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150 years in Sri Lanka

1. Holy Family Sisters on accomplishing 150 years in Sri Lanka open their hearts……

150 years ago, the Holy Family Sisters imprinted their footprints on Jaffna soil with grateful hearts.

In gratitude the Holy Family Sisters wish to share the ‘good news’ of the Holy Family Association and

its growth in Sri Lanka from 1862 to 2012 with the readers of the Catholic Messenger.

Many years ago Christianity had bloomed on Jaffna soil.  The pride of having spread Christianity goes to the Missionary priests and nuns from Europe.  They were sent from different Congregations and also from different countries in Europe.  “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring Good News”.   (Is.52:7)  The missionaries, who were sent, worked zealously to spread the Kingdom of God.


Among those sent to evangelize, the first Congregation of women religious who came to Sri Lanka were the Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux.    From 1862 – 1985 these foreign missionaries worked in the Jaffna Peninsula and in the other parts of the country.  Through their presence and loving service they won the hearts of many, who later joined the Catholic Church, this is evident in available historical records.   Many from other faiths too, joined the Catholic Church.  To achieve the Sisters lived a vowed life, united with the Lord, a simple, and happy life, loved their Congregation and lived the spirit of God Alone while rendering loving service to all.


The Congregation of the Holy Family established on Jaffna soil, worked closely in the Bishop’s Administrative area and later launched – out to Kurunegala, Kurunegala was the capital of the Southern region, where there were many Catholics in Wennappuwa and Chilaw and spread to the other places.  Many who were attracted by their consecrated life opted to join the Holy Family way of life.


As we celebrate the Triple Golden Jubilee of the arrival of the Holy Family Sisters in Jaffna in 2012, we wish to share with you all our history and about the five vocations in the Family of Pierre Bienvenu Noailles in a very simple way.


It was during the French revolution which shook theb western world that our Founder Fr. Pierre Bienvenu Noailles experienced the effects and consequences of the revolution.  It affected him and spoke strongly to him about the needs of the time.  French society was devastated socially, religiously, politically and economically and this sudden change in society made him act.  In 1820, he established the Association of the Holy Family with many branches to respond to the signs of the time and to build a new  Christian society.  Through the vows of poverty, obedience and chastity the first Sisters  totally committed themselves to community living in the seven branches living their specific religious life to respond to the different needs in society.


The changing era had its influence on the Association of the Holy Family too.  In 1903, some changes took place in its structures; the 7 branches became 3 main vocations.  The way man thinks and lives are never the same.  When the thoughts of man changes, it has its effect on the world, society and country.  This happens every day.


Whether we like it or not we are influenced by these movements.  In 1957, there was a change in the administrative structures of the Association.  It was decentralized.  At present in this Association there are Apostolic and Contemplative religious, consecrated Seculars who live a hidden life, like a leaven in the world.   Like in our Founder’s time, today,  together with the consecrated life, there are men and women  Lay Associates, Priest Associates, youth and Children of the Holy Family

Dear Readers, the members of the Family of Pierre Bienvenu Noailles mentioned above wish to share with you all, their life history and experiences.  ‘The great expansion of the Holy Family’ comes to you from the Jaffna Province, as we re-visit the past, share the present and in this way want to reach out to you all in  love, share the joy of our commitment and responsibility, explain and clarify the mission of the men and women who have committed themselves to spreading God’s Kingdom in our country.  If you wish, you too, could commit yourselves and respond to God’s voice, that is the aim of our sharing.



                                                                                                Jubilee Committee,

Holy Family Provincialate,