Society Matters | Volume 29 No. 2 | Winter 2019

Volume 29 No. 2 | Winter 2019 8 Society Matters A Newsletter of the Divine Word Missionaries Inc - Australia Province Donations to the SVDAUS Province Overseas Aid Fund can be made online at or by mailing to Divine Word Missionary Appeal Office, Locked Bag 3, Epping NSW, 1710, Australia. svdaus @svdaus From the Philippines to Myanmar; new assignment “a great privilege” The newest member of the SVD’s mission team in Myanmar, Fr Devasagayam (Deva) Savariyappan SVD, has spent the last 25 years of his life as a missionary in the Philippines, but says he is looking forward to the new challenge ahead. “It is a great privilege given to me by God through the Society of the Divine Word to go to another mission and people and continue to bring his Kingdom among them through the Word,” he says. Fr Deva was born in Tirupattur in Tamil Nadu, India and was raised in a parish run by the Salesians of Don Bosco and educated at a Salesian school. It was my Salesian parish priest who first sowed the seed of vocation to the priesthood in my young heart,” he says. However, it was the Divine Word Missionaries who grabbed Fr Deva’s imagination after leaving school and entering the St Charles Minor Mission Seminary in Trichy City in Tamil Nadu in 1982. He took his final vows in 1991 in the Divine Word Seminary in Pune City and was ordained to the priesthood in May 1992, in his home parish of Mary Help of Christians in Tirapattur. Two months later, Fr Deva took up his first assignment as a Divine Word Missionary, to the Philippines. “My ministry in the Philippines has been very colourful and fulfilling,” he says. “Though I spent most of my life there in parish ministry, I was very much involved in the school apostolate too, and served as Campus Minister in the SVD-administered Divine Word College in Abra. “During those years of my life in the college, apart from being the chaplain, guidance counsellor and spiritual director to the students, I was also involved in the prison apostolate and hospital ministry.” Fr Deva served on the Central Diocesan Board of the Diocese of Bangued for almost 10 years and served one term as Director of The Biblical Apostolate of the Diocese, as well as carrying out a media ministry. “I had a program called ‘Reflection’ on the diocesan radio station for over 20 years,” he says. “This psycho- spiritual program ran for one hour every Sunday and had a tremendous following, hence its continuity for such a long period of time.” Fr Deva says that when he looks back on his time in the Philippines, it is the people who stand out in his mind. “There is no mission without people,” he says. “To have come to know different people, their different attitudes and personality, and to get along with them in spite of the many differences, is itself a mission. “It was a beautiful experience to be with the people who are not of my country or culture or language. It was a wonderful feeling to be loved by people who considered me as a son, brother or a member of their own family. Fr Deva says while he didn’t seek the new assignment in Myanmar and was surprised when he was approached to take it on, he is looking forward to the new challenge. “I was taken by surprise,” he says. “I didn’t want to disappoint the trust placed in me by the General Council in Rome and I accepted the challenge to go there.” Fr Deva will join the SVD mission team already at work in Myanmar, focusing on the Biblical Apostolate at the invitation of the local Archbishop, Cardinal Charles Bo SDB. “I love the word of God,” Fr Deva says. “My hope is that I will be able to share and live with the people the ‘Joy of the Gospel’ as the Holy Father, Pope Francis puts it.” Fr Devasagayam Savariyappan SVD Fr Deva with local children in the Philippines