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Seminarians develop Tamil studies

Language is needed for pastoral care, preaching and other facets of the pastoral ministry

Father Justin Gnanapragasam, Vicar General of Jaffna diocese Father Justin Gnanapragasam, Vicar General of Jaffna diocese
  • ucanews.com reporter, Jaffna
  • Sri Lanka
  • May 13, 2011
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Seminarians in Jaffna are undertaking special studies to nurture the Tamil language in Sri Lanka.

Tamil seminarians gathered at St Francis Xavier seminary in Jaffna for an award ceremony and Tamil cultural festival yesterday evening for ways to develop ways to develop their  language.

“Tamil, a classical language, is being endangered due to its decline in use, lack of educational support and a shift to (using) other languages. We have to save and propagate our mother language,” said Oblate Father Paul Jayanthan Pachchek from the Jaffna diocesan seminary.

“We need more priests trained in advanced communicative methods of teaching Tamil,” he said. The language is needed for pastoral care, liturgy, preaching, organizing and in other facets of the pastoral ministry when there is a scarcity of Tamil scholars, he added.

Jaffna Catholics including guest speakers attended the cultural events that included traditional dances, folk songs and a drama on Blessed Joseph Vaz.  Close to 70 seminarians who competed in essay writing, speech and singing competitions were awarded. The festival paid tribute to scholars for their contribution to  the Tamil language especially in the fields of theology and biblical studies.

Father Justin B. Gnanapragasam, the vicar general of Jaffna diocese, said Tamil language studies have suffered because of a scarcity of Tamil scholars, as many left the country due to war.  Sri Lanka is just recovering from a three-decade long ethnic war between the Tamil rebels and the Sinhalese government.

The Tamil rebels, with their stronghold in Jaffna were fighting for a separate homeland, saying their Sinhalese majority were ill-treating them and marginalizing their culture and  language.

The Tamil course in the seminary includes learning new vocabulary and themes based on scripture and the liturgy.

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Most Colombo churches now hold Tamil Masses

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