05/13/2016, 20.13
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Jaffna: Navy builds the new St Anthony Church in Kachchativu

by Melani Manel Perera

The island lies off the coast of northwestern Sri Lanka. The local church is a pilgrimage destination, including from Tamil Nadu. The building will be completed for the saint's day in February of 2017. Almost US$ 67,000 were spent onth project.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The Sri Lanka Navy has begun building the new St Anthony's Church in Kachchativu, in the diocese of Jaffna.

The military, who have been stationed on the island since the end of the civil war, accepted the request of the local bishop, Mgr Justin Ganapragasam, who asked the Navy Commander to expand the existing church, "too small" for the thousands of faithful who every year come to the island for the saint.

The island of Kachchativu is uninhabited, off the coast of northwestern Sri Lanka. The local church is a pilgrimage destination from Sri Lanka as well as Tamil Nadu (India). Every year, thousands of pilgrims arrive in February to celebrate the feast of St Anthony.

During the last celebrations, Mgr Ganapragasam asked the head of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, for financial support to expand the local church. The latter agreed.

In total, the Navy plans to spend US$ 67,000 on the project. Since it is an island, “the only way to bring in building materials was by landing craft to ferry materials from the mainland." he said.

The foundation stone was laid on 9 May after the blessing by Fr Joseph Das Jebaratnam, vicar general of the diocese of Jaffna. Pastor Fr Antony Jeyaranjan, his assistant Fr Colin Nixon, and Rear Admiral Piyal De Silva, Commander Northern Naval Area, were also prsent.

The Navy is confident that construction will be completed in six months so that the new church will be open for celebrations in February 2017.

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