FR. MARI AROKIAM’S FUNERAL MASS HOMILY – 18th SEPTEMBER 2018. 10am Mass at the Chapel of OUR Lady of Good Health, Kg Pandan, Kuala Lumpur

As we gather to mourn at the death of Fr MARI AROKIAM, together with his family and friends, we have come also to celebrate the life and love of our brother and fellow priest. His life can be viewed as having two major chapters:
his active priestly ministry and the seemingly semi-retired man who suffered from his sickness for his last few years.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been quoted as saying we must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.
The last decade or so of Fr Mari’s almost 60 years of life was lived with the sign of “silent suffering”… Now his suffering is finally over. In the evening on Saturday 15/9/2018 on the beautiful Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows (whom he has a fervent Marian devotion) Fr Mari yielded up his spirit and breathed his last!
While it is easier to focus on the active part of his life we acknowledge that the latter years are an integral part of the story of this good man. Our life is like a weaving or tapestry woven through the relationships we form and events that overtake us in the life time given to us by the God who created us.
Death offers a time to remember and retell our stories. We turn to the wisdom and insights of sacred Scripture to help us relate to the mystery of Fr Mari’s life and death.
“My Soul Glorifies the Lord..” Lk 1:46 echos the life of Fr. Mari. This inspiring Gospel verse recited from the Blessed Virgin Mary was chosen by Fr Mari for his Priestly Ordination. These words are also on the chasuble that he is also wearing in the coffin and takes with him. Like the BVM whom Fr. Mari also had fervent devotion, he too did his utmost best to always glorify our Lord Jesus in his daily Christian living and more so in his priestly ministry.

I knew Fr. Mari since the early 1980s when we attended the vocation discernment accompaniment by Fr. Volle at the Church of OMPH in Salak South, KL… this Church is not in existence anymore..!
He did his best and persevered in all his seminary formation and pastoral services for the Lord. He was a talented person in his own ways, friendly, sociable, dedicated in what was assigned to him.
His special talent was his singing and was quite an eloquent speaker, at times quite loud. In the seminary when we had our community fellowship we would usually call upon him to entertain us with his singing. His favourite songs were … ”Baba black sheep” with the Tamil tune and “Child or Anak!”.
With God’s help and guidance we managed to finish our seminary formation and studies at the three locations of the old College General Seminary at Jalan Kelawei, Pulau Tikus, then at Mariophile, and finally at the present College General Seminary at Jalan Cengai, Tanjung Bungah, Penang.
We had St. John Marie Vianney as our patron Saint to turn to especially when we faced challenges and difficulties in our seminary formation. Seminary life was not really easy. There were times of sharing our experiences of, joys, sorrows, difficulties and fulfilments.
He also did his best to live out today’s Gospel on the Beatitudes.
As we come here today we continue to give thanks and praise to God for the priestly life, love and God’s blessings received through his pastoral ministry.
Yes, the reality of death is a mystery that we cannot escape.
When our life’s journey is over we depend ultimately on God and his gracious mercy and so we commend Fr. Mari to the God who re-created in God’s way, in the goodness and holiness of the truth. We believe that God who raised Jesus will not refuse eternal life to Fr Mari. Because he believed, we pray that he will now be the beneficiary of this ultimate gift, to see God face to face and join in heaven those who have gone before him and before us.
Pope Benedict XVI in writing about the faithful departed said they are the happiest of all as they are the faithful ones who like beacons in the night now guide us in our journey through life. The journey can be difficult at times as we make our way through troubled times and difficult challenges.

Fr. Mari was a beacon of light and hope for many in his lifetime as can be seen in the streams of priests, religious, parishioners, friends and others who came to pay their last respect and had encountered him. We believe that he will continue to be a beacon for those who remember him.
On behalf of all of us here I would like to recite this parting poem for Fr. Mari Arokiam, my classmate:

Fr. Mari Arokiam,
You and I will meet again
When we’re least expecting it
One day in some far off place
I will recognize your face
I won’t say goodbye my friend
For you and I will meet again
~Tom Petty

Some people come into our lives and quickly go.
Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.

Farewell! God knows when we shall meet again. ~William Shakespeare

Homily Delivered by : Fr. Raymond Pereira