Students of St Paul's Seminary in the diocese of Chilaw in Sri Lanka provide physical labor for major renovation work
Around 100 seminarians and some of their parents are rolling up their sleeves to provide much needed help in extensive renovation and building work at a seminary in Chilaw diocese. St Paul’s Minor Seminary in Marawila, which was built in 1950, has been in need of restoration work for several years, according to Father Jayantha Perera, its rector. So to minimize high labor costs the seminarians are putting aside their books and are volunteering in their spare time to do much the work themselves, along with several of their fathers who are craftsmen. “We had to do something, the original buildings are falling apart,” Father Perera said. “The students were finding it difficult to concentrate on their studies especially during the rainy season. Plaster was missing, there were huge cracks in the walls and water was coming in.” Several washrooms, an infirmary, a classroom and a kitchen have been renovated so far, and a kitchen, a computer room and a chapel have been built from scratch. “The work is still going on,” Father Perera said. One of the seminarians toiling hard is Mudith Kavinja, 21. “So far we have stripped several buildings, and helped the masons and carpenters. We’ve also done the digging for the new foundations,” he said. Antony Perera, a parent and carpenter said it was a pleasure to work on something that would benefit his son and many future priests. He said the parents mostly work for free but sometimes charged a nominal fee. According to Father Perera, the renovation work and the new buildings will cost nearly 10 million rupees (US$91,000). Much of the money came from overseas donors in Germany and Austria as friends of Polish missioner, Father Mariusz Michalik. The work has drawn high praise from Bishop Valance Mendis of Chilaw. “Everyone has worked hard on these buildings; it’s a good thing. Working to develop the place where one lives is always a great experience,” he told them during annual feast celebrations recently.