Salvatorian priests shine in Jaffna | Sunday Observer

Salvatorian priests shine in Jaffna

The vast Northern Province has a few religious congregations in active service. On a visit to the St. Marys Cathedral I happened to meet Rev.Fr. Michael a priest of the Salvatorian Order, which is officially known as the Society of the Divine Saviour (SDS). Their mission house is nestled amongst a cluster of trees down Gurunagar Road. The ancient architecture of the mission house adds to the holistic aura of this Christian brotherhood. Fr. Michael explained “Our religious order is established on the Biblical verse of John chapter 17 verse 3. The order was found in 1881 by Rev.Fr. Francis Jordan. Our mother house is in Rome. Priests of the Society of the Divine Saviour are known worldwide as Salvatorians. We are active in 42 nations. A mission was started in India in 1890. We began our Sri Lankan Mission in Jaffna in 2011. We also have another mission house in Chilaw. I am the delegate superior of the local chapter”. Decades ago the female order of Salvatorian nuns had come to Ceylon and established a mission house in Mandaithivu.

At present there are 8 novice monks at the mission house in the early stages of religious formation. They begin their day at 5.30 am with prayer. The young brothers study theology. Meals are eaten together at the refectory (the dining hall of a monastery). Another group of seven brothers are presently in the Philippines at their International Formation House studying to complete their final religious vows. An interesting element in the attire of the young Salvatorian priests is the cincture (black rope cord) with four knots. Each knot represents their vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and the apostolate.

Fr. Michael spoke about their founder saying “John Jordan was born to a poor family in Gurtweil, Germany. Although he desired to be a priest, his family’s poverty led him to spend time serving as an itinerant artisan and laborer. Jordan finally began his studies for the priesthood and was eventually ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Freiburg. A gifted linguist, his bishop sent him to study Greek and Semitic languages. During this period, he discerned that God was calling him to serve the Church in a new way.

Father Jordan envisioned a new society that would bring together priests, religious, and lay men and women from all walks of life to work for the propagation of the Gospel. On December 8, 1881, Father Jordan and two companions pronounced vows as the first members of the newly formed Apostolic Teaching Society. Around this time, he adopted a religious name: Francis. Although Father Jordan did not intend to establish a formal religious community, the following years saw his vision evolve and, in later years the Society came to include two separate religious communities: a community of priests and brothers known as the Society of the Divine Savior (SDS) and a community of religious women known as the Congregation of the Sisters of the Divine Savior. Both communities are more commonly known as Salvatorians. Father Francis Jordan died in Switzerland, in 1918”.

One of the primary missions of the Jaffna chapter involves working with young men who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Fr. Michael and his team travel to areas in Killinochchi to help counsel and deliver these young men, who are mainly from low income families. Thus the Salvatorians are restoring hope and rebuilding lives in their own humble way to help the people of the North.

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