Father Raymond Ambroise, former executive secretary of the Office of Social Communications of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), succumbed to a heart attack in India on July 7.
He was 75.
Father Ambroise led the FABC media office from 2010 to 2019 after serving as consultant of Radio Veritas Asia from 2003 to 2009.
“On behalf of the FABC, I express our grief and sorrow at the sudden demise of Father Ambroise,” read a statement from Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, president of the federation.
He described the late priest as “a quiet and calm missionary … with deep love for the Church.”
“He devoted all his energies to serve the Lord,” said the cardinal, adding that the late priest was a “trailblazer and luminary in the field of social communication, social development, innovative educational programs, and numerous other forms of pastoral ministry.”
“An able administrator and meticulous planner, he was calm, unassuming, gentle and above all deeply spiritual in all that he did,” Cardinal Bo remembered the Indian priest.
The cardinal said Father Ambroise would be remembered by those who worked with him for living “a very frugal and austere life” even as he handled funds and projects for the Church in Asia.
The priest’s “deep insights and progressive thinking” were credited for migrating the 50-year-old Radio Veritas Asia into an online service in 22 languages.
“He guided the process of transition with diligence,” said Cardinal Bo. “He was a visionary and his efforts have borne abundant fruit,” added the prelate.
Aside from his media work, Father Ambroise was also instrumental in establishing the Andhra Pradesh Social Service Society in India, which has been helping poor families with sustainable livelihood and economic development projects.
“He never retired from any work,” Cardinal Bo said. “He was always ready to render any service with utmost commitment.”
Father Ambroise died at the Home for the Disabled in India where he lived with hundreds of homeless people that he helped with his various projects.
In a letter to Cardinal Bo upon his completion of his assignment with the FABC in March last year, Father Ambroise said he would be going back to India to continue “with my assignments to provide alternative ‘home’ to over 420 who lost their ‘own home’ by no fault of theirs.”
For years, the Indian priest was working with physically and mentally challenged individuals and with rural landless women in over 2,000 villages.
In several dialogues with this reporter, Father Ambroise would share his lifelong dream of empowering the poor, especially those who have been “abandoned and forgotten by society.”
Back in India, he continued his work as manager of a multicolor offset press that is owned by the Telugu Catholic Bishops’ Council “to enrich the Telugu Catholic literature.”
“Like Mary my heart rebounds with joy and sing the grateful song of Mary,” he said.
In his letter to Cardinal Bo, the priest said he would return to India with his heart “exuberant with joy for what God has done in my life.”
He said he was particularly grateful for “the last nine and half years in the field of social communication” especially with his work in Radio Veritas Asia.
Father Ambroise said his work with the media network filled his heart with “gratitude to God” for having fulfilled his desire “to be a missionary in my life to bring Jesus to the teeming millions of Asians all over the world.”
He left his work with FABC and Radio Veritas Asia “with gratitude for the commitment that gave me a sense of fulfillment in facing all the challenges.”
He described his work with media “not only to keep up with what was being done in the past but to scale it up to new heights.”
The priest was proud of his role in the “digitalization” of Radio Veritas Asia to the new media platform, including social media networks.
“As I always acknowledged, I consider [my work in Radio Veritas Asia and FABC] as God’s plan to use me in spite of my inadequacies,” he said.
“[Because] I was serving the Lord and it is He who selected me, I was confident that He would complement and empower me to achieve His plan for all my assignments,” he said.
“In all these I had to be only an instrument in His Hands. I thank God for the manifold ways by which He accompanied me to fulfill my assignment,” he said.
In India, Father Ambroise was instrumental in the production of the several films, including “Dayasagar” (Ocean of Mercy) in Hindi, “Karunamayudu” in Tamil, “Karunamurthi” also in Tamil, and the television series “Dayasagar” in Telugu.
Father Ambroise was the brother of Bishop Yvon Ambroise, chairman of FABC’s Office of Human Development.