Feature Article

Fr Fontgalland sacrificed his entire life for downtrodden Upcountry people: Fr Jeyasegaram

[TamilNet, Friday, 04 March 2016, 16:00 GMT]
Following the example set by the late Rt Rev Leo Nanayakkara OSB, the first Bishop of Badulla, who was a Sinhalese and was renowned for his committed actions among the downtrodden masses, Rev Fr Guy de Fontgalland, who was a Tamil from Jaffna, decided to work among the Upcountry Tamils, continuing the legacy of committed action grounded in grassroots development since the demise of Leo Nanayakkara in 1982. The late Rev Fr Guy de Fontgalland was preparing to launch a big project of planting 10,000 palmyra seedlings in the islets off Jaffna in 2017, said his close associate Rev Fr A.F. Jeyasegaram, the director of Neitha'lam, which is a diocesan center for fishing workers in Jaffna. Fr Jeyasagaram has known Sathiyapillai Guy de Fontgalland since his childhood till his demise on Monday.

In a video interview to TamilNet on Friday Fr Dr Jeyasegaram was remembering the social contribution of Sathayapillai Guy de Fontgalland.

A native of Churuvil in Ooraattu'rai (Kayts), Fr Sathiyapillai Guy de Fontgalland dedicated his entire life to the upliftment of Upcountry people of Badulla district. He was closely working with Bishop Leo Nanayakkara in late 70s and early 80s.

Fontgalland's work was highly disturbed by the anti-Tamil pogrom in 1983, Jeyasegaram said. As a Tamil priest, who was working among the oppressed Upcountry Tamils, he faced threat to his life during the pogrom. The Sinhala people wanted Fr Fontgalland to relocate to Jaffna.

After being underground for two years, Fr Fontgalland continued with the same mission at Bandarawela.

Earlier, he completed his academic studies in the field of social work and social sciences at a university in Belgium. He was also working with Eezham Tamil diaspora in France and was helping the refugees. He was also engaged in bringing awareness to the national question of Tamils among the global community, especially in Europe while he was there.

He was also voicing for the liberation of political prisoners and was taking part in the protests that were being staged in Colombo.

“He and myself have been planning together to plant at least 10,000 palmyra seedlings in theevup-pattu (islets region) starting from 2017. He said it was crucial for the upliftment of the livelihood of the people in the area,” Fr Jeyasegaram said.

Fr. Fontgalland, who founded Leo Marga Ashram in Bandarawela, was continuously and tirelessly involved in the alternative development-oriented action group.

Fr Fontagalland passed away Monday evening at Trincomalee at the age of 69. He was hit by a sea wave when he went for a bath in the sea near the Urban Council of Trincomalee. His funeral will take place at Badulla Cemetery at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.



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