Bro. Santi sdb



Don Nallayan PANCRAS sdb.

the sad demise of our dear confrere Bro. Julian Santi, the Province of Chennai has lost a great Son of Don Bosco, a dedicated missionary, a builder of institutions, and a great friend of the young and the poor, the like of which is not easy to find. He was the last of a long line of great missionaries who laboured in our province and gave their all for the glory of God and for the good of the young and the poor. He died at 12.46 p.m. on 30 April 2017 at St. Thomas Hospital, Chennai, after a long and valiant battle with cancer. He was 84 years and 6 months old. He was a Salesian for 65 years and in India for 60 years.

That very day, the SIGA Community had, in fact, planned to celebrate the 60 years of Bro. Santi in India with a grand celebration. A large number of his past pupils from different parts of the country had in fact already arrived for the celebration. Instead of the grand celebration, they took part in the solemn requiem Mass at 6.30 p.m. on 30th evening.


Though Bro. Santi was diagnosed with cancer more than two years ago, he continued to be somewhat active, till about six months ago. Thereafter he was confined to his room and moving only on a wheel chair. On 24 April he was admitted in St. Thomas Hospital for the last time. As his condition worsened on Friday 28th morning he was shifted to the ICU but brought back to the ward the next day. On Sunday, 30th April by 3 a.m. his condition took a turn for the worse and he slipped into a coma. As the confreres and boys who were by his bedside kept praying and singing, his life ebbed away and his soul flew into eternity.

The solemn well-attended, open-air funeral service held in the grounds of SIGA was indeed a fitting farewell to a man who had dedicated his entire life for the Lord in the service of the young and the poor at SIGA, thus transforming the lives of thousands of young people. The solemn and touching funeral Mass was presided over by the Most Rev. Dr. Sounderaraju SDB, D.D., Bishop of Vellore, with over 150 priests concelebrating. Hundreds of past pupils of Bro. Santi from all over the country and even a few from abroad were present.

After the 3-hour-long service, the beautiful casket containing the mortal remains of this great Salesian Brother was taken in solemn procession, under a guard of honour, from the playground to the chapel of SIGA community and laid to rest in a specially prepared grave in front of the altar. The final obsequies at the grave were performed by me.

The entire funeral service was transmitted across the world through live streaming so that his people in Italy and past pupils in different parts of the world could follow it in real time.

Early life

Giuliano Santi was born on 23 October 1932 in a large family of nine children, five boys and four girls, at Castello di Godego, near Venice, in Italy. He was the sixth. He was very close to all his brothers and sisters and kept in touch with them through all possible means. They too were very fond of him and always went out of their way to help him and his mission in India.

He joined the Salesian Institute at Colle Don Bosco on 15 September 1947 to learn printing technology. He loved the place, the birthplace of Don Bosco, steeped in Salesian lore. The “little house” of Don Bosco was only 200 metres from his classroom. The atmosphere at Colle attracted him so much that after five years of study, he chose to become a Salesian Brother. He made his first profession on 16th August 1952. After the profession he was back in Colle for another five years for further training and formation.

Missionary call

While there, one fine day in 1957, a member of the General Council visited Colle to speak to the young Salesians about Salesian Missions in various parts of the world. After the meeting, during a private conversation with young Julian, the visitor asked him: “Giuliano, are you ready to cross the seas?” Giuliano was ready to go anywhere and do any work and so he replied with an enthusiastic

“Yes”. On 24th January 1957, he was informed that he could go to Madras, India. Ten days later, on 3rd February, he was at the port of Genoa to set sail to India. He arrived in Bombay on 9th March 1957 and spent a day at Don Bosco, Matunga, and then took a flight to Chennai. At the airport, he was received by Fr. Pianazzi, the then provincial, who straight away took him to Basin Bridge, to help in the Printing Press there. When in 1968 the Press section was shifted to its present campus on Taylors Road, and renamed Salesian Institute of Graphic Arts (SIGA), Bro. Santi also moved in with it. From that moment, till his death, he has been with SIGA. It is remarkable that, of his 60 years in India, 56 were spent in SIGA. The only time he was away from SIGA was in 1964-68, when he was called to Kolkata to help in the Catholic Orphan Press there.

A Great Salesian Educator

He served SIGA as its Principal and Manager for 31 years. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he, almost single-handedly, built up SIGA and made it one of the outstanding Institutes of Printing Technology in India. In recognition of his unique contribution to the development of printing in

India, on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee of religious profession (2007), the Madras Printers & Lithographers Association along with the All-India Federation of Master Printers chose him for the prestigious Gutenberg Award.

His life of utter dedication and hard work is a beautiful example for all of us. It was said of Don Bosco that no one in the 19th century loved young people as much as Don Bosco did. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that no one in the last sixty years loved young people of India, the young people of SIGA, as much as Bro. Julian Santi did. This love he expressed through his total dedication to their welfare.

He made his own Don Bosco’s famous words to the young people of Turin: “For you I study, for you I work, for you I live; for you I am ready even to give my life.” The young people of SIGA understood it and responded to him in like manner. They were ready to do anything for him. The hundreds of past pupils of Bro. Santi present at his funeral and the thousands across the world in all continents who mourn his death bear testimony to the truth of his life.

His life made a deep impression on every student in SIGA. The secret of his success with young people was this: He would tell the teachers and the Salesians: Be humble, be gentle, be understanding, listen to them with your heart, He knew how to win over the so-called bad boys, the trouble makers, through his goodness and understanding approach. Here is one example shared by Fr. K. J. Louis, who was the Rector at SIGA. One day, a boy had committed a very serious fault. The matter came to the House Council. The decision of the Council was to dismiss the boy. Then Bro. Santi intervened. He said to the other councillors, “Give him any punishment you want. But don’t dismiss him. If we dismiss him where will he go? We are here to reform the bad, not to throw them out.” And so the boy remained and continued his studies and today he is a fine gentleman, and doing well in the printing industry. There are many such examples which show the deep love and compassion he had for young people in trouble.

Yet another example is that when Fr. Nallayan Pancras, then a student of Graphis at SIGA collaborated with Br. Santi for one year in the pre- press department and other three years as his assistant and mediator for the customers to prepare estimation and billing for the printing work at the press. Due to this responsibility, Fr. Nallayan had to discuss with Br. Santi all that happened during the day. It was very inspiring that he was not only interested in the printing jobs, but he was very much concerned about the students and their overall well being. Hence, he used to enquire Fr. Nallayan about the boys and their family situation.

Understanding the boys and their pathetic family background, he willingly sponsored for their studies. Often he invited them to his office to provide some useful resources for them. Moreover he used to ask Fr. Nallayan to collect photos and get family details of the oratory boys, who come from poor background. He started this adoption scheme with few boys then and now there are more than 2000 boys and girls benefiting by this scheme every year. This shows how he was involved in the lives of so many students especially those underprivileged.

Exemplary Religious

As a religious and a Salesian, he was very clear about his identity as a consecrated person, as a person who had given his life to God, in the service of others. He was deeply attached to Don Bosco and very knowledgeable about him. “In every situation do as Don Bosco would do”, was his simple advice to a young Salesian. He was very exemplary and observant about his religious practices. In the midst of his busy schedule he found time to be with God in prayer. There was no compromise on that.

In true Salesian tradition, he was very much focused on the Sacraments. The Eucharist and the Sacrament of reconciliation had a central place in his life. From them “he drew energy and endurance in his work with the young” (C 88). In the last confession, he made just before going to the hospital, he told his confessor, “This is my last confession.” He was sure the end was near and he was well prepared for it. He wanted to be always at right with God so that when the final call came, he could march into heaven gloriously.

All of us know that a very important part of Bro. Santi’s work was finding resources for the development of SIGA. He did it by writing to his family members, friends and benefactors in Italy. Besides the personal letters, every year, for the last 47 years, he would send his friends a printed newsletter for Christmas and Easter. Here I like to quote a few lines from his last letter, the Easter letter he wrote to his friends and benefactors which is very revealing of his spirituality and personality. He writes, “Today, it is with some effort, that I begin this Easter newsletter. As I wrote to you in my Christmas letter, my body is debilitated by illness… Long ago, in fact 65 years ago, I embraced the Salesian missionary vocation which brought me to this land of India, to work for young people, especially the poorest and the most needy. And now in faith I accept this trial of illness…; at this moment, I feel a special closeness to all the people who suffer and to all the people who assist and look after their loved ones in their pain and sickness… I find great strength and consolation in prayer and faith. Here I have the support of so many people who love me so much; they, with their smiling faces and simple loving gestures give me so much attention and so much care…. The last few months I have been in a wheelchair, driven around by my Guardian Angels, I mean, the boys of the institute who are at my side, 24 hours a day, to offer me any help or assistance that I may need.”

These circular letters and his personal letters to his friends always contained a lot of spiritual encouragement and inspiration. He would painstakingly gather appropriate quotations from the Bible and other sources, to address the needs of individual benefactors he was writing to. This in itself was a great form of apostolate that he carried out over the last fifty years or so.

The Lord’s words, “I have come to give life and life in abundance”, rings so true in the life of Bro. Santi. This great Salesian, during his 60 years in India, literally gave his life, day by day, that numerous poor boys may have life in greater abundance. Santi – was his family name, his surname; “Santi” in Italian means “saints”. We can indeed say, he lived true to that name, true to the name he inherited. Let us continue to support him with our prayers. May his soul rest in peace!

It was indeed a glorious and fitting farewell to a man who deserved every bit of it. I am sure Bro. Santi, watching it all from above, would have been smiling upon you and blessing you for all your love and generosity. While we grieve over his loss, let us keep alive his memory (C 54) so that his life may always remain for us "an incentive to continue faithfully in our mission (C 94).

Don Nallayan PANCRAS sdb

Valdocco - Torino


Years of his Ministry

Name of the Houses



May 1955 - May 1957

Italy, Castelnuovo Don Bosco, Colle Don Bosco – Italy.

Assistant 2


May 1957 - May 1964

St. Joseph’s Technical School - Basin Bridge, Madras.

Assistant 6


May 1964 - May 1968

Calcutta, Portuguese Church Street Catholic Orphan Press

Assistant (Printer, Composer)


May 1968 - May 1970

St. Joseph’s Technical School – Basin Bridge, Madras.

Assistant / Teacher (Printer, Composer) 2


May 1970 - May 1973

The Citadel, SIGA – Madras

Catechist 3


May 1973 - May 1974

Rinaldi Juniorate, SIGA – Madras.

Catechist/ Ic: SIGA DIPLOMA COURSE (SDC)/ HoD: Composing Dept. 1


May 1974 - May 1976

Rinaldi Juniorate, SIGA – Madras.

Liturgical Animator/ HoD: Composing Dept. 2


May 1976 - May 1979

Rinaldi Juniorate, SIGA – Madras

HoD: Composing Dept. 3


May 1979 - May 2008

Rinaldi Juniorate, SIGA – Chennai.

Principal /Manager 29


May 2008 - May 2010

Rinaldi Juniorate, SIGA – Chennai.

Manager 2


May 2010 - April 2017

Rinaldi Juniorate, SIGA – Chennai.

Director: Propaganda 7