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Jesuit Father Samuel Rayan SJ, a renowned proponent of liberation theology, died on January 2. He was 98.
He died around noon at Nirmala Hospital, Kozhikode, Kerala, where he was undergoing treatment for old age ailments for months.
Father George Mutholil, Kerala Jesuit provincial, told Matters India that the funeral details will be decided in the evening.
Father Rayan was born on July 23, 1920, at Kumbalam in the Kollam district of Kerala into a family of two girls and six boys. He entered the Kerala province of the Society of Jesus in in 1939. He was ordained a priest on March 24, 1955.
Born in and brought up in a village in Kerala, he devoted many years to the study of Malayalam literature. He mastered Sanskrit and is well read in Indian religions and philosophy.
In 1991, a Festschrift was published in his honor. Bread and breath: essays in honor of Samuel Rayan, S.J., on the occasion of his 70th birth day included contributions by Gustavo Gutiérrez, George Soares-Prabhu, and Jon Sobrino.
Being a radical humanist, Father Rayan was convinced that the human person in community is the object of God’s special love. He spoke for the care of the earth, concern for life and commitment to people. His theologizing is deeply rooted in his life, his land and his commitment to Jesus.
According to Father Rayan, theology is a reminder of the great demands of the Kingdom. For him the central mission of the Christian faith is its insertion into the concrete and daily life of the people, especially of the most marginalized and oppressed members of the social body.
“Rice is for sharing, bread must be broken and given. Every bowl, every belly shall have its fill, to leave a single bowl unfilled is to rob history of its meaning; to grab many a bowl for myself is to empty history of God,” he used to say.