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Sri Lanka

Till death do us part: Catholics helped to find perfect partner

Church provides matrimonial services for Sri Lankans who want to meet fellow Catholics

UCA News reporter, Colombo

UCA News reporter, Colombo

Published: November 01, 2020 04:48 AM GMT
Till death do us part: Catholics helped to find perfect partner

Mary Sithmi Fernando placed an advertisement in the matrimonial section of a Sri Lankan Catholic newspaper and found a companion for her son.

With only about 70 Catholic families in her parish in Anuradhapura Diocese, it was not an easy task to find a Catholic partner.

She said many couples often fail to bring up their children in sacramental life if they had interreligious marriages.

"Practicing two different religions under one roof is a big challenge, and to make some decisions on a regular basis is very difficult," she said.

Anuradhapura is considered the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura Diocese, about 200 kilometers north of capital Colombo, has only about 15,000 Catholics in a local population of 1.3 million. Buddhists comprise about 90 percent of the people.

Catholic newspapers and church marriage proposal services make a very valuable contribution to help people find a partner of the same faith.

Of Sri Lanka's 21 million people, 70 percent are Buddhist, 13 percent Hindu, 10 percent Muslim and 7 percent Christian.

There are over 700,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese of Colombo and over 300,000 Catholics in Chilaw Diocese.

Catholic newspapers Gnanartha Pradeepaya (Lamp of Wisdom) and The Messenger publish around 3,000 marriage proposal advertisements each year from different dioceses. Gnanartha Pradeepaya (1866) is published in Sinhala and The Messenger (1869) in English.

Gnanartha Pradeepaya is distributed nationally and has 24 pages, with its front and back pages in full color. The paper has evolved from reporting just church news to covering political, economic and social issues with a Catholic perspective. It is the oldest continuously published Sinhala newspaper in Sri Lanka.

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Some congregation nuns and some priests operate desks to support Catholic marriages free of charge in various dioceses.

Private companies also offer marriage services. Some charge a percentage of the dowry. They also make special offers for the wedding day. They say they will work to find a partner who is suitable in terms of age, caste, religion, race, education, occupation, income level and other aspects.

One marriage proposal and matrimonial service published a newspaper advertisement that reads: "We will help you to find your ideal and suitable groom or bride. Register free and start finding your ideal partner. Money will be charged based on the value of your dowry."

In Ratnapura Diocese, Ruwan Anthony Sagara, who has two daughters, placed an advert seeking a partner for his 31-year-old daughter.

"Retired father looking for a partner in the government or private sector businessman for his eldest daughter who works as an English teacher in a government school," read the advert in Gnanartha Pradeepaya.

His daughter found a good companion — a Sunday school teacher in Negombo in the Archdiocese of Colombo.

Father Damian Fernando, vicar general of Ratnapura Diocese, which has 21,855 baptized Catholics among its 1.78 million people, said interfaith marriages are more common in his diocese.

Father Camillus Fernando, editor of the Catholic newspapers, said they have nothing to do with fake wedding services as Catholic institutions provide a professional service.

"Gnanartha Pradeepaya, which plays an invaluable role in finding partners for Catholic youth in this country, is well known throughout the country for supporting the most reliable Catholic marriages," said Father Fernando in a message on Aug. 23.

"We have received information that some fraudulent groups are engaging in a money-laundering operation by calling the phone numbers published in the newspaper. We urge Catholics to be careful and not to be fooled by such services."

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