Pope Francis appoints new bishop of Jaffna

pope_francisPope Francis has appointed Monsignor Justin Bernard Gnanapragasam as the new bishop to the Diocese of Jaffna, Vatican Radio announced.

Gnanapragasam, the Vicar General of the diocese is the new bishop of Jaffna.  The 67 year old priest takes over from Bishop Thomas Savundaranayagam, who has stepped down having reached the retirement ager of 75 two years ago.   Bishop Savundaranayagam who had been Bishop of Mannar since 1981, was transferred to Jaffna in 1992.

Born, May 13, 1948, in Karampon, ‎Kayts, ‎in the Diocse of Jaffna, Msgr. Gnanapragasam entered the minor seminary of Jaffna and continued his secondary school at St. Patrick’s ‎College. After his philosophy at the national seminary of Kandy and theology at the Papal ‎Seminary di Poona, in India, he was ordained to the priesthood on April 24, 1974. ‎  Currently he is director of the diocesan press and examiner of doctoral thesis at Jaffna University.

After his ordination he has served various capacities:

‎1974-1975:‎      Assistant parish priest of Kilinochchi and Valaipadu‎

‎1975-1976:‎      Assistant parish priest ‎ of Uruthirapuram;

‎1976-1979:‎      Assistant parish priest ‎ in S. Anna, Ilavalai

‎1979-1980:‎      Studied ecumenical theology at Hull University, UK

‎1980-1985:‎      Parish priest of Mareesankoodal and vice rector of St. Henry’s College, Jaffna

‎1986-1989:‎      Studied education science at Southampton, UK

‎1990-1994:‎      Director of a group of state schools and rector of St. Henry’s College, Jaffna

‎1995-2002: ‎     Dean of the Ilavalai Deanary comprising 9 parishes of Jaffna

‎1992-2006:‎      Visiting Professor of the major seminary of Jaffna;

‎2002-2007:‎      Rector of St. Patrick’s College, Jaffna;‎

dal 2002:‎         Examiner of doctoral theses, Jaffna University

dal 2007:‎         Vicar Geneeral of Jaffna;

dal 2008:‎         Director of Jaffna press

Created in 1886, Jaffna Diocese is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Colombo.  Extending over and area of of ‎‎4,400 sqkm with a total population of some 1.5 million, it has 247,315  Catholics, spread across 59 parishes. They are served by ‎162 priests, 97 religious brothers and 230 sisters. (Colombo Gazette)


  1. A most deserving appointment and a very delayed appointment.
    May the almighty God always bless and guide him to effectively discharge his onerous responsibilities.

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