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Beginnings in Sri lanka

The first Claretian student from Sri Lanka to return to Sri Lanka and to get ordained to a priest was Alfred M. Kirupananthan CMF. On 10 May 1991 he was ordained as a priest at Wellawatte by His Lordship Rt. Rev.Dr. Oswald Gomis, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Colombo. On July 30, 1991 Rex Constantine CMF was ordained priest in Jaffna by Rt. Rev. Dr. B. Deogupillai, Bishop of Jaffna. Fr. Alfred took up the pastoral ministry in the Cathedral Parish of St. Lucia’s, Kotahena in Colombo, while Fr. Rex at St. Xaviers Church, Nuwara Eliya in the Kandy Diocese. Further ordinations to priesthood followed in the subsequent years coming to a close with the ordination of Montfort Francis in 1996 at Claret Nivas of those who were recruited from Jaffna diocese and elsewhere. All the newly ordained priests were sent to parishes to gain pastoral experience.

In 1992 the Province of Chennai was formed and Sri Lankan Mission got separated from the administrative set-up of Indian Provinces and became directly attached to the Province of Germany for further development. Thus the German Provincial Government was directly responsible for the further growth of this Mission.

The First House

To think of starting a community in Jaffna in the already acquired house was not possible due to the prevailing situation of war between the Government troops and LTTE. Due to this factor a house was purchased at Welisara-Ragama in July 1992 with the aim of establish-ing a Claretian community. The German Province requested the Province of India to make a member available for the foundation of the first Claretian community in Sri Lanka. Fr. Cyriac Njayarkulam was made available and since he managed to obtain the resident visa he could come and establish himself at Welisara together with other two Claretians: Fr. Alfred and student Montfort Francis. Fr. Alfred who had finished his parish ministry at St. Lucias’s Cathedral, Kotahena, Colombo joined the community as econome and also as Director of Claretian Publications which was started at Welisara. Fr. Cyriac was appointed as the Mission Superior. The official establishment, opening and blessing of this first residence of the Claretians in Sri Lanka took place on 24 October 1992 at Welisara, Ragama through His Grace Most Rev.Dr. Nicholas Marcus Fernando, the Archbishop of Colombo.

Vocation Recruitment and Moving to Kandy

Further growth of the Mission was to be guaranteed through recruiting more vocations. With this aim promotion of further vocations from Sri Lanka was undertaken and already in 1993 a group of 8 candidates joined the community at Welisara-Ragama with Fr. Callistus Joseph as their formator. Fr. Cyriac along with the students Joy Mariaratnam and Montfort Francis shifted to a rented residence at Hantana, Kandy in October 1993. They were at the look out for a suitable formation house in the vicinity of the National Seminary at Ampitiya and found one spacious house at Gurudeniya with 4 acres of land. The hope of finding permanent water sources resulted futile at a later stage. The official blessing of the study house ‘Claret Nivas’ was done by His Lordship Rt. Rev.Dr. Joseph Vianney Fernando, Bishop of Kandy on 3 November 1994. Candidates went to different colleges like St. Anthony’s, Katugastota, St. Sylvester to study AL courses but at a later stage this was given up and they were receiving coaching in the house itself. Candidates were staying together with a few scholastics at Claret Nivas.

Beginning of Novitiate

When the first batch finished their postulancy at Claret Nivas it was time to send them for novitiate. Sending the future novices to the novitiate in India seemed difficult due to the problem of obtaining a longer visa for one year. It was then decided to start a novitiate at Ampitiya itself. For this purpose a house was purchased with 5 acres of land and the novitiate house ‘Fussimanya’ was established. His Lordship Rt. Rev.Dr. Joseph Vianney Fernando blessed the novitiate on 7th September 1997 and a group of 5 novices began their novitiate under the guidance of Fr. Cyriac Njayarkulam, the novice master. Rev.Fr. Alois Andelfinger CMF, the Vice Provincial of the German Province received them into novitiate.

Parish Ministry

Claretian Fathers were also active and involved themselves in the pastoral field. Talawakele Parish in the Kandy diocese was entrusted to the Claretians for few years. Fr. Rex Constantine was made parish priest and Frs. C. Y. P. Joseph and A. J. Arulraja served as co-pastors.A mission parish was established in 1994 at Madulsima in the diocese of Badulla and Fr. Rohan Dominic was appointed as parish priest. He was innovative in establishing small Christian Communities and starting social projects for the good of the people irrespective of caste or creed, race or language. Fr. Subaraj from Chennai Province took up parish ministry in the Archdiocese of Colombo and was later entrusted with the administration of the parish at Chekku street with Vailankanni Shrine in the heart of Colombo. Fr. S.M.S. Satheesh serves the parish at Bulathkohu-pitiya as parish priest from 2009 onwards.

To Jaffna

The house purchased at Chundikuli in Jaffna already in 1984 did not suffer damages during the heavy fighting and shelling and was taken care of by Fr. Selvaraja all throughout these years. In 1998 a community was started there with Frs. Rex Constantine and M.K.S. Francis and candidates from Jaffna diocese were admitted to the minor seminary. Fathers were involved in preaching and extraordinary apostolates.

Minor Seminary at Kattuwa

A separate minor seminary was a need and accordingly Negombo was chosen to establish this minor seminary. Fr. Joy Mariaratnam shifted his residence along with a few candidates to Daluwakotuwa near Kochchikade and Fr. Calistus Joseph also followed him staying in separate rented houses. A land of 7 acres was acquired at Kattuwa and a spacious minor seminary was constructed. The foundation stone for this seminary was laid by Rev.Fr. Aquilino Bocos CMF, Superior General on 5 February 2000. St. Claret Seminary was blessed by His Grace Most Rev.Dr. Nicholas Marcus Fernando, Archbishop of Colombo on 12 March 2002 and opened by Rev.Fr. Peter Schuetz CMF, Provincial of the German Province. The seminarians from Claret Aham, Chundikuli-Jaffna also came to Kattuwa to follow up their studies.

Ordinations of the First Batch Trained in Sri Lanka

On 28 April 2006 His Lordship Rt.Rev.Dr. Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar ordained the Deacons L.P. Royestan Jeyaraj, S. Steevan and S.M.S. Satheesh to priests and with them the second generation of Claretians from Sri Lanka received the priestly ordination.

Philosophy to Jaffna and Novitiate to Kurunegala

Because of the ceasefire and opening of A9 road to Jaffna there was a project to shift the philosophy students to Jaffna and for one year the students of philosophy were accommodated at our Jaffna community. Since the fighting started again in 2006 they were brought back to Claret Nivas, Gurudeniya and they continued their philosophy studies at the National Seminary, Ampitiya. The plan of extending our house in Jaffna to accommodate the students of philosophy was abandoned. There was also a change in the system of studying philosophy. Decision was taken to undergo the novitiate year after studying philosophy and consequently there was no more novitiate batch after September 2005 at the novitiate house ‘Fussimanya’. A land consisting of 10 acres with coconut trees was purchased in 2007 at Uhumeeya near Kurunegala. The next novitiate batch started here at Uhumeeya in Casa St. Claret on 7 September 2008 with Rev.Fr. S. Anselmus as the novice master.

Regional Administration

The service of the Mission Superior was taken up by Fr. Rohan Dominic on 16 July 2005 from Fr. Cyriac Njayarkulam who was doing this service from 1992. Fr. Cyriac continued to serve the Mission being the Superior at Claret Nivas, Gurudeniya-Kandy and offering his services as visiting professor at National Seminary, Ampitiya.

In view of the financial self-sufficiency of the Mission a mixed estate of 40 acres was acquired near Mattugama in 2009. It is an estate consisting of rubber, tea and cinnamon plants. No other major investments have been made so far for the self sufficiency of the Mission. To create the Sri Lankan Mission into a dependent Delegation will be the next move in the administrative set-up.

VAROD at Vavuniya

Claretians had started to co-operate with the KAROD Project in Kilinochchi since 2007. Because of the war and displacement that project came to a standstill. A new Project with the name VAROD was started by the Claretians with the co-operation of religious congregations and diocesan authorities in 2009 in Vavuniya. Fr. A. Joseph Arul Raja CMF took charge as director in October 2009. This project takes care of the children with physical handicap from among the war victims and displaced.

Formation abroad

In 2009 two postulants were sent to the novitiate at Ormoc City in the Philippines to undergo the novitiate year. 3 candidates were sent to India to study philosophy.

THE STATISTICS AS ON 30.04.2013

Priests from Sri Lanka : 30
Priests from other Provinces: 2 
Deacons :  
Perpetually professed students : 1 
Temporarily professed students : 06 
Novices : 4 
Postulants(students of philosophy) : 10 
Minor Seminarians : 28
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