The Oblates of Mary Immaculate of Jaffna Province organize mini-programs, on behalf of HAVONOS, to grant support for war affected widows. Thus on the 11th of December 2015 thirty-one widows around Mankulam were granted first installments to start poultry or dairy farms. Additional help is forthcoming in order to establish regular livelihood by these widows, who are the only breadwinners. Similar mini-programs are scheduled for the widows around Mullikulam, Kilinochchi, Yakkachi, etc. etc.
It is to be noted that there are an estimated 90,000 war-widows and 160,000 amputees as a result of the 30 year civil war in Sri Lanka. The above mentioned widows fall under either or both of these categories: some have lost their husbands while others’ husbands have lost their limbs. Compounding these problems, some of these widows themselves are amputees and are displaced persons; living on temporary land.
HAVONOS is an organization in Holland that is custom designed to help the war affected in Northern Sri Lanka – who work in partnership with the Oblates in Jaffna. The program was held at the LEBARA amputees’ rehabilitation center in Mankulam. Since LEBARA Foundation too works in partnership with the Oblates, the country Coordinator Mr. Antony Clarence, was invited to grace the occasion.
In November 2015 Mr. Gerrit Muis was our guest at Thodarpaham for three days. He is from Holland and has been visiting Sri Lanka regularly since 1981. What started as a casual visit to Fr. Iruthayam at Palayootu in Sri Lanka, in 1981, has escalated into a full blown commitment; to help the orphans who are the product of 30 year civil war. Mr. Muis is helping many institutions that are looking after the orphans, e.g. at Atchuvely, Kilinochchi, Mulankavil, Badulla, etc. When asked how many orphans he is helping, he mumbles diffidently “Don’t know…must be several hundred”.
Mr. and Mrs Gerrit Muis have no children of their own, but have adopted two boys and a girl from Indonesia and a Sinhalese girl from Sri Lanka. His commitment in Sri Lanka has been enhanced by being linked to a Foundation by the name “Stichting Project Hulp Sri Lanka”. Twice a year Mr. Muis visits the project areas in Sri Lanka; each visit lasting six weeks. He is unassuming and easily accommodates to the harsh clime and spicy food of the Northern Province.
“’It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35
Mr. Raja Ram Subbian PhD, from Bangalore, India, had been engaged by Sri Lankan government to conduct seminars for those who are counselling the post-war traumatized victims. Through personal contacts Mr. Subbian extended his services to the counselling centers under the Oblate Province of Jaffna. From 1st to the 3rd of November 2015, Fr. Yakkop Robinson Satheeskumar OMI (Ramesh) organized a seminar for the counselors from Anjali Ahlam, Point Pedro, Suhavazhvu(WHC), Jaffna and Institute of Counselling and Ongoing Formation (ICOF). Twenty Four participants successfully completed the training and were issued certificates.
Rev. Bro. Bede Sujaharan Keethapngalon (Sri Lanka) was ordained Deacon by His Lordship Mgr. William Steckling OMI, the Bishop of Ciudad, Este (Paraguay), in the Oblate General House chapel on 20th of September 2015. The ceremony which was organized and animated by the International Roman Scholasticate community was simple and solemn. The chapel was full of the faithful, family members, friends and Oblates from the community of Mediterranean Scholasticate and Novitiate, and members of the Oblate Youth Center. Around 60 priests participated in this ceremony. Among the celebrants there were two more Bishops: Mgr. Lucio Alfert, vicar Apostolate of Pilcomayo (Paraguay) and Mgr. Joâo (Jan) Kot, the bishop of Ze Doca (Brazil). After the mass the celebration was followed by festive dinner in the Refectory of the General House. It was a day filled with jubilant atmosphere. We congratulate the new deacon and pray that the Lord may give him the grace of being always faithful to Him and to His people.
A group of Oblates gathered at Gnanodhayam, Mannar for their Annual Retreat, from the 2nd to the 7th November 2015. Fr. Emmanuel Maphoma Mosoeu OMI, General Councilor for Africa-Madagascar Animated the Retreat. The theme of the retreat was “New Way of Being Missionary”. Fr. Mosoeu emphasized that today we are called to go back and rediscover our roots: Jesus Christ as revealed in the New Testament; Jesus Christ as our model as well as partner who accompanies us in our mission. The General Chapter-35 of 2010 duly placed Community, Mission, Leadership, Formation and Stewardship in the context of Jesus Christ; whereas previously we often placed any mission-talk in the context of Church or the OMI Congregation. Fr. Mosoeu pointed out that we had often forgotten the “god” that Jesus had revealed, as the Abba who loves ALL without discrimination; the Father who forgives and forgets. He cited ample instances from the history of the Church where the Church had been philandering with “gods” of its own creation, and had discriminated and oppressed the nations; often justifying its actions by texts chosen from the Old Testament.
Although his two main talks per day lasted nearly 90 minutes, the audience was kept enthralled; not only because the talks were provocative in substance, but also because they were delivered with gusto and with generous amount of body language and dance, typical of Africans. On the last day of the Retreat the three jubilarians were feted: Fr. P. P. Philip OMI [60 years of Religious Profession]; Fr. Stanislaus Swampillai OMI [25 years of Religious Profession] & Fr. Jeevanadas Fernando OMI [25 years in Priesthood]
There were forty two retreatants in the first group; seven from Colombo Province and the rest from Jaffna Province. Subsequently seven Oblates from Jaffna Province will join the retreat at Tewatta, Ragama, organized by Colombo Province. There will be a third retreat at Gnanodhayam to accommodate those who could not participate in the other retreats. This retreat will be animated by Fr. Stephen C.R., from Rosarian Congregation which was founded by an Oblate priest: Fr. B. A. Thomas OMI.