About the Author

The author, Father John Ferreira, is a priest of the Christian Roman Catholic Church and is at present posted as Principal of St. Peter’s College, Agra, one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of the country.

Born on November 22, 1951 at Vasai, Mumbai, to Thomas and Natalia Ferreira, he completed his primary and secondary education at St. Thomas School, Vasai, in 1971. Desirous of making priesthood his vocation in life, he came to Agra to join St. Lawrence of Brindisi Minor Seminary in 1974, after getting inspiration from Fr. Columban, the then Principal of St. Peter’s College, Agra. He then went for higher theological studies to St. Joseph’s Regional Seminary, Allahabad, where his course included the study of philosophy and theology. On completion of the seven-year course, John Ferreira was ordained priest of the Roman Catholic Church at Agra on April 10, 1981. He was henceforth to be known as Rev. Fr. John Ferreira.

The ordination meant that he would from then on lead a life of dedication to Christ and his Church and of celibacy and austerity, living away from his kith and kin and having fellow priests as his only companions, besides the teachings of Christ and the presence of the Lord Later Fr. John did his Master’s in history from Agra University.

Fr. John’s interest in yoga began while he was at the Allahabad Seminary. A student-priest has to study the major religions of the world, so that he can see his own religion in their context as well. Fr. John did so; but interest in the ancient Indian exercise-cum-meditation philosophy of yoga was aroused by talks on the subject arranged for the seminarians by the then Rector, Fr. Dhirananda Bhatt. It was then that Fr. John decided to explore the mysteries of yoga, for which he went to the Bihar School of Yoga, where he attended a training programme under Satyananda Saraswati. He also attended courses and teacher-training programmes at other yoga centres, including one under Swami Vasudev Jaggi at Valliankari, near Coimbatore. He has earned diplomas and degrees in yoga from Swami Vyasa University and Swami Vivekananda University, Bangalore. He also did one month’s course at Shivananda Yoga Ashram, Rishkikesh in May 1987. Since 1992 he has been a regular visitor to the Institute of Naturopathy and Yogic Science (INYS) at Bangalore, doing courses there.

Fr. John’s interest in yoga made him undertake a course in herbal medicines at C.H.A..I (Catholic Hospital Association of India), Hyderabad. The fascination for yoga and subjects allied to it has resulted in the publication of school calendars on themes like suryanamaskar, diabetes, asthma and cancer and the benefits of fruits for better public awareness of the gifts of yoga and herbal medicines.

This interest in herbal medicines and in fruit therapy has extended to a general love for nature, which has resulted in the further beautification of and increasing the greenery on the campus of St. Peter’s, where his latest project is that of water harvesting.

In order that yoga comes home to all and sundry he has set up a yoga and meditation centre at St. Peter’s, appropriately named after Archbishop Albert D’ Souza, himself a great admirer and practitioner of yoga. To make yoga popular, Fr. John has made it a compulsory subject wherever he has served as Principal.

But yoga is not all there is in Fr. John Ferreira. His multi-faceted personality has revealed itself in other spheres. He is a man naturally inclined to music, which is an integral part of Church services. Fr. John mastered both Indian and Western music while yet at the Seminary and later taught music at the various institutions where he was posted. This interest has resulted in his writing a book on the subject entitled ‘Harmony’, that contains songs for all occasions. The first edition of 5000 copies having been sold out, a second edition is under preparation.

A great innovator and an artist with a vision, he has given an artist’s touch to the new St. Peter’s gateway, the old College auditorium, (which has been made into a picture gallery) and the College Square, where to the east of the stage the Sermon on the Mount has been shown in an embossed painting, a follow-up of the yoga gallery along the road from the gate to the building of the Primary School.

Even as he is a practitioner of yoga, Fr. John is a practitioner of Christian charity and encourages those who have to give to those who haven’t, leading from the front himself. Wherever he has worked as Principal, he has helped the teachers and other employees to improve their condition by giving them interest-free loans for houses etc. Every year, he organizes ‘The Joy of Giving’ week for the benefit of the marginalized sections of society.