New Parish of Kuchchaveli

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At the invitation of Bishop J. Kingsley Swampillai, Emeritus Bishop of Trincomalee diocese in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, the Colombo Province of the Oblates, after the formal discussion with Rev. Fr. Rohan Silva, OMI, the former Oblate Provincial with the Bishop on February 2, 2015, accepted to begin their services with missionary enthusiasm in the newly established parish of Kuchchaveli. Having received the letter of presentation from Fr. Provincial, Bishop His Lordship Rt. Rev. Dr Kingsley Swampillai appointed Fr. Jesu Ramesh Warnakulasuriya, OMI as the parish priest of Kuchchaveli with effect from February 13, 2015.

The new parish is detached from the parish of Nilaveli, Trincomalee which was begun by the Oblates in 1970 with the late Fr. Bertram Thirimanne, OMI as a parish priest and ministered by several Oblates till 2017. The new parish Centres are Salapayaru, Kuchchaveli, Pudavakattu (Sagarapura), Kallarawa and Pulmoddai (Veeranthivu).

Oblates with new enthusiasm

The commitment of the Oblates with new enthusiasm in the new parish is especially to the fisher-families, both resident and migrant, without neglecting the people engaged in other occupations. From August 2015 till November 2017, Rev. Fr. Surain Danushka Fernando, OMI assisted Fr. Jesu Ramesh during weekends and Rev. Fr. Savindhu Senarathne, OMI assisted Fr. Jesu Ramesh from December 2017 till February 2019

One of the observable features in the pastoral life of the Oblates has been their shared leadership to serve the people selflessly. Besides ministering the sacraments and other liturgical rites, the Oblates have tried to respond to the felt needs of the people and of the social environment. Fr. Jesu Ramesh was quick in his ability to bring together children belonging to the four major Faiths (Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus) to sit together for the classes conducted in the English language on Saturdays at Kuchchaveli and promote also togetherness and fellowship among them. His pastoral the initiative had good results among the youth and adults in the area among the different ethnic and Faith / religious groups and also in the diocese since it had demonstrative effects in the parishes to start similar classes in

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English for children on Saturdays in the parishes. One of the observable results of these actions has been also the openness and readiness of the Muslims, enabling the migrant fisher-families to carry on their occupation in that Eastern coastal belt at Kuchchaveli.

OBLATES PROMOTE FELLOWSHIP AND TOGETHERNESS

Besides the Saturday English classes, the Oblates also promote Lakrivi- a Children’s Movement – which fosters togetherness, the advancement of human and spiritual values and virtues and leadership qualities among the children who belong to different racial and religious communities. So from childhood, they learn to respect and care for each other, transcending their racial and religious affiliations. Through these efforts, the priests try also to heal also the fear, anxiety and brokenness in the parents and in the children caused by the Easter Sunday terror attack on the Christians in the churches and on the foreigners in the hotels. Fr. Danushka concentrated also on Catechesis and education of children and Fr. Savindhu also concentrated also on providing the needed facilities and buildings for liturgical worship and community prayers. The three Oblates had to live with minimum comfort in the new territory (the parish) which had been destroyed by the ethnic war and the tsunami. Faced with poisonous snakes and wild elephants in the area, they had to live and serve to trust in the protection of God and the maternal care of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

On March 3, 2019, Rev. Fr. Subash Fernando, OMI succeeded Fr. Jesus Ramesh as the parish priest of Kuchchaveli. Besides ministering the Sacraments to the Catholics living in different villages (parish Centres) in the parish, Fr. Subash Fernando also hopes to educate, guide, counsel the people. Like his immediate predecessors ( Oblate Frs. Jesus Ramesh, Danushka Fernando and Savindhu Senarathne) who served the people in the parish of Kuchchaveli, Oblate Fr.Subash Fernando wants also to promote fellowship and solidarity among people of different Faiths in the parish of Kuchchaveli.

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In the Post-War Situation

Of the five-parish Centres in the parish of Kuchchaveli, the village of Kallarawa has a considerable number of Catholic families. In 1949, about eleven families from Bopitiya-Pamunugama in the Western Province of Sri Lanka came to the fishing village of Kallarawa. They had come with the owners of purse-seine (Madal, Karaivalai). They did not have permanent houses. A small church building dedicated to St. Anthony was constructed at Kallarawa with the financial assistance provided the owners of purse-seine. The annual feast of St. Anthony was celebrated by Rev. Fr. Arulappa in 1951. By the year 1960, the number of families increased to about forty. These families did not have facilities for transport, health care and education of their children. Eventually, this village became the largest purse seine Centre, north of Trincomalee town.

During the fishing season at Kallarawa, the fisher-families came annually from the Western coastal belt of Sri Lanka without fail. Between 1968 and 1977, there was a resident fishing population of about a hundred families. In 1978 a school was built. During the offseason (rough sea), the people were engaged in farming. The people lived joyfully at Kallarawa. After 1985 twenty new families settled down at Kallarawa. However, due to the war between the Sri Lankan government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the deaths of several people caused by LTTE between 1985 and 1995, the people became refugees in a school at the Mineral Sands Corporation. Those who lived in this village from 1949 to 1995 lost everything they owned. By June 1995, there were thirty-seven families in the army camp. Bishop Kingsley Swampillai condemned the killings by LTTE (Thinakaran, June 21, 1995)

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With the end of the war between the Sri Lankan army and LTTE, the fisher-families started coming again from the Western coastal belt of Sri Lanka. These families had to undergo untold hardships once again due to the tidal waves of Tsunami in December 2004. They lost practically everything they owned. Since Kallarawa was part of the parish of Nilaveli at that time, the then parish priest, Rev. Fr. G.Gunanayagam, OMI, spared no efforts to obtain financial assistance from generous Institutions and Organizations and provide houses and fishing gear (boats, engines, nets etc.) for the fishermen at Kallarawa who were victims of Tsunami.


Since February 2005, the Colombo Province of Oblates has begun once again to commit itself to bring a better quality of human and Christian life to the people at Kallarawa and also build better human relationships between the ethnic groups in the parish of Kuchchaveli, knowing, Jesus, our Divine Saviour came to gather together into one the scattered children of God (John 11:52).

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