Amalraj returns to India to receive treatment for cancer of lymph nodes

The Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea bade goodbye to Father Annasamy Amalraj on Dec 15. Father Amalraj has returned to his hometown in Salem, India to seek treatment for cancer in the lymph nodes.

Father Amalraj came to Singapore in January 2003 filled with confidence in God's plan for him here; he left with this confidence unshaken.

Although his cancer is painless, it has nevertheless left him "half the man I used to be", he joked about his loss of weight; meanwhile his faith has increased multifold. Both can be attributed to contemplative praying that Father Amalraj practises twice a day - one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening.

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"All my negative thoughts and emotions go up in the sky and I transcend the world to be in God's presence," was Father Amalraj's explanation of the healing effects of contemplative prayer on him. This form of surrender has helped him to come to terms with his sickness. "I am not scared or sad about my sickness," he affirmed.

"I don't ask God why - I just willingly accept it. Everyday, I surrender my negative emotions sweetly and completely," he said with no regret, no resentment and no bitterness against his sickness. Father Amalraj also believes that this meditation will heal him. It already brings him the "experience of salvation".

The discovery of his illness came about a month ago when he went to see a doctor after coughing for more than two weeks. The doctors at the clinic thought he might have dengue and sent him to Mount Alvernia Hospital for a blood test; the test ruled out dengue. A biopsy at the Singapore General Hospital showed he had Mantle Cell Lymphoma in the early stages.

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The Paris Foreign Missions (MEP) in which Father Amalraj belongs, gave him the option of undergoing chemotherapy in Singapore, India or France. He chose India, his home. If possible, he would try Ayurvedic treatment too.

Ayurvedic treatment uses only herbs, something that he agrees with, as he has adapted to a vegetarian diet these days. He had started this diet to avoid eating meat as it contains a lot of toxins. He took well to it, feels healthier and no longer drinks coffee. He feels more spiritually relaxed with his new lifestyle and said that without it, he experiences body pain.

Father Amalraj used to meditate on Psalm 91:14-15 which speaks of God's promises to "rescue all who cling to me, protect whoever knows my name, answer everyone who invokes me…"

"Our God is a God of promise and I believe these promises will become a reality in my life and I believe that these promises have already started working in my life," he said confidently.

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Father Amalraj was ordained in 1980 and had served in the Diocese of Salem for 21 years before he joined MEP at age 48. "I had wanted to go out of my country to work on missions but I never thought I'll be sent to Singapore," he recalled.

Most of the time here in his parish, he  counselled parishioners who have problems. Although Father Amalraj shared that he will miss "all the good people here, my good parishioners", he recognises that God has a different plan in store for him. "God is prepared to send me elsewhere [now]," he concluded with hope.

"I know God has a good plan for me but I don't know what it is. I have to wait and see. I am sure

and certain that I will be healed and I will be used by God."

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