Fr S J Berchmans
Aug 03, 1949
Father.S.J.Berchmans is a song evangelist, a worship leader, a man of joy and the founder of Jebathottam Ministries. He is always kindly referred as “Father” or “Appa” among Christian circles. He is called so not because of his rootness in Catholic but because of his fatherhood in spirit. He is an influential leader loved and cared by all Christians, denominations and religious people. His songs are being a blessing for all Christian congregations, which heal and bind the broken heart and life of literates and illiterates.
Berchmans was born on August 3, 1949 in Soosaipatti, a small village near Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram district, Tamil Nadu, India. His parents were farmers, and were devout Catholics. Berchmans was the youngest of five children- elder sister, two elder brothers and one younger brother. He has completed his middle school in “Thiruvarangam” a village nearby and high School in St.Mary's Higher Secondary School, Madurai.One of his aunts was a Catholic nun. Right from his childhood days, his sister who was also a nun was influential in making him lead a holy and God fearing life. As a youth he used to sing in the Church choir. He has had basic training in Carnatic and Western musical systems. After completing his high school education, he intended to become a Catholic priest and joined a Catholic seminary. Hence on completion of his schooling, he joined a Bible college in Trichy. On completion of his studies there, he was ordained as a Priest in the year 1970. While in the seminary, he improved his musical skills and by the time he became a priest, he had become well known as a good singer in the local Church circle.
Fr. Berchmans started his ministry as a Catholic Priest in Satharasanpatti near Sivaganga, Tamil Nadu in 1978. While performing his duties as a priest, he developed a longing to do something more creative. He is said to have experienced a spiritual transformation in 1983 in a meeting organised by DGS Dhinakaran, another well known Tamil evangelist. He later began organising evangelical meetings, and composing and releasing Christian worship songs, which were received well by Tamil Christians who found the "voice...new...(and) melody...different". A land of about 5 acres was donated to his ministries by the villagers of Kalayar Kovil near Madurai. He established his "Jebathottam Trust" in the area, which now hosts an auditorium with a seating capacity of 2000, a 24-hours prayer chamber, board and lodging facilities and a shelter for helpless women. 'Jebathottam' is a Tamil word meaning "Prayer-Garden".