Our Minister Provincial’s Visit to Sri Lanka

The Friars and people of Sri Lanka are grateful to our friars of Our Lady of the Angels Province, for making the new Formation House in Kandy possible. Because of the presence of a Pontifical Faculty in Kandy, the new house will serve as the Post-Novitiate site for the friars’ Philosophy and Theology studies.

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The friar-students hand made a welcome arch out of coconut palm fronds. The new Formation House was formerly a hotel with four stories which will ensure that the Friars will get ample daily exercise.

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The patron of the new Formation House is Sri Lanka’s first saint, the Indian missionary priest St. Joseph Vaz, who died in Kandy in 1711). Pope Francis canonized him in 2015 while on his papal visit to Sri Lanka.

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The Minister Provincial of St. Maximilian Kolbe Province in India, the Very Reverend Fr. Leo Payappilly, OFM Conv. (right), hosted our Minister Provincial, the Very Reverend Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv. (left), throughout his visit. The Indian Province established its first mission in Sri Lanka seven years ago.

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The local “Kandy Dancers” – famed for their acrobatics and whirling spirals – welcomed the local Bishop and the two Ministers Provincial to the celebration of the Inauguration and Blessing of the Formation House on Saturday, April 23, 2016. Bishop Joseph Vianney Fernando has been the Ordinary of Kandy for 33 years. He is well accustomed to being welcomed and escorted by the “Kandy Dancers.”

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Garlands of orchids were placed around the necks of the three guests of honor. About 200 people filled the courtyard of the friary for the celebration – religious of several male and female congregations, including all three groups of First Order friars, the TORs, neighbors of all faiths, and civic officials. Eight friars made the journey from India to share in the celebration. For all of them it was their first trip to the Sri Lanka.

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The elaborate “Inauguration” ceremony included lighting candles on a candelabra made by the friars out of the trunk, fronds, and flowers of the coconut tree. As the ceremony progressed, the big moment came for the cutting of the red ribbon – an honor accorded to our Minister Provincial. Bishop Fernando blessed each room of the new Friary, beginning with the Chapel.

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The Minor Seminarians from the Mission’s formation house in Katana (Colombo) made the four-hour journey to Kandy to participate in the festivities (pictured in the Chapel). On the second day of the celebrations, Sunday the 24th, Fr. James celebrated the first Mass in the newly inaugurated and blessed Chapel, and afterwards processed outside to bless the Grotto of Our Lady, which the seminarians themselves had constructed. Fr. James left a donation for the friars to get a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, which will eventually the grace the new Grotto.

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On his last day in Kandy, Fr. James received the renewal of vows of two simply professed friars doing theological studies there. Friar Senet Kanjiraparambil, OFM Conv. (pictured here) renewed his Simple Vows with Fr. James. He is the artist who masterminded all of the decorative arrangements with the fronds and stocks and branches of the coconut palm trees.