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Monday, 14 March 2011

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The new Bishop-elect:

Spiritual leader of great humility

‘Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised; Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires’ (Mathew-5)

These few lines and the rest from the Sermon on the Mount inspired and changed the course of life in Mahathma Gandhi’s thinking. Today, it is this inspiration that our new Bishop-elect Ven Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey is influenced with.


Venerable Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey, Bishop-elect of the Anglican Church of Ceylon being greeted by former Bishop, Dulip Chickera

He was elected as the 15th Bishop of the Anglican community in Sri Lanka at a special Diocesan Council Meeting at the Cathedral, unanimously and uncontested by both clergy and laity by the Constitution that require two thirds majority. He simply swept through as the most popular choice in recent times. He will succeed Bishop Dulip Chickera who retired in December. 2010.

His appointment is subject to confirmation by the Archbishop of Canterbury head of the Anglican Church worldwide. The Queen is the defender of the faith, Ven Dhillo’s consecration is scheduled for May 14, 2011.

Bishop-elect, Ven Dhilo Canagasabey is truly a man of God who waited in the wings until the call of God to lead his people at a very turbulent time when nations in the Middle-East are rising against their leaders, especially where Jesus Christ was born, preached and sacrificed His life to save all of us.

Some Christians are persecuted and churches bombed. In the background of this troubled world, the Lord has saved and given us a true spiritual leader to pray and guide His flock.

Ven Dhilo was born on May 23, 1955 in Batticaloa and had his early education at St Michael’s College, Batticaloa. After his studies, he joined the hotel industry as Management Trainee at Hotel School and later worked at Hotel Oberoi for five years.

But this was not his vocation. The Lord had lined up more significant area in his life and he answered the God’s call to the Ministry by joining the Theological College of Lanka in 1977 and was ordained a Deacon, May 27, 1983.

He was ordained as a priest on June 3, 1983 by the then Bishop, Swithin Fernando at Holy Trinity Church, Nuwara Eliya.

There was no turning back for Ven Dhilo because he was appointed as the Arch-deacon of Nuwara Eliya on December 17, 1997. God had planned a busy life for the young archdeacon. While being in charge of the Nuwara Eliya Diocese, he served several parishes as vicar in that archdeconery while meeting the Diocese needs. He also served as the Chaplain of St Thomes College, Bandarawela and acted as Head-Master during its troubled period. His Area covered the upcountry, Uva and Easter Provinces which were the biggest in terms of areas covered by our Diocese.

Ven Dhilo worked tireless and relentlessly. He seldom paused in his duties. He was available to each and every one who needed him no matter what time of the day or night it was. Apart from his spiritual commitments, Ven Dhilo served as Chairman on several committees. His dedication and efforts in the Estate Community Development program where a great deal of work had been done is unparallel.

With the retirement of Archdeacon Godwin Weerasuriya, he has served as the Bishop’s stand-in when His Lordship was away.

He is blessed with a very supportive wife and two loving children. With a gift for speaking in all three languages, Ven Dhilo has the power of drawing people to the mission of the Lord.

He is a person who stands above the rest because of his humility being simple and humble through his journey of spirituality.

Ven Dhilo after his training at the Theological College in Pilimatalawa, went on to obtain his Bachelor of Divinity degree from the University of Serenpore, India.

Few years back at a Diocese Council meet where I represented my church, I was downed with a small problem I could not resolve.

During lunch time where over 300 delegates were present for the fellowship meal, I sat under a tree wondering what to do when someone merged before eyes from among the teeming chatty crowd. He had spotted my isolation and waked over to find out why I was sulking. I was taken aback but the good shepherd in him made me feel alright. That was the first time I met and spoke to Ven Dhilo and ever since, my abiding adoration to him grew stronger.

Today, he stands steadfastly with a mighty responsibility on his shoulders to sustain and spearhead the Anglican community in Sri Lanka in faith and God’s grace.

‘The Lord is my shepherd - I have everything I need

He lets me rest in pastures of green grass

And leads me to quiet pools of fresh water

He gives me new strength - He guides me in the right path as he has promised

Even if I go through the deepest darkness. I will not be afraid

Lord, for you are with me.

Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me.....

(Psalm 23, 1-4)


Don’t rub off your ashes, says Bishop


Praying on Ash Wednesday

People prayed during an Ash Wednesday service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Catholics should try not to rub their ashes off after Ash Wednesday Mass, an English Bishop has said.

Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, who heads the Department of Evangelisation and Catechesis, called upon Catholics across Britain to wear “the outward sign of our inward sorrow for our sins and for our commitment to Jesus as Our Lord and Saviour”.

He said, “The wearing of the ashes provides us with a wonderful opportunity to share with people how important our faith is to us and to point them to the cross of Christ. I invite you where possible to attend a morning or lunchtime Mass.

“Please try not to rub off your ashes as soon as you leave the church, but take the sign of the cross to all those that you meet - in your school, office, factory, wherever you may be. This might just make people curious and wonder why you would do this. If you explain about Lent and Easter it might just make them think and may even awaken in them the questions that might lead to faith. Many people have a dim awareness of Lent and even ashes. It would be good to make this clear rather than dim.

“Don’t underestimate the power of this simple action and wear your ashes as not only a sign of the beginning of your Lenten journey, but also to witness to your greatest treasure in life. This small step could awaken faith in the hearts of many that you meet in a way that words could never do.” Catholics received ashes at Mass on Ash Wednesday where they were reminded of their own mortality when the priest said, “From ashes to ashes”. The ashes are made from the fronds of palm used on Palm Sunday of the previous year.

Courtesy: Catholic Herald


Centenary of the arrival of Marist Brothers to Ceylon:

Marist Brothers, champions of Catholic Education

It was on March 24, 1911 that five Brothers, Peter Leo, Paul Leo, Francis Anthony, Jules Lawrence and Marie Chrysostom from Saint Denis Laval in France arrived in Sri Lanka, then Ceylon. These missionaries began their mission at St. Michael’s College Batticaloa, a school administered by the Jesuits.

The Brothers learnt English and Tamil, Tamil being the language spoken by the majority in the eastern region. Having learnt the local languages Marist pioneers laid the foundation of enculteration and soon moved from the east to the western part of the country.

They who proved to be very audacious in their mission, spreading the Good News through the medium of education, came to Negombo at the invitation of Archbishop Coudert and were warmly welcomed by Very Rev Fr Milliner OMI the then Parish Priest of Grand Street Negombo.

Marist mission

Their faith-filled hearts and vision enriched Marist mission in Ceylon. St. Mary’s College, Negombo, Maris Stella College Negombo, Joseph Vaz College Wennappuwa, Christ King College Thudella, St. Joseph’s College Bandarawela are some of the leading schools administered by Marist Pioneers. We should agree that era of English education began to fade out unfortunately as the state policy of Swabasha came into prominence. Not only Marist Brothers but also many religious orders lost their best of the schools along with their discipline and English education. What was done cannot be undone. Maris Stella the strong hold of Marist Brothers was the only school that was secured without being stolen.

Treasure

Holy Cross College Kalutara another treasure of Marist Brothers that was nurtured, was also grabbed from their grip. At present Marist administration is treasured at St Joseph’s College Nugegoda, and St. Mary’s College Chilaw.

Yet Marist Brothers extend their service to the needy and the poor in Kalpitiya and Jaffna. People of Kalpitiya and the islands owe a debt of gratitude to Marist Brothers especially to Rev. Br. Lal Fonseka and Rev Br Laza for their yeoman service in this scorching sun. Rev. Brothers Nicholas and Francis serve the needy children in guiding and teaching them for their future well-being.

Electro Vocational Institute run by the Marist Brothers in Negombo opens avenues for young school leavers and exam failures for vocational training and being well established in their respective skills here and abroad. Rev Br Victor Fernando along with his devout staff is turning the wheel ahead.

Marist Farm

Renowned Marist Farm yet another Marist treasure and the Noviatite are located in Thudella. Sri Lankan, Indian and Pakistan Novices are formed under the watchful eyes of Rev Bros Joseph Florentius and Godfrey Perera.

Some senior Brothers extend their brotherly hands to the parish activities at Haldanduwana in Chilaw Diocese.

Though I have not seen all those Pioneers and the early Brothers like Rev Brothers Joseph, Julian, Lewis and Conran I have known and associated with Brothers like Rev Brothers Peter Berchmans, Paul Nizier, Valentine and Raphael, they provided me enough evidences as to how they have contributed to their chosen field of education. They are real educationists but simple great brothers in the true sense of the word. Rev Br Gerard Peiris (89), the most senior Brother of the present Congregation is also fondly remembered.

Appreciation

Being a proud Maristonian who was nurtured and well nourished, I am obliged to pen this appreciation of Marist Brothers who gifted me free education and formation, a priceless gift I treasure in abundance.

Let this be a modest tribute to all Marist Brothers and especially to dearly beloved Rev Br Gregory Aloycious, the then Provincial and Principal of College who gifted me free admission and Rev Br Clinton Perera, the Principal throughout my school education and Rev Br Joseph Fonseka, my primary Principal, Rev Br Linus Fernando my teacher in primary grades and Rev. Br. Shanthi Liyanage, the Prefect of Boarders. These true illustrious of Saint Marcellin Champagnat who are behind my success are respectfully remembered.

Free education

If Brother Gregory Aloysius had not extended his sincere generous hands towards me and gifted me free education and all the other Brothers had not treated me equally and humanely with the affluent friends in the College and hostel, my destiny would have unquestionably been changed. I am ever grateful to Marist Brothers, the designers of my life, for what I am today. On many occasions people have inquired from me whether I was in a seminary somewhere.

That is the formation that shaped my personality. Therefore I proudly say, “No I am a Maristonian.” That is the best reward I can offer to my Alma Mater. Brother Clinton Perera who is a brilliant scholar guided the destiny of Marist Stella for over twenty years and it was during that period of time that he, together with the staff geared the College up to a standard that was on a par with the best of any other school in the country.

Discipline

As the principal, he was especially hard on the students where discipline was concerned but he was dear to all of us. When he walked round the school in full majesty twice a day during the first period and after lunch interval, there was a pin drop silence in the entire school. When he stood in front of the College chapel the entire school remained in great silence.

We have experienced enough of that great silence and that was a part of our disciplinary formation.

He is a martinet who demanded perfect discipline and that turned those Maristonians to be disciplinary. He trusted firmly that discipline and education are twin brothers who should walk abreast.

That brilliant attitude brought glory to Maris Stella College and that transition expanded the student population rapidly. Rev Br Joseph Fonseka, who is deeply religious as he is, saw to the spiritual welfare of all with great enthusiasm in his tenure as the Primary Principal.

Rev Br Linus one of my primary grade teachers was a lover of picnics and passionately fond of long tours. Unless he organized all those annual trips many of us would have lost the opportunity of enjoying the beauty of Sri Lanka. We as old boys still cherish the sweet memories of our picnics to Yala, Wilpattu and Nuwaraeliya etc.

Discrimination

Rev Br Shanthi Liyanage, the present Marist Provincial was my favourite prefect of boarders. He had a sympathetic ways in him. He did not give room for any discrimination. He was a real gentleman. Once he was my English teacher who coached me lucidly.

Rev Br Michael De Waas, who was the Provincial of Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, is currently serving as a General Councillor of Marist Brothers in Rome. He is the first ever Sri Lankan who has been elevated to such a position in the Congregation.

Marist Brothers have designed and shaped the veterans of Maris Stella College in all the professions and fields under the sun and they stand firm and serve here and abroad as loyal Maristonians. May Marist Brothers in Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan who solely contribute to the well being of education be blessed with vocations and guidance of the Holy Spirit to steer the wheel towards success.


Ash Wednesday, dustification and end of world

In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust and to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:19).

Dustification of the creation

Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lent, is not a day for misery and self-pity, but a day for deep repentance and radical conversion. Ash Wednesday is ready to take away our ashen faces. Ash Wednesday is a day of aspiration, assistance, assurance and ascent towards spiritual magnanimity.

Humans are earthly creatures through and through and our destiny is organically and necessarily tied up with the health and happiness of the earth. We are not flying creatures such as eagles, crows, hawks, parrots and mocking birds. This fantasy about space travels and colonizing other planets is a very comforting illusion and can at best become an escape from our earthly, clayish, ashy, soily, dusty and fleshy reality. Even if we develop the technological capability to settle down in another planet, what guarantee would we have that we are not going to destroy it the way we have plundered, raped and devastated the mother earth?

What is fundamentally and very urgently required of us is transformation of our consciousness and our daily lifestyles, not so much space exploration for exploitative enterprises. Earth is our second skin without which human life is absolutely impossible. Our malnourished and anorexic perspective on dust is gathering dust and it is high time to dust it off. The one who cherishes the earth cherishes the universe entire. By the same token, the one who destroys the earth destroys the universe entire. The enemies of the earth are the enemies of God and the friends of the earth are friends of God too.

Sanctification of the dust

Dusts sing of a presence that is sacred, divine and holy and that hymn is the essence its luminosity. The whole dusty earth is an enchanted kingdom. Dusts contain the splendour of God and reflect the glory of God.

God’s creativity and originality is ever active, flows and flares forth in and through dusts and ashes. His creative energy pulsates in dust. There is no such a thing as cosmic energy apart from divine energy. God is the fountain of cosmic energy. No energy can give birth to itself. No energy can create itself out of nothing. There is a Creator of all energy. This prodigious cosmic creativity, this mind-blowing and mind-buggling cosmic energy is never arbitrary or auto-generated. Cosmic energy is borrowed-energy from God.

Matter has a mysterious and a metaphysical dimension. Dustification is part and parcel of divine justification. There is no sanctification of the human person without dustification.

Evolution is dust becoming alive, vibrant and reflectively conscious. Earth is a living and pulsating organism. Divine incarnation is sanctification of dust and dustification of the Sacred. Dusts possess a psychic inwardness and a multifaceted consciousness received from and given by its Creator. The evolving and expanding universe is a celebratory event, a glorious reality. The earth is becoming increasingly alive, giggling and pulsating.

To be continued next week

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