One of the Diocese of Leeds' worldwide Anglican link dioceses, Kuranagala, part of the Church of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), has a new bishop after a gap of three years. Last weekend, 6 January 2018, in Christ the King Cathedral, Ven. Keerthisiri Fernando was enthroned as the 6th Bishop of Kurunagala.
Our own diocese was represented by Bishop Paul Slater, the Bishop of Richmond (pictured third from right), one of several bishops and archbishops from Sri Lanka and across the world who took part in the four and a half hour celebration.
Bishop Paul writes, “The two dioceses in Sri Lanka - Colombo and Kurunagala - have been linked to the diocese of Ripon (and then Ripon and Leeds) ever since the time of Bishop David Young. It has been a great privilege to be involved in the kindling of this link with the new diocese of Leeds and to find people from right across our new diocese for whom the people of Sri Lanka have a special place in their hearts and prayers.”
The Diocese of Kurunagala was created in 1950. Situated in the centre of Sri Lanka like the yoke of an egg surrounded by the Diocese of Colombo, it stretches 300km from North to South and 100 km from East to West. The see has been vacant for three years since its former bishop, Gregory Shantha Francis, stood down in January 2015 at the request of the Diocesan Standing Committee. The Bishop of Colombo, Dhiloraj Canagasabey, had been acting as Vicar General of Kurunegala.
Prior to his episcopal ordination, Bishop Keerthisiri was Archdeacon of Nuwaraeliya in the Diocese of Colombo. He is an expert in inter-faith dialogue and has written extensively on Christian-Buddhist relationships. He is a member of Nifcon – the Anglican Communion’s Network for Inter-Faith Concerns. He has studied in the UK, India and Sri Lanka and is currently exploring “creation and recreation of identities among Sinhala speaking Christians in Sri Lanka” as part of his studies for a Doctorate in the sociology of religion with theological implications and repercussions.