St. Peter’s Rector celebrates Silver Jubilee
Such an occasion definitely needs a celebration and that’s exactly
what it was on July 16 at St. Peter’s College, Colombo 4. The occasion
was the Sacerdotal Silver Jubilee of the Rector, Rev. Fr. Travis Jude
The gentle, chilly breeze that blew across the College Quadrangle
created a seraphic atmosphere in which the presence of the Holy Spirit
of God was very evident. Prayers of Thanksgiving emanated from every
heart and soul as the Silver Jubilarian was led in procession to the
Altar for the concelebrated Festive Mass. Episcopal Vicars, Very Rev.
Fr. Ivan Perera, Very Rev. Fr. Bonnie Fernandopulle, Very Rev. Fr. Elmo
Dias and Rev. Fr. Ranjith Madurawela the General Manager for Private
Schools together with the Chief Celebrant, Rev. Fr. Travis Gabriel
offered a Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving to God Almighty for a
fruitful journey of twenty five long years in the Lord’s Vineyard.
Members of the family, Rev. Fathers. Rev. Sisters, Rectors, Principals,
well-wishers, members of the OBU, P T A Welfare Society, tutorial staff,
non academic staff and student body joined in thanking God Almighty for
the wonderful gift of priestly vocation.
Rev. Fr. Travis Gabriel celebrates Holy Mass
The homily was preached by Rev. Fr. Cecil Joy Perera who is a close
compatriot of the Rector as they are both from the Kotte Parish. It was
a soul stirring sermon in which he spoke about the stamp of God which
marks a Priest right from the time of conception. He urged young
Peterites to answer God’s call and not to ignore it. The Papal Blessing
was imparted on the Silver Jubilarian by Very Rev. Fr. Ivan Perera.
The General Assembly commenced with the traditional drum beats
accompanied by the swivels and swirls of the Kandyan dancers. The Rector
was garlanded by the student who obtained the best results at the G.C.E
(O/L) Examination while the youngest Peterite on roll worshipped him as
he reached the podium. The hoisting of the Papal, National and College
Flags followed by the singing of the College Anthem set the tone for the
august ceremony ahead. The College Air Cadet Corps then accorded a
Guard-of-Honour to the Rector. The proceedings included a Profile of the
Rector and Speeches of Appreciation by representatives from the Tutorial
Staff, Non-Academic Staff and the Student Body. Specially composed
selections by the Western Choir reverberated through the air from time
to time. A commemorative plaque from the Peterite Family and many other
souvenirs were then presented to the Rector.
Silver Jubularian, Rev. Fr. Travis Gabriel was the cynosure of all
eyes as he rose to address the gathering. He began by thanking God
Almighty for his Priestly Vocation. He has answered the Lord’s call as a
teenager under the guidance of Rev. Fr. Stanley Abeysekera who had been
both the Parish Priest of St. Thomas’ Church, Kotte and the Rector of
St. Thomas’ College, Kotte at that time. He also encouraged more
Peterites to answer God’s call if and when it comes. He stressed the
fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary had always been with him all through
his life - she had never ever failed him. He attributes this deep
devotion, especially to the Lady of the Miraculous Medal, to his dear
Mother who had instilled it in all her children.
It was indeed a very emotional moment when he remembered his deceased
parents and thanked them for their love and support. He also thanked his
brothers and sisters who had played a major role in his Priestly
Recollecting the years he had served under the Rectorship of the late
Rev. Fr. Joe. E. Wickremasighe, he said, “He was my Mentor. He taught me
the ABC’s of Education and School Management.
I will always remember with gratitude.” He added, “Many others,
including all my Rectors too have played a great role during these
twenty five years. I thank them all with a sincere heart.”
He finally thanked the Peterite Priest Community for organizing the
day’s function under the leadership of the Vice-Rector, Rev. Fr. Anton
Ranjith together with the entire Peterite Family. He thanked all who had
graced the occasion with their presence and prayers.
The most poignant moment of the day was when the Silver Jubilarian
worshipped his Vocation Director, Rev. Fr. Stanley Abeysekera who
blessed him with a fatherly embrace and a happy smile.
The Silver Jubilee Celebrations concluded with a festive lunch for
the entire Staff and musical entertainment for the students. The toast
at the lunch was proposed by the former Rector, Rev. Fr. Felician
Ranjith Perera, in his own inimitable style. A slide presentation
featuring important events in the Rector’s life from childhood to
present day was shown during lunch.
It was everyone’s wish that Silver Jubilee Bells may turn into Golden
Jubilee Bells in another twenty five years. AD MULTOS ANNOS!
Archbishop Desmond Tutu retires
Archbishop Desmond Tutu announced Thursday he was withdrawing from
public life after decades at the forefront of the struggle against
apartheid and injustice around the world.
“I have done as much as I can and need time to do things I have
really wanted to do. I do want a little more quiet,” the Nobel laureate
told a press conference at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. “On
October 7, I turn 79 years old, and withdraw from public life,” he
said.“Instead of growing old gracefully, at home with my family —
reading and writing and praying and thinking — too much of my time has
been spent at airports and in hotels,” he added.
“The time has now come to slow down, to sip Rooibos (redbush) tea
with my beloved wife in the afternoons, to watch cricket, to travel to
visit my children and grandchildren, rather than to conferences and
conventions and university campuses. AFP
Religious leaders call for ‘pragmatic approach’ to AIDS
Representatives of major religions called Wednesday for a “pragmatic
approach” to the fight against AIDS and greater involvement by faith
A document released on the sidelines of the 18th International AIDS
Conference in the Austrian capital called for religions “to work
unceasingly to end the stigmatisation and discrimination” suffered by
those with the disease.
The document, which had been agreed at a forum in Amsterdam in March,
was signed by representatives of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu,
Buddhist, Sikh and Baha’i faiths.
The document called for a “pragmatic approach” in the fight against
the disease, and urged religious groups to take a more active role,
despite the hostility of some religious leaders — notably Pope Benedict
XVI — to the use of condoms.
“We want to do all we can to save lives. We need an HIV competent
church,” said Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, who heads the Young Women’s
Christian Association (YWCA). “Our recommendation to faith communities
is to provide fully accessible and comprehensive sexual and reproductive
health information to women and girls which will enable them to make a
decision,” she said.
“The Church has to accept this,” she added.
Hany El Banna, president of Muslim organisation Humanitarian Forum,
said it was necessary to begin a dialogue with more conservative
“We need to educate our religious leaders,” he said.
Why Christianity... Continued from last week
* St. Camillus, a wild ex-soldier with a broken leg, given to drink
and gambling who convented and spent the next 36 years of life working
22 hours a day attending to the sick in hospitals amidst the filth and
insanitary conditions of the time.
St. Peter Claver (1610) who loured for 38 years at the first slave
market in the New World at Catagena washing, cleaning and disinfecting
half naked Negro slaves, both men and women after they were brought in
the lower decks of ships, starved, dispirited, and with layers of human
excretions of all lypes all over their bodies, that gave not such an
umber able, stench, that other workers refused to do the work.
* St. Maximillian Cobly who offered his life in place of a fellow
prisoner (a distraught father) whose turn it was no be shot and
eliminated that day in a German concentration camp during world war II.
No one can know about God and his nature unless that God revealed
himself. Christinality in thus a revealed religion. God first spoke to
his people through his prophets as revealed in the Old Testament.
That book is a fore-runner that anticipated the main saga that was to
be enacted when God revealed himself in person by taking human from
through the agency of the second person of the Trinity, namely Jesus
Christ. This is recorded in the New Testament. Both these sacred texts
taken together form the essence of the Christian message. An important
aspect of this message is that God created the physical universe and all
living things within it. Another of Professor Wickremasinghe’s
statements int eh article referred to, although a mere statement of
fact, lends support to this claim.
He stated the universe in not of infinite duration but had a
beginning 14.5 billion years ago in the explosion referred to as the Big
Bang. According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity the explosion
had to be a tiny speck of highly condensed energy hovering around zero
radius and infinite density.
Speculation is rife in scientific circles as to whether the big Bang
explosion is a singular event in time or whether it is the result of
some other happenings preceding it. Some attribute the Big Bang
explosion to “cosmic inflation” whatever that means, others to
micro-wave radiation, still others (Professor stephen Hawking FRS,
adopting the quantum theory) to actualization of possible “baby”
universe into the real. (our universe) All this is Greek to us laymen
and the less we delve into them the better is is for our composure.
But one thing is beyond question – the only scientifically
established fact is that the universe started with the Big Bang
explosion that crated 4 dimensional space – time. What would have
transpired before the Big Bang would be beyond this four dimensional
continues where the laws of physics do not operate and scientists become
To get over the difficulty they introduced the concept of
multi-dimensional or super space ie, space with in space. If they are to
be consistent they will have to take that process ad infinitum stopping
half way gives rise to the same implications as for the Big Bang –
namely a singular act of creation by a transcendent God. Proceeding up
to an infinitude makes the series itself of God quality since subsisting
in its own right.
This is the Hindu concept of God – a God immanent in the universe and
creating, sustaining and destroying it at the appropriate time
(pantheism). Therefore whatever is the way one looks at the problem you
are confronted with a creator God.
In this welter of scientific theory and philosophical speculation one
cannot scoff at the description given in the book of Genesis (old
testament) of how God crated the universe in six days and rested on the
seventh, for that was a message given to an ancient people circa 2000 BC
in the language and idiom of the time. It would be puerile to expect
that message to be conched in modern scientific jargon which was not
even extant at time.
As for the emergence of life within the physical universe, the weight
of authority is against self animation by matter. I quote Dr. Goswani,
Professor of theoretical nuclear physics, University of Oregon, “The
argument presented by serious intelligent design theorists (Behe 1996)
that life has an irreducible complexity built into it that makes it
impossible to build life from matter via chance. Using quantum physics I
have made this argument fool proof – page 100 (God is not dead).
Fr. Jacome Gonsalvez ... Continued from last week
Indigenisation of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka:
‘Oppari’ contained pathos said to be seldom found in prose or verse
in any langauge. At one time Catholic women from Negombo who used to
chant Oppari at funerals were misunderstood as ‘hired mourners’.
During the Dutch times, Bolawatta, where Fr Jacome Gonsalvez stayed
most was a centre of Catholic cultural activity. During Christmas and
more specially at Easter, Catholic rituals were performed there with all
There were lovely scenes with drama, processions and passion plays
with prayers and hymns written by Fr Jacome Gonsalvez.
Catholics were the pioneers of Sinhala nadagam. Here too the
influence of Fr Jacome Gonsalvez is seen.
Some of the themes of earlier nadagam were drawn from his works. His
compositions too have influenced lyrics and songs in them.
Thus Fr Jacome Gonsalvez laid the foundation to evolve an indigenous
Catholic Church in Sri Lanka. He presented Catholic forms, prayers and
practices in terms of indigenous thought.
He brought about a synthesis between Christian concepts and
Today so much emphasis is placed on indigenisation and cultural
adaptation in the Church.
Since of late there is a tendency among some to introduce extraneous
forms and practices in the name of inculturation. To some cultural
adaptation means slavishly imitating Buddhist and Hindu forms and
At times fantastic rituals are performed in churches without due
regard for dignity and holiness of the service. There are also some who
suggest an indigenous theology. Christianity is God given and not
manmade. It is universal, transcendental and supra-cultural. You cannot
categorise Christian doctrine as Western theology, Eastern theology,
Eskimo theology or Sri Lankan theology. On the other hand religion is a
powerful force in the formation and development of culture.
A universal religion like Christianity has some cultural elements
that do not vary from country to country and century to century.
The Christian cultural traits, in course of time would intermingle
with the native culture to give the Church in that country a distinct
The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has a proud history of its own for
over 500 years.
During this time it has evolved an identity of its own. During the
Dutch times the Church in Sri Lanka witnessed a magnificent cultural
adaptation under the oratorians like Blessed Joseph Vaz and Fr. Jacome
As the late Bishop Edmund Peiris vividly put it, “We Catholics must
catch up the strand where the real creators of Sinhala-Catholic
synthesis has left it and develop and enrich it to suit the modern
conditions in the Church as well as in the country.”
The writer is a former President of Newman Society Alumni Association
Vatican begins circulating euros
A 50-cent euro coin bearing the image of Pope Benedict XVI has begun
circulating in Vatican City for the first time since the Holy See
adopted the currency in 2002, a news report said Thursday.
For eight years the Vatican City euros served only as popular
collectors’ items, initially featuring the face of Benedict’s
predecessor John Paul II, who died in 2005. The current collectors’ set,
with a face value of 3.88 euros, sells for 30 euros (38.6 dollars).Under
an agreement reached with the European Union last year, however, the
Vatican must circulate at least 51 percent of its currency at face
value, and the Holy See last week began using its 50-cent coins to
satisfy the requirement. The agreement also more than doubled the amount
of euros the world’s smallest state can mint, the religious news agency
i.Media reported. But the coins are still be hard to come by. They can
be found only inside Vatican walls, in businesses patronised by
residents and workers including a supermarket and a petrol station,
where employees cannot give out more than two coins at a time, i.Media
Euro coins have a common reverse side portraying a map of Europe, but
each country in the 16-member eurozone has its own design on the
Feast of Our Lady of Voyage
Duwa Oru Mangallaya
The annual festival of “Our Lady of
Voyages” of Duwa Negombo held recently. After the festive
service the statue of Our Lady was taken by boat in a procession
route through the Negombo Lagoon and along the sea. Picture by
H. FernandoNegombo Special Corr.
Rev. Fr. Nadeera Fernando of Mission
House, Kal-Eliya won the first place in home garden contest
conducted in the Gampaha District. Here Fr. Nadeera Fernando
receives the award from Agriculture Export Department, Gampaha
Director-General W. D. L. Gunaratna. Picture by Nimal Jayasinha,
Gampaha roving corr.