Our brother Oblate, Fr. Edwin Thevathasan OMI passed away on the 18th of August 2014. His funeral was held on the 20th of August 2014, presided by Rt. Rev. Kingsley Swampillai, Bishop of Trincomalee. The untimely death of Fr. Edwin at the age of 40 was due to his dedication to the people. He was so devoted to his duties and responsibilities that he neglected his health without complaint. By the time his ailments were discovered by his Superiors and was admitted to the General Hospital in Jaffna he had far too many complications. In spite of extraordinary efforts from medical staff, relatives and friends for eighteen days he succumbed to his complications. He was ordained in November 2007 and served hardly seven years. There were about 500 people, from his parish Sambalthivu, and native village Vidathalthivu, who attended the funeral. People love him and remember his compassionate heart.
BishopBernt Ivar EIDSVIG, C. R. S. A, bishop of Oslo Diocese in Norway visited the Jaffna Oblates from the 9th to the 11th of July 2014. He was accompanied by Fr. Bharath Villavarayan from Kotahena working in Oslo. The Diocese of Oslo ministers to around 51,000* Catholics who form 1.5 % of a total population of 3,500,000. There are 18,000 Tamil immigrants from Sri Lanka of whom 8,000 are Catholics. It is noteworthy that a big group of Tamils in Norway are from Navanthurai, Sri Lanka. There are 18,000 Filipinos in Oslo , majority of whom are Catholics (80%). There are also 21,000 immigrants from Vietnam 12,000 of whom are Catholics. Two Oblate priests from Jaffna Fr. Victor Jeyasingham OMI and Fr. Saveripillai Edmund Reginald OMI are already in the Diocese of Oslo ministering mainly to the immigrants. Negotiations are under way to form a “new mission” of Denmark-Norway. This “New Mission” is to be the responsibility of the Province of Jaffna. At present this region is being looked after by the Province of Poland as Districts of Poland.
* Figures are taken from 2004 census and are rounded off for readability.
Fr. Mariathasan Deloshan Rajeeve OMI and Fr. Thevasahayam Jesupalan OMI were ordained priests at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Jaffna by Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Sundaranayagam on the 26th of June 2014. They were ordained together with a Diocesan Priest Fr. Mike Donald. Fr. Rajeeve belongs to the parish of St. John the Baptist, Jaffna while Fr. Jesupalan belongs to the parish of Iranai Thivu who are now resettled as Iranai Madha parish at Mullankavil, Mannar. Fr. Sornam Varadharajan Croos OMI and Fr. Adaikalam Jesuraj Croos OMI from the same batch were already ordained on the 24th of April 2014 by Msgr. Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar. Thus theOblates of Jaffna happily have four new priests added to their team in 2014.
Rev. Fr. Louigi Lougen OMI, Superior General of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, visited the missions in Sri Lanka where the Oblates are working. After his visit to the Province of Colombo he visited the Province of Jaffna from the 15th to the 22nd of June 2014. He visited all the Oblates and their ministries in the Dioceses of Mannar, Jaffna and Trincomalee and in the Formation Houses. He was also able to visit some of the Oblates from Jaffna Province who are ministering in Southern parts of Sri Lanka. During his visit he addressed the Oblates in each of the four Districts and on the 19th of June 2014 he attended a forum where he was briefed by the clergy and religious of Jaffna on the current situation where the Catholic Church in the North is ministering. On the final days of his visit he had joint sessions with Colombo and Jaffna administrations to address continued collaboration between the two Provinces. Fr. Clement Waidiyasekara OMI, General Councilor for Asia also attended the joint sessions.
Seventy-two Oblates of the Province of Jaffna gathered at Thodarpaham on June 01, 2014 for the installation of their new Provincial Fr. S. Edwin Vasantharajah OMI and his Councilors. Fr. Phillip Stanislaus OMI shared a profound reflection from St. John’s Gospel: that the success of the Oblate Mission depends on the extent that Oblates are connected to Our Lord Jesus Christ; similar to the branches of a grape vine that are to remain connected to the main stock to bear fruit. The outgoing Provincial Fr. Paul N. Mariampillai OMI thanked the Oblates, specially Fr. Jeevendra Paul OMI, Grant Director, for building up the finances of the fledgling Province of Jaffna that was ravaged by civil war for twenty-five years – almost from the time of its inception. The new Provincial Fr. Edwin made the Profession of Faith and requested the prayers of all the Oblates for the new leadership team . There was an atmosphere of joy specially because of meeting the Oblates who had come from faraway places, most of whom had to return immediately after the celebrations.