A SHORT HISTORY OF THE TAMIL CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION OF VICTORIABUT A STRONG TRADITION
(by John Pathinathan, FOUNDER PRESIDENT)
As the Founder President of the Tamil Catholic Association, Victoria (T.C.A.V.), and also the first Tamil Catholic Association in Australia, I am honoured and delighted to write this note at the request of the current President, Mr.Eladious Fernando, on the occasion of its 25th Anniversary celebrations which I believe is an important and significant landmark in the life of any organisation.
TCAV was inaugurated in 1987, with the blessings of the Archbishop of Melbourne, His Grace Most Rev.FrankLittle, it commenced activities in October 1987 with the election of office bearers. This was based on an approved constitution and all activities, both welfare and spiritual, are still carried out within the guidelines set out in the constitution of the Association.
On the threshold of its 26th year, the TCAVhas developed contacts with Government departments and with the various NGOS such as Caritas Australia, Australian Catholic Relief, Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office. The achievements and progress of T.C.A.V. since its inception have received considerable recognition from not only our members but also from the other related Tamil organisations in Victoria, as well as from the Catholic Church as a whole. T.C.A.V. has established contacts with Caritas Australia, Caritas France and with the Victorian State Government. They have donated funds to “Hudec-Caritas Jaffna” to establish the Vic-Jaf Fishnet production Factory in Jaffna, Sri Lanka with the support of our Guest of Honour for tonight’s event, The Bishop of Jaffna, Most Rev.Dr.Thomas Savundranayagam. Thousands of people in the Northern Peninsula will benefit from this project directly and indirectly.
The main aims of the T.C.A.V are:
- To foster and promote spirituality, friendship and understanding among Tamil Catholics;
- To participate in and assist with projects designed to improve the welfare of all Tamil Catholics; and
- To assist newly arrived Tamil Catholic immigrants and others seeking assistance in their settlement.
Our founders and their successors have faithfully carried out activities, both spiritual and welfare, within the guidelines as set out in the constitution of the Association. Some of these are highlighted below.
A. Religious activities – Our main spiritual celebrations include:
i. Monthly Masses in Tamil.
ii. Devotion to our Blessed Mother of Jesus – Celebration on Mother’s birthday and/or Our Lady of Madhu feast.
iii. Annual Christmas Mass and celebration.
iv. New Year’s Eve Mass
v. Good Friday Service & Day of Recollection
All these spiritual activities and services in Tamil are very popular not only among the Tamil Catholics in Melbourne (Victoria State) but also among the Tamil Catholics living in Sydney (New South Wales State).
B. Charity & Welfare Activities.
i. Our members, irrespective of their country of origin and nationality, continually extend their support and solidarity to our suffering brethren in Sri Lanka and in India where the Association has been at the forefront in assisting our members at all levels including:
ii. In accordance with the aims of the Association, we have always helped our members with matters relating to their immigration.
iii. The Association, when necessary, plays a leading role in convening a delegation along with all the Victorian Tamil organisations, dignitaries of the Australian Catholic Church, and other Christian organisations to urge the Australian Government to mediate with the Sri Lankan Government to bring about a peaceful political settlement for our suffering brethren living in Sri Lanka.
iv. The Association provides assistance to newly arrived refugees who are in need of help.
v. The Association embarks on fund raising activities to provide relief assistance through Caritas Australia.
vi. Donations are made to provide assistance for the training of Seminarians and also to the victims of natural disasters in different parts of the world.
vii. Sponsored Adult/Youth Apprentice Training programmes for our deserving people in India and in Sri Lanka.
C. Our Spiritual Co-ordinators and Chaplains.
i. In the first 15years since it’s inception, the late Monsignor John J. Murphy and Rev.Fr.JohnRaccanallo have served as Chaplains of our Association with the assistance of the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
ii. As time went by and the number of Tamil Catholic members living in different parts of Melbourne increased, the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne realised the necessity for a Tamil Chaplain and appointed the following Priests as our Chaplains in different periods with the help of Bishop of Jaffna.
- Rev.Fr.NevilleGnanarajah and
- Rev.Fr.Anthony Gnanapragasam, who has been the current Chaplain for the last three years..
Members are very thankful to the Archdiocese of Melbourne and to the Bishop of Jaffna for the overwhelming support provided to our Association. We are also ever grateful to our Chaplains for their dedicated service and guidance to our members.
Future growth, prosperity and success
i. We rejoice that the Tamil Catholic Association, Victoria has reached an important landmark with more than 350 enrolled family members in Melbourne and we wish for its continued prosperity. The success and popularity of our Association are due to the true spirit of service and enthusiasm shown not only by the management committee but also by the members of the Tamil Catholics living in Melbourne.
ii. Special mention must be made for our President Mr.Eladious Fernando for his untiring efforts to keep the Association growing and active with new plans and strategies .One of the main achievements by him is he has made our Association as an approved Charitable organisation in Australia. We congratulate him and the past and present Committee Members for their outstanding commitment to keep the Association growing and active and also for the members for their cooperation and support to the management committee for the programs undertaken.
Our common bond is that we are all Catholics and our love is for Jesus Christ. As we lift our hearts in thankfulness to God for the past, we look forward in God with hope and thankfulness, for the future.