Bridge of Love is still struggling to cope with the loss of Rev Jothy Hoole. He died on the 27th of December 2011 at the age of 56. He was a Christian role model; simple, sincere, dedicated, honest and a man of integrity. He resigned his job as a Mechanical engineer to serve the poor and needy in a remote place called Mannar. He chose to suffer for the sake of Christ’s love. He was an extremely caring and compassionate person. He organised and coordinated Tsunami relief and War relief projects for Bridge of Love.
An heroic modern day saint and evangelist
Jothi Hoole, Pastor, Friend and Loving Father
Uthayatharakai January and February2012
We record with great sadness the passing away of John Ratnajothi Ireneaus Hoole (Feb. 11, 1955 Dec. 27, 2011), the fourth son of the Rev. Fr. Richard H.R. Hoole and Jeevamany Hoole, the youngest daughter of the Rev. Canon S.S. Somasundaram – all of the Church of Ceylon.
It will be recalled that the Rev. Canon Somasundaram, B.A. Calcutta, whose biography was recorded by Bishop Sabapathy Kulandran, was a product of the America Ceylon Mission’s Jaffna College. Both of Jothi’s parents were associated with the undergraduate section of Jaffna College. The Rev. Hoole left his studies during the Second World War to answer the call of the Church when European priests left suddenly and the Bishop of Colombo successfully persuaded him to join the Divinity School in Colombo. Continuing family lines to Jaffna College and the America Ceylon Mission, Jothi’s maternal great-great grandfather Appucutti Kingsbury was Native Professor of Mathematics at Jaffna College and Jothi’s youngest brother Noel is presently the Director of the JC Institute of Technology which was set up by his maternal uncle George D. Somasundaram.
Looking back, like his ancestors, Jothi remained committed to his calling and academic endeavours in many ways. He sat the G.C.E. A Level during the worst period of standardization when there was media-wise standardization with a regional basis that worked against Jaffna Tamil candidates. Despite his results of 2As (in Pure and Applied Mathematics) and 1 C and 1 S, he did not receive admission to any Sri Lankan faculty. So at a time when British fees were only 250 pounds a year (rising to 450 pounds by the time he graduated), still a big sum in Sri Lanka, he was fortunate to read electrical engineering at the University of Birmingham, one of the UK’s older and better universities. Unfortunately his father, the Rev. Hoole, passed away barely a month after his departure and Jothi was unable to attend the funeral because of the financial straits his family was then in. Yet, despite the emotional toll, financially supported by his elder brothers working in Singapore and Nigeria, he did so well that the university wrote a special letter to his alma mater, St. John’s, commending the school for her excellent product and the letter was read proudly by then principal K. Pooranampillai at the school assembly. In 1978, immediately following his graduation, Jothi returned to Sri Lanka at a time when many Tamils refused to return. It spoke to his maturity when he decided to serve the Tamil people at a time when they were put down so badly by their government, instead of making an empty political statement by refusing to return. After working for a year at Gnanam’s as an electrical engineer in Colombo, he moved to the KKS Cement Factory where he rose to be Electrical Works Engineer, living with his since departed mother first in Uduvil and finally in their ancestral house in Nallur. His uncle George Somasundaram had been Works Manager at the Cement Factory in the late 1950s after quitting the University of Ceylon.
Jothi became increasingly involved in the Church, becoming a regular preacher at St. James’ Nallur (where the first Hoole of Point Pedro, baptised by Peter Percival, married at the CMS Nellore Girls’ Boarding School and settled down in the middle of the nineteenth century, and his grandfather, Canon Somasundaram, had been incumbent for 32 years and his father, Rev Hoole, for 12). He was heavily involved with the Youth Group at church and later expanded to be active in Youth for Christ as well. He married Carmini Francis, whom he had met through his YFC work in Chundikuli Some clergymen were able to use his talents in their own ministries for the glory of God and His Church. But others found it difficult when youth sought Jothi with their problems rather than them. Para-churches also demanded that he show full obedience to their leaders when working with them, citing the phrase “troops follow their general without question.” Unfortunately, such an environment cannot hold thinking persons. Over time, pushed out of formal church and para-church structures, his zeal for ministry and compassion for the poor and the many in the Mannar district who had joined the various militant movements and had left them in disillusionment, drove Jothi into independent evangelical work. He devoted himself and his work to the people in Mannar, working closely with Ragavan
Alphonsus, the grandson of another Jaffna College stalwart, Boss Chelliah.
As he was increasingly drawn into his religious work in Mannar, realizing that weekends alone were insufficient, he quit engineering and moved with his young family to Mannar where he worked full-time with limited financial support from the impoverished communities he served through the Church he started, Grace and Truth Church, Mannar. Although he had quit engineering, he used his sharp mind teaching at his brother Muktan’s Baldeus Theological College in Trincomalee, did extensive theological writing, pursuing a Master’s Degree from the UK as a semi-external student.
Life in Mannar would not be easy without a salary or pension base. There are strong parallels in this to his grandfather, The Rev. Canon Somasundaram, who quit his special post as Dean at St. John’s, a position from which he was expected to succeed the then principal, The Rev. Jacob Thompson, in order to carry out an evangelical mission in the Vanni. As the Rt. Rev. Dr. Subramaniam Jebanesan would remark later, Jothi has lived his life “obedient to the heavenly vision.” Indeed life was not easy in Mannar. At the birth of his third child, Elijah, under the care of well-qualified and well-equipped specialist doctors from Médecins Sans Frontièrs at Mannar General Hospital, he lost his wife, Carmini. A routine drug to halt bleeding following successful delivery required a test dose to check for allergic reactions some women have experienced.
Unfortunately, Carmini went into shock from the test dose itself and passed away. As difficult to bear as Carmini’s death were the cruel self-righteous comments of those who never agreed with his decision to quit our settled upper-middle class form of life: that he had killed her by taking her to a place without hospitals. He got through the early years of life with three infants, thanks to the loving care and help of his sister-in-law Baba and mother-inlaw Mrs. Francis. In time he would marry Shreerani Vethavanam of the Irrigation Department in Mannar who gave him a fourth child, Ruth, and a settled family life. Regardless of nay-sayers two of his children, Thabiththa and Elijah ranked No. 1 and 2 in Mannar at Public examinations. Of his brother Muktan’s family, which had joined them in Mannar subsequent to Muktan’s early demise in Trincomalee, a son, Anbesan, ranked No. 1 in the intervening year. A hat trick indeed! Today his eldest daughter, Thabiththa, is at Jaffna’s Medical Faculty reading medicine. It has to be remarked that Anbesan entered Cambridge to read medicine and Raghavan Alphonsus’ son Daniel entered Oxford to read economics, both after going up to the O.Levels at St. Xavier’s, Mannar – something few have matched even from the best schools in Colombo, Kandy or Jaffna, with a strict regime of incessant private tuition classes in every waking hour and being driven to and from classes with all luxuries. To those who believe that all the comforts of life are essential to academic achievements and speaking good English, his children are a true testament that all that is required is a happy home and strong family values. This is perhaps Jothi’s best legacy to all of us.
Jothi’s last years were troubled by the schisms endemic to evangelical churches without the structures that have come to the established Churches through long years of organizational experience. But he coped well and commanded immense respect among his parishioners of some 80 first generation Christians gathering regularly on Sundays and in between for the study of the Holy Scriptures who included many ex-militants who found solace in the message of the saving grace of Jesus Christ which he carried to them. In a testimonial his life well-lived, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Daniel Thiagarajah remarked thus: Please know that he was a true blessing to many. He committed himself fully to the Lord and to His ministry.
Colombo, Sri Lanka. 29th Dec 2011. From a member of the Hoole family.
John Ratnajothy Ireneaus (Jothy) Hoole (b. 1956. d. 2011)
Given below is the final version of what was communicated at the 29th December service held at the Colombo RF Raymond Funeral Parlour, from whereJothy’s body was taken to Mannar for burial on the 30th of December. Hundreds appeared at the Funeral Parlour in Colombo to pay their last respects, the majority being Jothy’s relatives and members of churches in Jaffna when Jothy worked and ministered there for about 10 years. For the 30th Dec 2011 funeral service in Mannar, where Jothy worked as a evangelical Reformed church-planter and Pastor for about 21 years, over 1000 people came from all walks of life.
Jothy Hoole. This is a personal note on my brother Jothy Hoole, the 4th son of late Rev RHR and Mrs Jeevamany Hoole. Jothy died, at the age of 55, on the 28th December 2011, at about 2 a.m. We have come to pay the respect and honour to the body that had carried his soul all these years – and to bid it farewell, as it would soon turn into dust and ashes, until the day when it shall be resurrected by the power and command of the returning Lord Jesus Christ to close all human history, to destroy the present world, to judge all and to create all things new, including this weak and infirm body to be reunited with the perfected soul, to enter into God’s presence in the land of glory.
Childhood. When Jothy was schooling in Nallur, as a young school boy (about 6 or 7 years old) he met with a bad road accident – and was unconscious for several days/weeks at the Jaffna Hospital- but God preserved him until he completed the work He had ordained for him here on earth. Now that work is over, and he is with the Lord Jesus – whom Jothy trusted, loved and served. Amongst the 7 children, it is said that Jothy was the most friendly person, who was large hearted towards people, and cheerful even when there were severe struggles in the journey of life and service.
Engineering. Academically Jothy was outstanding in Mathematics, and a very good practical electrical engineer. At school (St John’s College) there was a specially skilled elderly Mathematics master, retired from Hartley college (I think)- he gave extra mathematics questions to the most brilliant students in the Advanced level classes- amongst whom Jothy was one. The additional questions were from overseas examinations papers, and he would return the answers of Jothy’s with solutions corrected or worked out using alternative methods. The University of Birmingham, where Jothy did his engineering degree, was impressed by Jothy’s abilities and wrote a letter of commendation to mother/StJohn’s. Jothy worked at the cement factory in KKS Jaffna for several years and proved to be a good senior engineer/manager. One of the Civil engineers who worked with Jothy at Cement Corporation/Factory, Jaffna (in early/mid 1980s), wrote the following:
Thank you for passing on the eulogy, Paul. I really got to know Jothy best while working at the Cement Corporation. He was the one who linked me up to work there. He was very popular there as a good manager. ………… It is a very long time since I’ve seen Jothi, and wish I’d met him before he passed away. He was always calm and cheerful.
Bible teacher and Pastor. Jothy resigned from the Cement factory after working there for about 10 years, and went into whole time ministry of the Gospel of Christ, moving to Mannar from Jaffna, with his young family. While working in Jaffna he was already known to be a passionate and faithful teacher of the Bible, in the Protestant Reformed tradition, and had an effective ministry amongst young people and the Anglican, Methodist and CSI Churches in Jaffna. Jothy maintained a personal and consistent walk with God, daily spent time in reading the Bible, in prayer and in reading some of the best of the Christian literature, including old Puritan writings from the 17th century. This was a taste that he developed when doing his undergraduate studies in UK; in fact over the holidays he will come down to Sussex to be with the church (Railway Mission/Calvary Evangelical Church) there which offered sacrificial, caring and spiritually-focused hospitality to many of us overseas students – and one way that Jothy and I would pass time is to visit the second hand bookshops in search of some of these old, classic Christian literature- sometimes having to go into dark, musty attics which stocked old books. According to his wife Shriranee, in his private times with God, Jothy used the hymn book Grace Hymns that I had presented to him many years ago.
Transition. Jothy had four children: Thabitha, Moses, Elijah and Ruth. He loved his children and sought to bring them up in Christ, to work hard and to trust God. As a Christian leader and Pastor, one of his notable personal qualities was giving quality time to others, to listen, counsel and guide them according to the Bible. Jothy had the persevering spirit of our maternal grandfather Cannon Somasundaram (who was a Pastor in the Anglican Church until about 1967). After the first heart attack on the 14th December 2011, God kept Jothy alive with his family until they all gathered together again before God’s throne in prayer and in attentively reading God’s word, the Bible. His family – especially his wife Shriranee- cared for Jothy, as Jothy cared for his father when father had a heart attack (1975) – he cared so well, that father once remarked “You are a good son.” Father found Jothy’s departure to England quite sad, and had the second heart attack soon after my sister and I returned from sending Jothy off at the Colombo airport, and reported on the events of departure.
A testimony. Jothy had his very difficult times in the ministry- but his love for the people remained (especially for those he pastored at the Grace and Truth Fellowship) , as well a forgiving spirit. He is remembered as one that loved God and loved people, he wanted people to know Christ Jesus crucified for us sinners and enter into peace with God. When – yesterday (28th Dec 2011) – one of the younger pastors of the Christian (Dutch) Reformed Church spoke at the service at the Funeral Parlour: saying that God had used the Hoole family to bring in a wide manner the old Gospel of the Bible proclaimed by the Protestant Reformers. He highlighted that Jothy was the Pastor of Pastors, giving counsel, comfort and clarity to their convictions and ministry; a man that loved all that God brought under his spiritual care – and thus his influence was complete and to the whole/full person, and this parting was a painful parting from a man they had come to love, learn from and deeply respect in Christ Jesus.
A family note. It was through Jothy that my wife Chrishanthy and I got to know each other. Chrishanthy remembers him as one that came after them with the good news about Jesus, never giving up on them, lending her good books to read, and through her senior school and University years his influence was formative of her faith. My youngest daughter Elisabeth remembers him as the most cheerful and welcoming of children. My son Ezekiel remembers him praying for him at one of his birthdays celebrated in Colombo. Our eldest, Esther, remembers him for his big smile, with one eye brow raised and a warm voiced greeting. I remember him as the brother closest to me in age, learning together, fighting at times, hunting for books that we each loved, receiving counsel, and encouragement. The only sister we have out of the 7 children, Tamari, remembers his words of comfort when they were living in tensed times of bombs being dropped over Jaffna; Jothy told them not to fear, because until the Sovereign God Who has a work for each one to do will keep us; and only when that work is completed He will call us through the door of death, into His own presence and to His happy, eternal country.
Truly alive. Jothy is dead and no more with us here on earth. But he is today far more alive than he ever was here on earth. Jothy is in the heavenly country of the living God, he has now seen directly the Saviour Jesus he loved while on earth, serving Him there far better than here, seen his father, mother, Carmini and brother (Charles/Muktan)- and the faithful that have gone before him – waiting for his wife, children, and his desire will be to see each one of you here present – to be reconciled to God through His Son Jesus Christ, the God-given sacrifice for us and our sin, our guilt. Rejoicing ever in the Lord Jesus!
Professor Dr. Paul RP Hoole, D.Phil. Eng. Oxford Univ., 5th son of Rev RHR and Mrs. Jeevamany Hoole