Newly-built St Anthony’s church at Katchatheevu islet in Sri Lanka will organise a thanksgiving ceremony on December 23, functionaries of a fishing association said on Saturday. P Sesuraja and S Emiret, functionaries of the mechanised fishing boat owners’ association in Chennai, said on Saturday they received a communication from Jaffna bishop Gnanaprakasam.
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The Jaffna bishop, who has invited 20 people, will participate in the function at Katchatheevu, an islet ceded by India to Sri Lanka in the 1970s.
Local fishermen, however, demanded that at least 100 fishermen should be allowed to participate in the function.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has told the Madras High court that the formal consecration ceremony of the church would take place along with an annual festival in March next.
MEA Branch Secretariat head T Angeline Premalatha said Lankan church officials will only hold thanksgiving service for workers who helped build the church adjacent to the existing one and it was not a formal ceremony as even Sri Lankan pilgrims have not been invited.
“The formal ceremony would be held during the annual St Anthony’s church festival in March 2017. At that time, both Indian and Sri Lankan pilgrims will be present,” she had said.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on December 8 had sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s direction to the MEA to facilitate the participation of all fishermen devotees from the state in the consecration ceremony of the church.
The ceremony was originally scheduled for December 7 but Sri Lanka postponed it on account of the demise of J Jayalalithaa.