09/16/2010, 00.00
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Gnana Oli, first Catholic newspaper in Tamil

by Melani Manel Perera
Published by the Archdiocese of Colombo, the paper covers all aspects of the news. It will provide Tamil Catholics a wider coverage of the life of the Church. Colombo Catholics welcome the new publication with enthusiasm and satisfaction. Its creators speak about it.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The first issue of Gnana Oli (light of wisdom), the first newspaper destined to Tamil-speaking Catholics living in the Archdiocese of Colombo, was a smash-hit among the faithful who are enthusiastic about a paper that “is very close to our hearts and minds” and “in our own language”.

Gnana Oli has a broad coverage, including news, analyses, Episcopal messages, a children’s page and an educational section for students; altogether, 16 pages at a cost of twenty rupees (less than a cent US), the same cost of the other two Catholic newspapers already in circulation. For now, it will be published on a monthly basis, on the first Sunday of the month. Its first run of 4,200 copies came out last 5 September in an elegant format. Other dioceses have already asked for copies.

Fr Rohan De Alwis, director of Colombo Catholic Press, told AsiaNews that his newspaper fills an important gap. In fact, Tamil-speaking Tamils have been complaining for the lack of publications in their own language. Even official documents are published only in Sinhala and English, not Tamil.

“First, I discussed the project with Fr Emmanuel Fernando, our vicar general for Tamils,” he said. “I then talked to Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith about publishing a newspaper in Tamil. He gave me his blessing and offered his cooperation.”

“We are going to use this newspaper to raise awareness among Tamil Catholics of the ‘Year of the Eucharist’ currently underway” in the country. “We shall publish every announcement or circular about the Year.”

The paper is open to contributions from Tamil Catholics, who can send in articles or analyses.

Tamil Catholics who spoke to AsiaNews reacted favourably to the new newspaper, happy that they can get news in their own language.

“We have been waiting for years for this newspaper,” said Iren Ragel, from Kandana parish. “Now we are happy and closer to the Church, thanks to this newspaper.”

This is especially important according to Young Marian Jesudasan because so many Tamil Catholics do not speak other languages.

Official figures show that out of 141 parishes that make up the Archdiocese of Colombo, 28 have a Tamil majority that celebrates Mass in Tamil. Overall, there are 15 Tamil priests and 400 Tamil educators who teach in Sunday schools.

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