The foundation stone of the church was laid on Wednesday after it was blessed by the Vicar General of the Jaffna Diocese, Rev.Joseph Das Jebaratnam, in the presence of the Deputy Commander of the SLN in Jaffna, Com. Meril Sudarshana, and the Parish Priest, Fr.Anthony Jeyaranjan.
Naval spokesman Captain Akram Alavi told Express that the construction will be completed in six months so that the next St.Anthony’s Feast (February 2017), could be conducted there.
Built over an area of about 3,500 sq ft, the church will cost LKR 10 million (US $68,617). The tab will be taken by the Lankan Ministry of Christian Affairs, the Governor of the Northern Province, the Bishop of Jaffna, and well wishers.
During the Feast this year, the Bishop of Jaffna had requested SLN chief, Vice Adm Ravi Wijegunaratne, to construct a new church as the existing one is too small to accommodate the thousands who come from various parts of Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu.
“The navy was asked to do the work because the island is in mid sea and landing craft have to be used to ferry materials from the mainland,” Capt.Alavi explained.
“The navy has undertaken to design and construct the church using its labor and transport facilities,” he added.
Visiting Jaffna after a meeting of the India-Sri Lanka Foundation’s board in Colombo on Monday, G Parthasarathy, a former diplomat, informally met the Jaffna Fishermen’s Association, besides the Northern Province Governor, Reginold Cooray, Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran, and the local Lankan Security Forces Commander.
Reliable sources told Express that while Governor Cooray seemed keen on economic development and getting Indian assistance for it, Chief Minister Wigneswaran was dismissive about it, saying that the need of the hour is not economic development but a political solution to the Tamil question.
Parthasarthy has a keen interest in Sri Lanka and its Tamil question as he was in charge of publicity in the MEA and the Prime Minister’s Office during the India-Sri Lanka Accord and the induction of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in 1987. An electrical engineer by training, he was also a commissioned officer of the Indian Army from 1963 to 1968.
Meanwhile, National Fish Workers Forum Chairperson M Illango, has urged the Union government to intervene and stop Sri Lanka from constructing a church at the Katchatheevu Island. He also called upon the political parties in Tamil Nadu to do the same. (Colombo Gazette)