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Sunday, 17 June 2012

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The Church of St. John the Baptist:

Serving Catholic community for 75 years

The area that belongs to the Church of St. John the Baptist is about 40 square kilometres and consists of 280 devout Catholic families. The families are within the area surrounded by the Kaluganga from the south and the Indian Ocean borders from the West. It runs also into the interior of the country and covers the area from the North and the East.


A view of the church to day

During the first Roman Catholic period (1543-1658) there was a church built in honour of St. John the Baptist at a place called Galpota in 1658. It consisted of a community of 100 families.

But it was destroyed by the Dutch and was converted into a non-Catholic church.

It was a challenge to the Catholic Church and the community was unable to practise their religion. This area was able to get the assistance of Blessed Joseph Vaz in 1691 AD and was engaged in missionary work secretly. In 1730 Rev. Father Jacome Gomsalvez had visited the place for missionary work thereafter. There is evidence for such missionary activities in Kalutara North.

Changes

The Kalutara North Catholic community underwent so many changes in the coming years. In 1884 it was divided into two sections. Therefore, the Kalutara North Parish belonged to the area from Wadduwa to Kalamulla. Later it was further divided and functioned as two parishes, Kalutara North and Kalutara South including Nagoda and Panwila Parishes.

The real construction work of the church started in 1912 and was completed in 1940. The constructed building is an example of mixed architecture. The first ceremonial festival was celebrated in 1937. It was officially celebrated by the then Archbishop Most Rev. J. M. Masson.

Churches are constructed for the glory of God. Having this highest aim in mind our ancestors had built this church with the greatest difficulty and fervent devotion. It is said that it took 25 years to complete the construction work of the church because the devotees had to undergo immense hardships at that time.

The present church building was started in 1912. There was another church building in the same place. It was consecrated to St. John the Baptist. The church building was not enough to accommodate the number of devotees gathered at that time and was also not suitable.

Demolition

Therefore, the building was demolished and the foundation of the existing church was laid by Rev. Father Carlo Edmund. The place in which the church then was known as Godawalawatta. At that time only the Novenas were held and the festival was celebrated.

The first Annavi post of the Church was nominated and held by the late Mical Swaris and S. Pius Perera was nominated and followed by S. Martin S. Perera. At present the Annavi system is not functioning in the Catholic Church and the Parish Pastoral Council system has been introduced instead.

In 1962, when Rev. Father Romold was the Parish Priest the 25th anniversary of the church was held. In 1987, the 50th jubilee anniversary was held under the guidance of Rev. Father Ranjith Roy.

At present the Parish had been divided into 12 Christian communities with a widened family program. Along with legally appointed Parish Councillors the activities are done spiritually and morally to improve the standards of the communities in every month. Daham Pasala or the Sunday Catechetical school is also attached to the Parish Council. A new project can be seen in function to suit the necessities of the community.

We specially proclaimed the 75th jubilee anniversary in 2011.

The 75th jubilee of the Church will be celebrated by his Grace Rev. Dr. Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith on June 24.

 

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