12/12/2022, 16.30
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Chilaw: Sister Mary Theonilla at one hundred

by Melani Manel Perera

The parish of Nainamadama celebrated the long life of a member of the Apostolic Carmel, consecrated for 75 years. “I have experienced God's love in abundance,” she told AsiaNews. For a parishioner, she “extended her hands of mercy to the patients of the Maharagama Apeksha Hospital, and gave food and drink to starving people and those in war-torn areas.”


Colombo (Asia News) – The Diocese of Chilaw and the Congregation of the Apostolic Carmel celebrated the one hundredth birthday and 75 years of consecrated life of one of their members, Sister Mary Theonilla.

The celebration took place last Thursday at St Anthony Church in Nainamadama, with a solemn Eucharistic service led by Bishop Valence Mendis of Kandy, who is also Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Chilaw.

"I have experienced God's love in abundance,” said Sister Theonilla speaking to AsiaNews. “Since childhood I have experienced how much God loves me at every stage of my life. And I see it again today on this day of celebration.”

Born on 8 December 1922 in Wewala, Ja-Ela, in the Diocese of Colombo, she entered the convent of St Anne in Mangalore (India) in 1945 making her first profession in 1948. In Mangalore she continued her training until her solemn profession, on 25 May 1953.

After returning to Sri Lanka, she served for years as a teacher at St Anthony's Girls’ School, Colpetty, and in other schools. In 1982 she began her humanitarian service at St Mary's Convent, Muthur, Eastern Province.

For 30 years, Sister Theonilla carried out her mission in the parish of Nainamadama, where she still lives, at the convent of Saint Faustina.

She “extended her hands of mercy to the patients of the Maharagama Apeksha (cancer) Hospital, and gave food and drink to starving people and those in war-torn areas,” said Patrick Fernando about her long life, speaking on behalf of local parishioners.

“She worked everywhere, in all the provinces of the country, like Muttur and Trincomalee in the North-Eastern Province,” he noted. "For her exemplary and devoted life, we call her the ‘Rose Flower' of Nainamadama village.”

Addressing the nun in his homily, Bishop Mendis said: “Our people experienced God’s love through you for 75 years” of religious life. Today, we are not just celebrating the nice number of one hundred. We are celebrating a beautiful, an exemplary life, shown before us.

"It is impossible to live the life of Jesus without obedience, service, love given to everyone and accepting challenges. Sister Theonilla has accomplished all that. For this, we thank God for you and your congregation.”

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