Father Herman Jayachandra remembered for his zeal and steadfast faithfulness

Late Indian priest spent majority of priesthood serving in Denver and was passionately committed to saving souls, serving others

Father Hermanagild Jayachandra, a priest from the southern tip of India who served the Archdiocese of Denver for 25 years before retiring in 2012, died in his homeland May 2. He was 77 years old. 

Affectionately called “Father Herman” by his parishioners, he was a seasoned priest in his 40s when he began ministering in the archdiocese in 1987. He had fled his homeland because his life was in danger from extremist groups who didn’t like his spreading Christ in the predominantly Hindu nation, where Christians — mostly Catholics — comprise just over two percent of the population.  

Born April 13, 1944, in the coastal village of Kanyakumari (also called Cape Comorin) to Peter and Philomina Jayachandra, he was the eldest of five children. The Jayachandras, devout Catholics for generations — the Church in India traces its founding to St. Thomas the Apostle, who preached the Gospel in what is modern-day Kerala in 52 A.D. — counted several priests among their relatives. Following in their footsteps, he was ordained for the Diocese of Kottar on Dec. 20, 1968. He was 24. 

“The day of my ordination was the happiest day of my life,” Father Jayachandra told the Denver Catholic Register in 1988.  

He initially labored as assistant pastor and then pastor at several large parishes in his home diocese. In addition to evangelizing, he had a love for serving the poor and also ministered as an exorcist.  

“I want to save souls and give myself in the service of others,” he told the Register, describing his priestly mission in India and in his then-newly-adopted land.  

He tirelessly continued that mission throughout his priesthood.  

In the Archdiocese of Denver, Father Jayachandra may be best known for his 15 years leading St. Martin de Porres Parish in Boulder, starting in 1997 as administrator and serving from 1998 to his retirement as pastor. During his time there, he built a perpetual adoration chapel.  

He had previously served as assistant pastor or parochial vicar at the parishes of St. Joseph in Fort Collins, St. Thomas More in Centennial, and Good Shepherd in Denver. In 1992, Father Jayachandra became a U.S. citizen. In 2006, he added a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree to his bachelor’s degree in catechetics and pastoral theology. 

“He was a really holy priest,” said Deacon Steve Stemper, president of The Catholic Foundation, who knew Father Jayachandra from his time at St. Thomas More. “He was very aware of the spiritual battles that we’re in with the evil one. He knew Satan was real.” 

He was also a good friend who had a fun personality, the deacon added, one aspect of which was an affinity for spicy food. 

“When we had dinner, the food we prepared was never as spicy as that of his Indian heritage,” Deacon Stemper said, chuckling, “so he would bring his own spices to liven it up.” 

Ralph Lidge affirmed his former St. Martin de Porres’ pastor’s love of fiery food, his deep spirituality, warm friendship and commitment to healing suffering, whether physical, material or spiritual. 

“He was a straight shooter,” Lidge said. “He was a spiritual resource for many people. He was a very good counselor and advisor.” 

 Father Jayachandra began a commitment to helping the poor in India early in his priestly ministry. While in the United States, he realized he could connect those here desiring to help with his compatriots in need. His India Projects Fund at St. Martin de Porres aided a host of worthy causes ranging from education, to food, housing, training, medical supplies via Project Cure, and related building projects. Especially meaningful to Lidge, who was a member of the India Projects Fund council, was a homeless shelter the fund helped build in south India. 

“That was exciting,” Lidge said, adding that a plaque with donors’ names was sent to the facility where it was placed on a wall. “In 2015, after some time had passed, I was in that shelter and looked at the plaque. It was a brief but wonderful visit. 

 “A lot of people adored Father Herman because of who he was,” asserted Lidge, “his humility and his candor.” 

“Father Herman became like family for us, for my husband and I,” said Monika Meile, a convert to Catholicism and Father Jayachandra’s longtime parish secretary. “We were devastated when he left [to return to India]. We stayed in touch every day.” 

Among the many qualities Meile admired about her former pastor was his zeal to announce the Gospel door-to-door. 

“Father Herman went evangelizing weekly,” she said. “A lot of times people would just slam the door in his face, but he brought a lot of people back to the faith — and to the faith. That was a big thing for him. It was just amazing. He was never discouraged.” 

Due to medical problems, Father Jayachandra retired from priestly ministry for the archdiocese at age 68 and relocated to Tiruchirappalli, India, where he lived with a widowed brother-in-law the last nine years of his life.  

“He passed away quietly at home,” his nephew Leo Leslin told the Denver Catholic via phone from his home in Bahrain, India. “He was bold, and he dedicated his life to the salvation of people and the kingdom of God. He was completely faithful to God.” 

“He loved the Church, he loved Jesus Christ and he loved his priesthood,” declared Deacon Stemper. 

Lidge concurred. 

“I’m sure he’s continuing to do good work on the other side.” 

Requiem Mass for Father Herman Jayachandra 
5 p.m. Wednesday, May 19 
St. Martin de Porres Church 
3300 Table Mesa Dr., Boulder 

COMING UP: Colorado Catholic Conference 2021 Legislative Recap

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On June 8, the First Regular Session of the 73rd General Assembly adjourned. Over 600 bills were introduced this session. Policy primarily focused on transportation, agriculture, healthcare, fiscal policy, and the state budget. However, the legislature also considered and passed many bills that could impact the Catholic Church in Colorado.  

Some bills that were passed will uphold Catholic social teaching and protect the poor and vulnerable of our society while others pose potentially harmful consequences to the Catholic Church, its affiliated organizations, and Colorado citizens who wish to practice their well-founded convictions. There were also many bills that were considered by the legislature that did not pass, including two bills that would have upheld the sanctity of life and two that would have expanded education opportunity for K-12 students.  

The Colorado Catholic Conference (CCC), as the united voice of the four Colorado bishops, advocated for Catholic values at the Capitol and ensured that the Church’s voice was heard in the shaping of policy.  

Below is a recap of the CCC’s 19 priority bills from the 2021 legislative session. For a full list of the legislation the Conference worked on, please visit: https://www.cocatholicconference.org/2021-legislative-bills-analysis/  

For regular updates and other information, please sign-up for the CCC legislative network here.  

Six bills the CCC supported that were either passed or enacted

Note: Passed means the bill was approved by both chambers of the legislature and is pending the governor’s signature as of June 9, 2021. Enacted means the bill was signed by the governor and became law.  

HB 21-1011 Multilingual Ballot Access for Voters – Passed  
If enacted, counties where either 2,000 adults or 2.5% of the adult population primarily speak a language other than English will be required to provide a ballot in that language. 

HB 21-1075 Replace The Term Illegal Alien – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1075, the term “illegal alien” was replaced with the term “worker without authorization” as it relates to public contracts for services.  

SB 21-027 Emergency Supplies for Colorado Babies and Families – Passed  
If enacted, the state government will allocate much-needed funding for nonprofit organizations to provide diapers and other childcare necessities to families in need, including Catholic Charities.  

SB 21-077 Remove Lawful Presence Verification Credentialing – Enacted    
With the enactment of SB 77, verification of lawful presence will no longer be required for any applicant for a license, certificate, or registration, particularly in the job fields of education and childcare.  

SB 21-146 Improve Prison Release Outcomes – Passed  
If enacted, SB 146 will establish practices that ease the transition back into society for formerly incarcerated persons.  

SB 21-158 Increase Medical Providers for Senior Citizens – Passed  
If enacted, SB 158 will allocate more funding for senior citizen care, which is currently understaffed and underfunded.  

Eight bills the CCC opposed that were passed 

HB 21-1072 Equal Access Services For Out-of-home Placements – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1072, Colorado law now prohibits organizations that receive state funding for placing children with adoptive or foster parents from discriminating on, among other things, the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or marital status. This new law will likely to be impacted by the imminent Fulton v. City of Philadelphia U.S. Supreme Court decision. 

HB 21-1108 Gender Identity Expression Anti-Discrimination – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1108, “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” are now recognized as protected classes in Colorado nondiscrimination code. This may have serious religious liberty implications for individuals and organizations that wish to practice their well-founded convictions on marriage and human sexuality. 

SB21-006 Human Remains Natural Reduction Soil – Enacted 
With the enactment of SB 006, human remains can now be converted to soil using a container that accelerates the process of biological decomposition, also known as “natural reduction.” 

SB 21-009 Reproductive Health Care Program – Passed 
If enacted, SB 009 will create a taxpayer funded state program to increase access to contraceptives.  

SB 21-016 Protecting Preventive Health Care Coverage – Passed 
If enacted, the definition of “family planning services” and “family planning-related services” will not be clearly defined in law and could potentially include abortion. Furthermore, SB 16 removes the requirement that a provider obtain parental consent before providing family planning services to a minor.  

SB 21-025 Family Planning Services for Eligible Individuals– Passed 
If enacted, SB 025 low-income women to be given state-funded contraception, “preventing, delaying, or planning pregnancy” services, which includes cessation services and sterilization services.  

SB 21-142 Health Care Access in Cases of Rape or Incest– Enacted  
The enactment of SB 142 removes the requirement that, if public funds are being used, a physician must perform an abortion at a hospital, and instead allows for abortions to be performed by any “licensed provider.”   

SB21-193 Protection of Pregnant People in Perinatal Period– Passed 
If enacted, SB 193 will eliminate an important protection in Colorado law for a preborn and viable baby when a woman is on life support.  

Five bills the CCC supported that failed  

HB21-1017 Protect Human Life at Conception – Failed 
HB 1017 would have prohibited terminating the life of an unborn child and made it a violation a class 1 felony.  

HB 21-1080 Nonpublic Education and COVID-19 Relief Act – Failed 
HB 1080 would have established a private school and home-based education income tax credit for families who either enroll their child in private school or educate their child at home, thereby expanding education opportunities for families during and after the pandemic.  

HB 21-1183 Induced Termination of Pregnancy State Registrar – Failed 
HB 1183 would have required health-care providers that perform abortions to report specified information concerning the women who obtain the procedure to the state registrar of vital statistics, thereby increasing transparency in the abortion industry.   

HB 21-1191 Prohibit Discrimination COVID-19 Vaccine Status– Failed  
HB 1191 would have prevented individuals from being coerced to take the COVID-19 vaccine by either the state or by employers.  

HB 21-1210 Modifications to Qualified State Tuition Programs – Failed 
HB 1210 would have allowed families to use some of their private 529 savings account funds for private K-12 school tuition for their children, including at Catholic schools.   

One bill the CCC opposed that failed 

SB 21-031 Limits on Governmental Responses to Protests– Failed 
SB 031 would have made it more difficult for law enforcement to protect innocent lives when protests turn violent.  

Two bills the CCC was in an “Amend” position that passed  

SB 21-073 Civil Action Statute of Limitations Sexual Assault – Enacted  
With the enactment of SB 073, the statute of limitations on bringing a civil claim based on sexual misconduct will be removed as of January 1, 2022. Under this law, victims of sexual abuse can pursue a civil cause of action if the statute of limitations has not expired, the abuse happened in Colorado, and the abuse could be considered a felony or Class 1 misdemeanor if it was a criminal case. 

SB 21-088 Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act– Passed  
If enacted, SB 88 will allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue public and private institutions for abuse that occurred between 1960-2022. Victims would have three years to bring a historical claim, starting from January 1, 2022. Claims brought during this window would be capped at $387,000 for public institutions and at $500,000 for private institutions, with the ability of a judge to double the damages depending on how the private institution handled the situation. Despite unanswered constitutional concerns regarding SB 88, the Colorado Catholic dioceses will also continue to offer opportunities for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to receive support in a non-litigious setting.   

While the legislature has adjourned the 2021 legislative session, there is still the possibility that they will reconvene later this year. To stay up-to-date on Colorado legislative issues and their impact on the Catholic Church in Colorado, be sure to sign up for the CCC legislative network HERE.