The history surrounding the Tudella Village
Thudella is a village that belongs to Dandugamperuwa in Ragam Pattuwa, Aluth Korale, which is situated in the Gampaha District (Colombo in the olden times). The Colombo and Negombo main road runs through this village.
Thudella is located 13 miles north of Colombo and 10 miles south of Negombo. Furthermore, the distance to the west sea from the village is about 3 1/2 miles. Dandugama from the north, Kanuwana and Ja-Ela from the south, Kudahakapola and Rajapaksa Estate, aforenamed Kurunduwaththa, from the east, and Dalathura from the west, borders the Thudella village.
The size of the village is approximately about one square mile. In the olden times, though there were reservoirs, paddy fields, and marshes, they have now been refilled, and houses have been built worldwide.
The meaning of Tudella
Mentioned below are some facts about how this village’s name came into being according to some of the village’s elders. The stream Thudu Ela is situated near A paddy seed named ‘Thudel’ being cultivated in its paddy fields.
The southern extent of Muthurajawela being oriented towards Ja-Ela in the form of a point or ‘thuda.’
The history of St. Mary’s Church Tudella (1851–2001)
An inscription that reads ‘Church of Adakkala Dewamatha 1851’ can be found at the foot of the wall near the Mission House at St. Mary’s Church. What does it mean? Was there a church built at this location before St. Mary’s? If there was, then where was it exactly located? As such, this inscription highlighted various questions.
The enculturation of Catholicism runs back to the Portuguese era in Sri Lanka. However, according to history, in 1658, towards the end of the Portuguese era and the Dutch era, Catholicism practitioners faced a difficult time.
There had first been a church where it is now called Dandugama Dutch Church. During the Dutch period, Catholics fled to Gorakanawatta in Mahagama to continue their religious activities secret with the community’s support. However, with the coming of Father Joseph Vaz in 1687, Catholicism has revived again.
Rev. Father Piccinelli (O.S.B), an Italian priest, was in charge of the Tudella Parish during the first forty years of the British era. After Rev. Father Piccinelli, Rev. Father Papili (O.S.B) took charge of the parish and gained prominence for founding many churches in the area.
One of his priorities was finding a suitable place to build the church, and accordingly, he made a small church with a thatched roof in the land he purchased in 1851.
After constructing the thatched church, they moved the holy masses held at Gorakanawatte to this newly constructed one at Tudella. This is the inception of the Adakkala Church.
In 1890, Father Kumul, a French priest, decided to build a new church, and the foundation stone for the new church was laid in 1896. Hence, Father Kumul became the founder of this new church. However, he could not do much after the laying of the foundation stone as he was transferred to a different parish soon after.
Father E. Julian was assigned to the Tudella parish in May 1897. He was an expert architect, and except plastering, all other work related to the church building was done by Father Julian. He completed the massive ‘Mogoppuwa’ at the church’s front and two bell towers, and a temporary pavilion.
On January 1, 1901, Father Julian dedicated the Holy Mother’s whole structure and conducted the new year’s holy mass.
- (1920–1923) –Rev. Father Gunasekera (O.M.I) The installation of the eight angel statues on top of the ‘Mogoppuwa’ and the St. Peter’s, St. Paul’s, and Holy Mother’s statues at the lower section by Rev. Father Gunasekara (O.M.I.)
- (1923–1928) – Rev. Father A.M.B Jayamanne reconstructed the altar rail with teak timber and installed the current statue of St. Maria.
- (1949–1952) Rev. Father Jabian Fernando repainted the church for the second time to celebrate the church’s 100th anniversary on a grand scale. It was during this period that the Fatima statue was brought to Sri Lanka. The grotto was built to commemorate this event.
- (1952–1955) – Rev. Father Manuel Alphonse added the marbled altar to the church.
- (1956–1967) – Rev. Father Lambert (O.M.I) established the statue of Holy Mother behind the main altar. He also repaired the Church ceiling on May 4, 1966, Rt. Rev Dr. Thomas Cardinal Cooray consecrated the Church to the public.
- (1967)– Rev. Father H. Don Anslam was appointed as the parish priest in 1967, and he commenced a program to help parishioners with funerals and continued liturgy services.
- (1968) – Rev. Father Raymond Peiris took over the parish, and it is clearly indicated that he gave special attention to the awakening of religious activities. He also put much effort into maintaining a close association with the Youth Association of Holy Communion.
- (1969-1973) – Rev. Father Lank Prank was assigned as the parish priest from 1969 until 1973. He was closely acquainted with the parish committee and continued liturgy services with great enthusiasm during his time.
- (1973-1976) – Rev. Father Pius Karunarathne (O.M.I), acquainted with the Youth Society of Blessed Sacrament, was passionately involved with their work. Hence more youth was drawn to the church, and this lead to an awakening of catholicism.
- (1976-1977) – Rev. Father Ansalam Cruz arrived with the transfer of Rev. Father Pius Karunarathne. During Father, Ansalam Cruz’s worked intimately with parishioners to upgrade children’s education and enhance the liturgy.
- (1977) – Rev. Father Hubert Peiris was appointed to the parish. He renovated the roof of the church.
- (1979–1987) – Rev. Father D.S Joseph Perera brought remarkable growth in liturgy services. He also initiated the Montessori of Vincent De Paul, and it is one of the most significant jobs that he accomplished. Furthermore, he re-plastered and painted the church for the fourth time, and we must be grateful for the meeting hall and the garden that Father Joseph Perera constructed.
- (1987–1992) – Rev. Father Reginald Saparamadu reconstructed the roof of the church and painted the exterior of the church. He was also involved in enhancing liturgy services and worked with the Youth Association of Blessed Sacrament, revitalizing the young generation. Father Reginald Saparamadu also re-established the ‘Dewa Matha Daru Samagama’ and reunited the youth who was closely acquainted with the parish council. He further went onto boost the economy of the church.
- (1992–1997) – Rev. Father Aba Costa worked closely with the liturgy committee and the Parish Council. He also added more spiritual substance to the Sunday school and strengthened the lives of the parish. Father Aba Costa also prepared an aesthetic decor to welcome Holy Father with the villagers. He also constructed a pavilion that matched the old church in its artistic splendor.
- (1997- 2002) – Rev. Father Bensiri Perera, who took over the parish in 1997, is the 36th Parish Priest. The 150th anniversary of the Church was celebrated during his time. The Jubilee Hall that was built to commemorate this occasion results from Father Perera’s endless effort. Rev. Father Bensiri Perera was appointed to the parish in 1997. He introduced a new method of provinces, established twenty units while organizing holy offering sections, and started the church’s holy masses.
- (2002 – 2008) – Rev. Fr. Athonisius Samaratunga
- (2008 – 2015 ) – Rev. Fr. Cecil Kumar
- (2015 – 2020) – Rev. Fr. Linton Joseph Fernando
- 2020 Present – Rev. Fr Ivan Pietersz