When Bastiampillai Anthonipillai was born in 1886, not far from the city of Jaffna in Ceylon – today‘s Sri Lanka – few people gave the sickly child much chance of survival. But while he was plagued by poor health throughout his life, he still lived to the age of 78. Indeed, as a young man, his health problems almost led him to give up the idea of the priesthood. Then one day, he read the words of the Gospel: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). At that, he overcame his doubts and committed himself totally to following the call of God.
His weak health did not prevent him from living a life of strict penance and asceticism, restricting himself to no more than two or three hours sleep at night. He became the founder of the first native congregation of contemplative religious men, the Rosarians, which later also grew to include a female branch as well.
Father Thomas, as he was known to everyone, chose the following biblical phrase as the motto of his congregation: “We are fools, for Christ‘s sake” (1 Corinthians 4:10). In fact, he became renowned among Christians and even among Hindus as the “mad monk.” To his contemporaries, it was incomprehensible and almost unheard of that he should simply disregard the caste system and accept the members of all castes and none. Although this practice met with great opposition at the time, within his own community, the topic of caste was not even allowed to be mentioned.
Today, the male branch of the Rosarians numbers 25 communities, above all in Sri Lanka and India. As a home-grown local congregation, it is poor and consequently ACN is supporting its priests both in Sri Lanka and in India with various different projects and also with Mass stipends. This year we have provided Mass stipends for 29 priests of the congregation, for a total of $15,900.
Will you give to provide Mass stipends to poor priests in Sri Lanka?
Aid to the Church in Need commits to invest your funds where they will have the greatest impact for the Church that we serve. Funds donated to Aid to the Church in Need’s projects will be used towards the greatest need in our programs to help keep the Faith alive.