SRI LANKA Colombo mourns Gomis, the archbishop of tsunami reconstruction

He passed away this morning at the age of 90. He was first auxiliary bishop and then headed the archdiocese of the Sri Lankan capital from 2002 to 2009. When the tragedy struck in December 2004, he was the one who led the Church-sponsored program to build homes for the victims and provide means of subsistence.

Colombo (Asia News) – The Archdiocese of Colombo mourns the death of Bishop Emeritus Oswald Thomas Colman Gomis, called to eternal rest this morning at the age of 90. The prelate was hospitalized in the capital.

Bishop Oswald Gomis was born on December 12, 1932 in Kelaniya. He grew up in the city of Colombo where he attended St. Joseph’s College. He entered the seminary in 1950 and studied first at Borella and then at Kandy. He was ordained a priest at the Cathedral of Saint Lucia, in Kotahena, by Cardinal Archbishop Thomas Cooray on February 3, 1958, that is, exactly 65 years ago. Appointed auxiliary bishop of Colombo by Paul VI, he received episcopal ordination on July 17, 1968, when he was only 35 years old. In 1996 John Paul II summoned him to lead the diocese of Anuradhapura, in the north of Sri Lanka. Lastly, in 2002 he succeeded Msgr. Nicholas Marcus Fernando as Archbishop of Colombo, making him the third prelate from Sri Lanka to hold this chair, a position he held until June 16, 2009.

He led the diocese of the Sri Lankan capital in the last phase of the war that bloodied the country for decades and his intervention in the dramatic situation created by the December 2004 tsunami was essential. He personally led the program sponsored by the Church to build homes for the victims and provide them with means of subsistence. He also built numerous schools and colleges throughout the country.

Archbishop Gomis was also a point of reference for all the Churches in Asia. For two terms, between 1996 and 2004, he was secretary general of the FABC, the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences. In the continental ecclesial body, he had previously been president of the Social Communications Commission and member of the Board of Directors of Radio Veritas. A great communicator, he wrote numerous articles for local Sinhala and English newspapers and also published about 16 books for children and adults in both languages.

The body of the late Archbishop Gomis will remain exposed until tomorrow at 12 in the church of Santa Ana in Kelaniya, his hometown. Then they will make a stopover at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Anuradhapura and then return to Colombo, where he will be buried on Monday 6 at 3:00 p.m. in the St. Lucia Cathedral.

(with the collaboration of Fr. Sunil de Silva)

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Written by Editor TLN

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