St. Anthony’s Feast at Kachchativu Church celebrated on successful note
The St. Anthony's sacred Church on Kachchativu Island has long been the pinnacle of reverence of both Indian and Sri Lankan Catholic devotees. Giving precedence to customary rituals, the annual feast of the St. Anthony's Church was celebrated today (12), on a successful note. This year’s feast marked the first of its kind conducted upon the completion of new church by the Sri Lanka Navy.
The Feast Mass was attended by the Vicar General of the Diocese of Jaffna, Very Revd. Fr. Pathinathar Josephthas Jebaratnam District Secretary of Jaffna, Mr. N.Vethanayahan, Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, Commander Security Force Jaffna, Major General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander Northern Naval Area, Rear Admiral Piyal De Silva, Jaffna Deputy Inspector General of Police Sanjeewa Dharmaratne, senior officers and a large number of sailors.
Apart from that, 6,700 Sri Lankan Catholic devotees as well as a large number of religious dignitaries including sisters were in attendance. Meanwhile the Feast Mass was conducted by Bishop of Jaffna, His Lordship Rt. Revd. Dr. Justin Bernard Gnanapragasam.
This historic church which has long been a place of religious importance of both Indian and Sri Lankan devotees, has been too small to accommodate large number of votaries and less facilitated. On completion of the last year’s feast, held on 21st February, Bishop of Jaffna, His Lordship Rt. Revd. Dr. Justin Bernard Gnanapragasam indicated the requirement of constructing a new Church on Kachchativu Island prior the annul feast of 2017. Responding positively to the request of Rev. Bishop, Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne issued directives to a dedicated team of naval personnel to undertake the construction of new Church with immediate effect. As a result, the foundation stone of this new church was laid on 09th May last year by Commander Northern Naval Area, Rear Admiral Piyal De Silva and the construction work soon ensued. Turning a new chapter of reconciliation the Government of Sri Lanka’s, movement towards accountability for sustainable peace, the Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne bestowed the newly constructed St. Anthony's Church on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jaffna on 23rd December 2016.
The Sri Lanka Navy also provided meals and all infrastructure facilities, including installation of sanitary and drinking water facilities. Temporary jetties were made ready for people to secure their boats conveniently, and special SLN lifesaving including medical teams were deployed to ensure the safety of the devotees attending the annual festival.
In parallel with this religious event, the Delft Jetty and Kachchathivu Pier were also declared open by Commander of the Navy yesterday (11) facilitating the daily commuting common citizens in those areas, by boats. Further, a mega water distribution project was also declared open yesterday at the village of Nallinakkapuram.