A parish in Jaffna is undertaking a renewal program to increase church attendance. A group of priests, nuns, and counselors from St James Church in Kurunagar are hoping to make people aware of the need for coming to church. The program which consists of visiting homes and listening to families and their problems, is being held from May 8 to June 24. The team consists of 10 - five of them Oblate priests - who are also holding group meetings with a variety of age groups in order to help them build model families, encourage Bible reading and go for Sunday Mass. “Here, we have constructive arguments about duties towards the Catholic Church,” said Nicholas Christopher, a 56-year-old fish merchant. They say attendance at the parish church has plummeted since the end of the civil war two years ago and that this is more true for men than women and children. The parish has about 5,000 Catholic families, many connected to fishing. While about 80 percent of women and children attend Sunday Mass only 30 percent men do so saying that they are too busy repairing nets and other fishing work. Father Roman Nesarajah, the parish priest, said mothers in his parish are particularly troubled with poverty and making ends meet while the youth have to struggle against falling prey to drugs and alcohol. Moreover, the parish also hopes to shore up the faith of Catholics because of the large number of Evangelical churches that have sprung up in the locality. SR14374
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