On December 08, 2014 Oblates andlaity participated in the Inauguration Liturgy of the second lap of Triennium Animation. Braving the inclement weather, they gathered at De Mazenod Chapel, Columbuthurai, Jaffna. The theme of the Liturgy was introduced through symbols: plants and flowers symbolized regenerationthrough the Spirit – who operates imperceptively. Fr. Soosai Damien OMI, who presided at the Eucharist, situated the liturgy in the perspective of Fr. General’s letter written specially for this occasion: that in the contemporary context, while the Oblates face extinction, stagnation or regeneration, our evident option would be regeneration. Fr. Santhiapillai Sebastian OMI who preached the homily, dwelt on the charism of our Founder. He showed that regenerationis not individualistic but communal; is both vertical and horizontal. Our renewal is connected both to Jesus, Our Blessed Mother and St. Eugene who inspire us, and at the same time it is reciprocally connected to the poor to whom we are sent. He thanked the people who had arrived from distant parishes with unmistakable zeal and devotion.
Scholastic Brothers Lucas Regini Jude Avalin OMI; Manuelpillai Patrick Prasanth OMI and Seemanpillai Alstan Roche OMI made their Final Profession, on the 12th of November 2014, in the presence of Fr. Edwin S. Vasantharajah OMI, Provincial of Jaffna. The event took place during the Eucharistic Celebration at St. Eugene De Mazenod Chapel, Columbuthurai, Jaffna.
On the following day they were ordained Deacons by Rt. Rev. Bishop Thomas Saundaranayagam. They were ordained at St. Francis Xavier’s Seminary, Jaffna, together with six other Deacons belonging to the Diocese of Jaffna.
During the Annual Retreat, in November 2014, the Oblates honored Fr. Andrew Cierpka OMI (1905-1982) and Fr Josef Mathuni OMI (1921-2010). Both of them had been main players in establishing Gnanodhayam. Fr. Cierpka with much foresight had purchased 34 acres of land at Keeri, Mannar, in the name of the Oblates. Subsequently Fr. Mathuni had organized most of the funding for the construction of Gnanodhayam. Today Gnanodhayam serves not only Oblate activities (Pre-novitiate, retreats, meetings, etc.) but is also used by the laity and non Oblates to conduct educational and religious programs.
It was pointed out that Fr. Emmanual Jesuthasam OMI, who is very much associated with Gnanodhayam, both in setting up the infrastructure as well as in conducting religious classes, was baptized by Fr. Cierpka in Point Pedro. Fr. Jusuthasan will be celebrating Fifty years of his priesthood in December 2014.
Sixty Eight Oblates from the Province of Jaffna gathered at Gnanodhayam, Keeri, Mannar for the Annual Retreat. Fr. Christian Fini OMI from Australia preached the Retreat. The Province had mandated Fr. Santhiapillai M. Sebastian, OMI and his team to organize the Animation cum Annual Retreat. Accordingly the Retreat was preceded by two days of intensive animation based on our Founder’s charism and the first ten Constitutions of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Fr. Fini emphasized St. Eugene De Mazenod’s predilection for the poor, especially for the youth and the proletariat, who are often marginalized. As Bishop of Marseilles he often bent the rules of the diocese in favor of the proletariat, and adopted the use of their lingo when addressing them.
The person of Fr. Fini was very helpful for the retreatants; his experience and commitment to youth apostolate in Australia exuded during his talks. Although himself is of Italian descent, surprisingly he had a repertoire of Irish jokes, which kept us fully awake. To sensitize us to the needs of the times; on the last day, he gave extra time after dinner, to give a taste of cyber-theology.
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.