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Thursday, July 31, 2014
Sri Lanka: Priest dies alongside refugees
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Sri Lanka: Priest dies alongside refugees

picture: Caritas
Accompanying his people trapped in the “no Fire Zone” to the very end, Father Mariampillai Sarathjeevan, aged 41,  died  of a heart attack just as the last refugees left the war zone.   Fr Sarathjeevan, a priest from the diocese of Jaffna, was  struck down on 18 May, the day the war between the army and the Tamil Tigers ended and only hours after the army  took  complete control  of the area.

A parish priest in Kilinochchi and coordinator of the Jesuit Rehabilitation Service for the diocese of Jaffna, Fr Sarathjeevan  was one of seven priests  who stayed with those prevented from leaving the coastal strip of the Nanthi Kadal lagoon. He   had not left their side since the beginning of military operations in Vanni. He died on the side of the road, exhausted by   months  of hardship and deprivation under constant shelling. AsiaNews has reported that although he was transported to hospital in Vavuniya nothing could be done to save him.   From this city where the majority of the 280,000 refugees of war  are gathered, the body of Father Sarathjeevan was brought to Colombo for transfer to Jaffna for the funeral.

Yesterday, fellow priests, sisters and religious from Jaffna together with members of Caritas Sedec bade farewell to   Fr Sarathjeevan, first in a private Mass, celebrated by Fr James Pathinathan in Tamil and later in special prayers led by   Mgr Oswald Gomis, Bishop of Colombo. Father David Manuelpillai told thecongregation that “in the last few days Fr   Sarathjeevan was deeply concerned he could no longer say Mass, obliged to live in a bunker without food or water.  In the end, when he was finally able to leave these desperate conditions he could bear the agony of his people no more  and his heart gave way”.

Source: Vatican Radio

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