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Sri Lanka

The Congregation of the Franciscan Brothers of St. Vincent de Paul was formally united to the Order on November 13, 1982.

 

The Vice-Province of
Our Lady of Sri Lanka

 

The Former Congregation

This 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. "

On August 22, 1949, a group of Tamil speaking brothers officially withdrew from the Congregation to form an independent Institute called the "Franciscan Brothers of Mary."

In 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.

An 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.

Union with the Third Order Regular

In 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 Lanka.

At 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.

In 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.