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Ilavalai Mission

Ilavalai  Mission 

The first mission outside Jaffna was Ilavalai – the centre of the Tamil missions and the Novitiate.  The sisters in the distant missions were grouped in Mannar and Ilavalai.  The Superior of Ilavalai, (1910) visited the community in each mission.  There were about 130 students in the Tamil school in 1910.  The workshop at Ilavalai was not properly established but the students worked hard to face the examination.  In 1925, “Ilavalai was a campus consisting of educational establishments, formation of Novices for their future apostolate and Centre for the Tamil missions in the North.  The study of English was given importance and 20 out 35 boarders commenced their study of English, later a small English School was opened.  In the Vernacular School there were 185 students and out of them, 19 non-Christian students expressed their desire to embrace the Catholic faith


In 1947 there were 140 Tamil Sisters of whom, 46 Sisters were at Ilavalai, and 94 in the smaller missions.   Understanding the need and the demands of the Government, those with the necessary aptitudes continued their studies; 58 Sisters had Diploma or Certificates to teach, 2 had Trained Teacher’s Diploma to teach in English schools, 41 trained to teach in Tamil Schools, 8 Sisters had Certificates as English Teachers and 7 to teach Tamil.  Besides these 16 taught without Special Certificate and they were approved as teachers by the Education Office.  Twenty schools had on roll 4,061 children.


In 1939 the Orphans who were in Jaffna Convent under our Tamil Sisters were brought to Ilavalai.  In 1938 a Holiday House for the Sisters with an attached small Sanatorium was put up at Myliddy.  Eight small Missions (Tamil) were opened during this period.


In 8th September 1948, the formation of the members of the budding local Contemplative Congregation called the ‘Rosarian Women Congregation’ that was was entrusted to Sr. Jeanne Marie Hamponera Fidela.  In 1971 handed over her responsibility, due to her illness to Sr. Albina Soosaipillai and retired.


On 31st December 1951, in the 25 Schools (22 Tamil and 3 English) and the total number of students were 7,329, out of these students 5,311 were Catholics.  In 1942, in Mullaithivu there was an orphanage with 50 children, 15 of them were Muslim children.   In 1942, they opened a Boarding in Vavuniya, there were 150 Lay teachers helping our Sisters in the schools, due to the shortage of teaching Sisters.  On the 22nd August 1947, Pandaterruppu was opened;  Passaiyoor on 19th January 1948; Manipay on  18th April 1949.  On 18th December 1947, 3 communities became autonomous from Ilavalai: – Mannar, Karampon, Immaculate Conception Convent, Jaffna.   On 2nd May 1949, Passaiyoor, too, did the same and their endeavour was successfully approved by Rome.


The Sisters took charge of the School in Mannar in 1894 and looked after the orphan girls.  By 1897 and 1898 they began their apostolates in Kayts and Point Pedro.