The urgent need for Catholic education in the Jaffna vicariate
Catholic education was absolutely the biggest problem of the Church in Ceylon at the time of the Oblates in the island but particularly in the Vicariate of Jaffna. During the Dutch period, the Catholic children were forced to attend Government schools.
The Protestants, who were well provided with teachers, schools, books and even with bread and clothes, attracted the Catholic children to their schools and gradually they were to renounce their faith and become Protestants. To safeguard the children, the Catholic Church took endless trouble to establish good English and Vernacular schools all on gratis basis. In the words of the Bishop: “The spider’s web is not more artfully arranged to entrap its victim than are the snares of the Protestant school to rob a Catholic child of his faith; every chance of escape is cut off; every part of the teaching is so disposed as to leave on the mind none but anti-Catholic impressions. In 1856, while in Europe he contacted several religious Congregations seeking with hope to get some religious for his Vicariate to work primarily for education.
Need for English educators – Education of girls- Catholic girls.
Most of the evil in the society proceed from the neglect on the part of the female section of the community. The influence of woman as a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother, is greater here than in other countries. Once the native women are raised with the awareness of their duties, their example and influence will infuse new life and give a higher output to the whole Church. Orphans bereft of their parents and natural guardians, are totally helpless and destitution makes them the fittest objects of sympathy.
All the nuns taught Christian doctrine to the girls, but the Europeans Sisters taught English and the indigenous Sisters taught the vernacular language. They also ran orphanages for girls taken away from pagan surroundings and brought them up in the Catholic religion. Our young workers work whole-heartedly and many of them do not have parents and it would be easy to form them as founders of Christian workers.
At the time the Holy Family Sisters arrived in Ceylon, the two Ecclesiastical divisions were, the Northern Vicariate, consisting of N. Province, N. C. Province, N. W. Province, and E. Province. and the Southern Vicariate comprising the rest of the Island.