A Congress for youth was organized by the Holy Family sisters of Jaffna Province. The theme of this Congress was, “The joyful encounter of the energies of youth.” From all parts of the Island where the our Sisters are teaching and also from the parishes where our Sisters are working 305 youth attended this Congress along with the 40 Sisters who accompanied them from the different parts of Sri Lanka. It was a day’s Programme held at the Jaffna Holy Family Convent National School, on the 29th September 2012. The day commenced with a short Bajana to the Trinity followed by the procession from the first Holy Family Convent, Jaffna, to the school premises recalling our first pioneers foot imprints in our soil. The Ilavalai Convent Band led the procession the chief Guest was the Bishop of Jaffna Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Savundranayagam and the Guest of Honour was Sr. Yolande Mathias, Provincial of Holy Family Sisters, Jaffna. The Priest Associates, Secular members, Rev. Fathers, Holy Family Sisters and 305 youth participated in the procession with their school uniform and flag. From the school entrance the Holy Family Convent School band accompanied the invitees to the stage.
Beside the stage there was replica of the boat with Bishop Semeria and the six sisters who accompanied him to Sri Lanka. At the school entrance the Bishop Rt. Rev. Thomas Savundranayagam and Sr. Yolande were garlanded and welcomed and led to the main stage to light the traditional lamp with the other special invitees. The priests and sisters who had worked hard for the growth and development of the Province and the youth were warmly welcomed. After hoisting the Papal and School flag the Holy Family anthem was sung, then the programme of the day unfurled. The Holy Family Sisters have been serving in this country not for 10 years but for 150 years and today and so with renewed spirit and energy we too will imprint our footsteps so that the enkindled flame will continue to be ablaze for many more years, with these thoughts the Provincial, Bishops, Priests, sisters all the participants imprinted their footprints on the cloth laid on the pathway the youth too imprinted their youthful footprints as a symbol of their eagerness to keep the flame alive. In the words of our Founder: “Go forward! There is nothing to check your course.” With the band playing the Holy Family hymn before entering the main hall they had to locate their photo and place their finger print under their photo and then enter the main Hall. “Your energy is breaking forth looking towards tomorrow so energize it today.”
Our special guest Rev. Fr. Jerome Lambert OMI then delivered his message in Tamil to the youth, the translation of his message is as follows:
Youth and Holy Family Religious
The Holy Family Sisters of Bordeaux, France are the celebrating the deep imprint left and the 150 years of their Founder, Venerable Pierre Bienvenu Noailles entry to his heavenly home. In the background of this magnificent history, I wish to speak on the topic “Youth and Holy Family Religious”.
In 1862 in Sri Lanka, especially in the Northern region the life of the people was seen in a poor standard. Decline in moral life, illiteracy, inequality, ignorance, polygamy, lack transport facilities and many other hardships badly affected the life of the young girls. It is in this situation that the Holy Family Sisters started their mission with a prophetic vision and with an apostolic plan for the future they launched out accomplish the mission entrusted to them.
Their first ministry was the education of youth and they established the tradition of imparting good and beneficial education. They were well aware of the importance of education in the formation of a good society. What is education? It is bringing out the integral fullness embedded in each person. For a person to attain fullness in body, mind, soul, morality education is essential. No one can deny that the Holy Family Sisters were conscious that’ poor education results in failure in life’ and so they educated the youth with dedication, with sacrifice and commitment.
The Hindus, Christian and other religions adherents who realized the great service rendered in the field of education by the Holy Family Sisters entrusted their children and young girls to be formed and molded by them. This precious seed ‘education’ was sown in the depth in the Jaffna soil with dedication, sacrifice, mortifications, compassion, love and perseverance were the tears that watered it, in the dry season giving coolness and shade to rest, and in the shade its fruits is figurative way to look at the long tradition of education in the Jaffna soil planted by the Holy Family Sisters is a unrefuted fact. The seed sown in the life of the young it has increased in numbers today from 42 schools 300 and more youth are assembled here.
The Holy Family sisters through the precious seed of education have lighted a pure family life which is the root of the society. Through the Holy Family Spirituality, “All for God Alone”, they have instill this in the youth through their ministry of education and they are living it on depth these qualities in their family life this undeniable truth.
Family is a holy structure beyond everything, it the tap root of the society and all social civilization come through the family. To gain more wisdom, to unity human rights in the society, to help one another, the family takes precedence. To work with commitment is the call of the Second Vatican Council. The Holy family Sisters understood this clearly and to all the youth who them educated committed themselves ardently for the promotion of family life.
Through their dedicated ministry they formed many loving families, happy families, families that accepted others totally, mortifying and sacrificial families, families attuned to the welfare of others, families actively involved in the growth of others, families that are mature and grown. The Holy Family spirituality has formed the youth to radiate purity in their lives. From the very start the Holy Family Sisters have built a strong and powerful network. To educate the youth they knew that families played a vital role in creating and motivating them. The Holy Family Sisters understood and realized very clearly, that the knowledge embedded in the being of children, to attain its fullness needs to be awakened without any hindrance, it can be achieved only through the holy and dynamic participation of the family. It is an accepted truth that they built a highly respected family tradition.
Dear youth, you who are greatly loved, cared and respected by the Holy Family Sisters, remember the steadfast footsteps, you who have imbibed their long educational traditions with your education you have received the spirituality of the family, have grown with all the privileges must not forget those formed you. Life-giving dedication, deeply rooted faith good family qualities, steadfast values of the Kingdom – loving fraternity, peace, justice, compassion human dignity and rights these you have to concertize them. I wish that you will utilize your youthful energy and talent to be oriented to Christ.
You all have grown in the background a terrific war. This culture of violence has left us with unforgettable scars bitter experiences physically, psychologically and our life. Above all these today, you have to face the effect modern technological. Consumerism’s stronghold on the society has created unrelenting selfishness, greedy for wealth, corruption, immorality, decline in values, drug addiction, social disintegration. All these are affecting the life of the youth, who are broken, disoriented, disintegrated and the very life of the youth becomes questionable.
In this backdrop, to fortify your life, the power is in a disciplined education, sacrificial dedication, fraternal love and behavior, it all depends in the respect you show to your teachers, elders and parents as to God who is “One God who is Father and Mother”. One Mother to embrace and Father to love and correct, to play with brothers and sisters this family life – community life will ensure you a noble living. Do not the sacred place and remember that the path you have walked is the deep spring in your life.
What is your response to the gifts and graces you received from the Holy Family traditions? You have to hold the light they had kindled alight in your hands. In the background of this history you have to steadily imprint your footsteps. In the Triple Golden Jubilee you have to realize your duty is to participate with commitment, as the Tamil saying “mlk;gd; nfhbAk; jpuz;lhy; kpLf;F” ‘Unity is strength’
Youth! I pray that your happy youthfulness, strength, life, power, determination, steadfastness, your ideals, vision, talents be integrated in God to give abundant fruitfulness.
Rev. Fr. Jerome Lambert OMI
Then Sr. Christabel Eliyathamby HF took the floor with the youth and a group young sisters and they divided them into groups and they invited to be engaged in some exercises to break the ice and to build up relationship as they had come different parts of Sri Lanka and did know one another. With the song ‘youthfulness is a gift’ she started her talk and workshop on values for youth and there was also a “Values walk” arranged in the second floor of the School and group workshops helped them to acquaint and deepen the Holy Family values in their life.
In the evening their was the Cultural programme and in between the cultural events, the youth from different groups shared their experiences, their appreciation and gratitude for all that they had gained during the course of the day. The variety cultural programme consisted of disco, folks dances, ball dance, Western dances like jazz etc.
On the whole it was a beneficial experience for the youth and also for us Holy Family Sisters to see young and youth energy merging together to be great and powerful for the future.
Thanks you Lord, for your gracious blessing of a day with sunshine after a heavy and stormy night. For all the young people who participated fully and joyfully in this Holy Family Congress. Lord, bless them all so that whatever they do, they may always seek you and work for your glory and for the good of their brothers and sisters. Amen