Fr. Selvaraj's Calling
Father Balappa Selvaraj knows first-hand the blessings and protection received from the Little Flower herself, St. Thérèse of Lisieux. What he didn’t know was that this same saint would eventually guide his vocation and ambitions years later. Father Selvaraj was born in Bangalore, India in the state of Karnataka. With 65 million people in the state, only 2% of the population is Christian.
At age 23, he was a young seminarian, well on his way to living out his faith. He had already completed three years of minor seminary, three years of philosophy and one year of theological study. It was during this time of intense training that he suffered a life-threatening injury from a motorbike accident. Originally taken to St. Theresa’s Catholic Hospital, the young Brother Selvaraj fell into a coma. Doctors predicted a less than 10% chance of survival from the accident. His superior, Bishop Rajappa, from the Diocese of Kurnool, requested the Sisters of the cloistered Carmelite order pray for Father’s healing through the “Novena of the Little Flower.” Additionally, Bishop Rajappa celebrated Holy Mass every day in the cloistered convent chapel. He took the precious blood to the government hospital, where Father lay unconscious, pouring the blood of Jesus into his injured mouth. Bishop Rajappa promised the sisters that if the seminarian were to recover from the coma, he would hold firm on his intention to establish a Little Way association, with this young man as one of his first seminarians.
After eight days of prayer and to the doctor’s disbelief, the young man regained consciousness. Further intentions soon led to his complete recovery and allowed for his ordination shortly after. Bishop Rajappa then began to set the foundations for The Little Way Missioners, planning to send Father Selvaraj to the United States to finish his doctorate in philosophy.
Although the Bishop died shortly thereafter, Father was able to finish his studies in the U.S. with the help of Bishop Moreno and Father Albert Jowdy in Atlanta. Father Selvaraj went on to serve in several parishes and hold the position of Chief Advocate in the Metropolitan Tribunal in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. With the Bishop’s promise still burning and close to his heart, Father Selvaraj wished to follow up on his intention. The Little Flower’s model of spirituality and sacrificial life had a tremendous impact for Father Selvaraj. Nearly 30 years later, the dream finally received the opportunity to become reality through a meeting with Bishop T. Anthony Swamy, who also shared the same vision of building a seminary in Bangalore. With the permission of Archbishop Wilton Gregory from the Archdiocese of Atlanta and patronage of Bishop T. Anthony Swamy of the Chikmagalur Diocese of south India, the project was launched. Archbishop Gregory granted Father Selvaraj five years leave to develop, grow, and establish The Little Way Messengers. Archbishop Gregory fully supports this mission and stated, “For the benefit of the universal Church, I allow you to go.”