It is exactly 150 years ago that the founding father of the Oblate Mission in Sri Lanka was called to eternal rest. Fr. Jean-Étienne SÉMERIA was chosen by St. Eugene, our beloved founder, to lead the four member missionary band to Sri Lanka in 1847.
On fire for the conversion of souls, Fr. Sémeria ardently but prudently designed and carved the Oblate mission field in Sri Lanka. By his life, he set an example for his fellow Oblate missionaries not to lose their zeal for souls.
In 1857, he succeeded Bishop Orazio Bettachini as the Vicar Apostolic of Jaffna. During his eleven years of episcopacy, spiritual fruitfulness was assured in the Vicariate. At that time, the Vicariate of Jaffna included the present Dioceses of Jaffna, Mannar, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Chilaw and Kurunagala.
He travelled miles and miles to meet his flock and founded a good number of schools and colleges for the education of Catholics as well as non-Catholics. While he was in France to take part in the General Chapter of our Congregation, he contracted pleurisy and was called to eternal rest on the 23rd of January 1868. He was laid to rest at the Oblate tomb in Aix-en-Provence. (www.omijaffna.com)