Holy Family Contemplatives in Sri Lanka
The General Chapter of 1969 opened the possibility of having Contemplative communities in those countries were the Sisters were aspiring to live the Contemplative way of life. At that time there was only one Contemplative community in France.
In 1970, Sister Stella IZARD, came to Sri Lanka and explained to the Sisters the decisions taken at the General Chapter and of the possibility of starting the Contemplative life. The Sisters who had the desire presented themselves to Sr. Stella. They met together on many occasions.
In 1973, a Congress for the Contemplative Sisters was held at Martillac from 01st – 31st March at which four from Sri Lanka participated. On their return, three of them with another Sister formed a small group (two Sinhala and two Tamil) began their life together in a house of the Colombo Province at Bolawalana, Negombo. That same year during the holidays three teaching Sisters joined them to experience this way of life.
On August 15 under the guidance and animation of Sr. Bernadette Fernando, at a prayer service they were initiated into this new way of life. The three teaching Sisters returned to their Convents to continue their teaching apostolate until the end of the year. On 15 January 1974, the community in Bolawalana numbered 8 Sisters and one Sisters among them had
made the Definite commitment and a Superior and Bursar were installed. Sr. Melanie Fernando, the General Councillor helped them in their discernment. Another Sister joined in mid 1974. After two years, of personal and community discernment that the first Contemplative community was established in Bolawalana, Negombo in 1975.
In 1976, the 2nd Contemplative community was established in Manipay, Jaffna and there were five Sisters of whom three had already been at Bolawalana and had some experience of the new way of life. Two more joined the community in Bolawalana and in 1978 a new Chapel was blessed. These communities were open to the people of the locality who joined them at prayers and adoration. The Sisters too were available to listen to the people’s trails and difficulties lead them to deeper faith and trust in God.
From 1978, young women began to manifest their interest in Contemplative life, earlier it was the Apostolic Sisters who entered the Contemplative life. Through the ‘Come and See’ experience, some remained and others returned to their families. The first young person who entered in Manipay had Novitiate formation in 1979. In 1980 the community in Bolawalana moved to Wattala giving their residence to be the Noviitiate for the Aposotolic Sisters. Again in 1985 they moved from Wattala to Nagoda, Kandana. In 1987 two more apostolic sisters made their commitment in the Contemplative life.
In 1980 due the escalation of the war, the sisters in Manipay were affected by the prevailing situation of insecurity, fear, uncertainty, and they were finding it had to live under such situation. After consultation with the sisters, in 1991, when Sr. Marie Dolores Sanzberro was the Vicar for the Contemplative sisters, it was decided that the Sisters in the community in Manipay joine the sisters at Nagoda to form one community. It was in 1991 that the house in Nagoda was erected as a Novitiate house and to this day it continues to ensure the formation of young women for the Holy Family Contemplative life.
In 2009, two Sri Lankan Contemplative Sisters one Tamil and one Sinhala joined the Contemplative community is Posadas, Argentine. At present there are 17 Contemplative Sisters at Nagoda – 12 perpetually professed, 5 temporary professed among them there are two Indian Sisters- one perpetually professed and one temporary professed. There is one Postulant.