(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has appointed a new bishop to the Diocese of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka. Monsignor Justin Bernard 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 Diocese of Jaffna, Msgr. Gnanapragasam entered the minor seminary of Jaffna and continued his secondary school at St. Patrick’s College. After studying 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.
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