Congregation of the Franciscan Brothers of St. Vincent de Paul was formally united to the
Order on November 13, 1982.
Our Lady of Sri Lanka
diocesan congregation began as the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception in 1870. It
was established by Fr. Luigi Picenelli (born at Rion, France in 1823) who had been named
Vicar Apostolic of Colombo in Ceylon (as it was then known) in 1866. The purpose of this
pious association was the teaching of Christian Doctrine, the education of young boys, and
the care of orphanages. With the decree of October 20, 1891 granted by the Archbishop of
Colombo, Mons. Christopher Bonjean, OMI, the Confraternity was raised to the status of a
diocesan religious congregation with the title of the "Congregation of St. Vincent de
Paul." The Institute was spiritually affiliated with the Order of Friars Minor in a
rescript dated September 1, 1910. A later Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Thomas Cooray,
OMI, changed the title of the Congregation to that of "The Franciscan Brothers of St.
Vincent de Paul. "
August 22, 1949, a group of Tamil speaking brothers officially withdrew from the
Congregation to form an independent Institute called the "Franciscan Brothers of
the year 1971, the Congregation of Franciscan Brothers of St. Vincent de Paul numbered 35
members and was established throughout the Archdiocese of Colombo and in the Dioceses of
Chilaw and Galle.
interesting fact is that the first initiatives towards a union with the Order took place
in 1928 during the generalate of Fr. Arnaldo Rigo, TOR. Fr. Arnaldo welcomed the petition
of the brothers and sent it on for approval by the Holy See. However, the project could
not be realized for reasons originating in the local Church of Sri Lanka.
the Third Order Regular
spite of their original unsuccessful project of union, the Brothers continued to maintain
contact with the Order by means of the Interobediential Congresses. In 1978, they again
presented the matter of a possible union and concrete steps were taken by Fr. Roland
Faley, the Minister General. He and Fr. Anthony Ramanattu, General Definitor, accepted the
invitation of Bro. Thomas Tissera, the Superior General of the Congregation to visit Sri
Lanka. Later, Fr. Michael Edamanapadavil, Master of Novices for the Province of St.
Thomas, was sent to prepare the Congregation for the union with our Order. When the 2
years of preparation were finished, the vote of each brother, together with the
"beneplacitum" of the Archbishop of Colombo, Mons. Mark Fernando and the formal
consent of the TOR General Curia given on July 2, 1982, were sent to the Holy See. The
Sacred Congregation of Religious published the Decree of Union dated September 8, 1982.
The official ceremony took place in Sri Lanka on November 13, 1982 and the new fraternity
of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis is known as the Vice-Province of Our Lady of Sri
the time of the union, there were 40 professed members, of whom 23 were in perpetual vows,
17 in temporary vows, 5 novices, and 28 young men in the pre-novitiate program. Fr.
Anthony Ramanattu was named as the Commissary Provincial (1982-1984) to guide the first
steps of this new fraternity of the Order. Bro. Mark Fernando, a Sri Lankan friar, was
elected Vice-Provincial in 1984.
August of 1992, the friars celebrated the centennial of their foundation with the presence
of the Minister General, several members of the General Curia and the Ministers Provincial
of Spain, Sicily and India.