Arulanathu.jpgFather Sebastian Arulanathu leaves for Tamil Nadu after five years in Singapore.

Left, Father Arul pens a thanksgiving note to Archbishop Nicholas Chia and his fellow priests at Our Lady of Lourdes parish.

SINGAPORE - Parishioners of Church of Our Lady of Lourdes together with migrant churchgoers - some 2,000 of them are expected - will bid Father Sebestian Arulananthu farewell when he leaves Singapore for Tamil Nadu, India, on May 28.

Parishioners of Church of Our Lady of Lourdes together with migrant churchgoers - some 2,000 of them are expected - will bid Father Sebestian Arulananthu farewell when he leaves Singapore for Tamil Nadu, India, on May 28.

Father Arul was posted here to minister to Tamil-speaking Catholics five years ago. Father Arul will serve as parish priest in Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Tamil Nadu. He says that he is looking forward to the new challenge but is also worried about the different culture there and also the pervasive poverty and presence of religious calumny. This will be rather different from Singapore where he has "greatly experienced and enjoyed the unity in this diversity" of cultures.

The Archdiocesan Commission of the Tamil Speaking Apostolate held a farewell party recently for Father Arul. "He was very well-connected to the people, down to the ground level; not only with migrants but also with parishioners," says the organization's chairman, Adolph Dorairaj. "We're definitely going to miss him."

In an open letter to the community here, Father Arul says, "I will always cherish the sweet memory of Singapore, the support and guidance of Archbishop Nicholas Chia, all the diocesan priests, the fellowship of the religious and love and friendship of the lay people." He is especially thankful to Father Aloysius Doraisamy and Father Augustine Joseph.

"When I left India to Singapore, I was a little anxious and worried and again the Word of God (in particular, Phil 4:13 - 'I have the strength to face all conditions by the powers that Christ gives me' that has encouraged, guided and strengthened him all his life) came to my rescue," he says.

"Though I came to serve the Indian Tamil community in Singapore, all others also were very friendly and I felt at home." "I have a lot of Chinese friends and also among the Hindus and Buddhists. Mostly the Chinese are the ones who often invite me whenever there was a need and they extend their support and help often to the migrants."

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