The Humanitarian and Social Arm of the Catholic Church

 Caritas Sri Lanka (CSL) also known as SEDEC (Social & Economic Development Centre) was established in November 1968 under the National Secretariat for Justice, Peace and Human Development Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka, and has been granted legal status by the Government of Sri Lanka, Incorporated under the Act of Parliament, No. 17 of 1983.

The services rendered by the Caritas Sri Lanka network extends through 12 Church Dioceses covering all 9 Provinces of Sri Lanka with its Vision and Mission as follows:

Vision: “Realisation of a Just Sri Lankan Society based on Gospel Values of Love, Forgiveness, Peace, Unity, Equality – Lived, Promoted and Protected irrespective of race, caste and religion”.

 Mission:  “Empowering people through animation and being in solidarity in their efforts for Integral Human Development”

Founded by late Rev. Fr. Joe Fernando under a concept initiated by His Eminence late Thomas Cardinal Coorey, Archbishop of Colombo.  Entering its 50th year of service, SEDEC organized a Jubilee Year inauguration ceremony on 8 November 2017 and a commemorative monument was erected at SEDEC premises as a mark of remembrance to its founders.  A Declaration was issued by the Bishops who were present on that day.

As part of the Jubilee year activities, Caritas has organized an island wide debate competition organised through all 13 Diocesan Centres which will culminate at the national level debate competition on 9 July 2018 at the Aquinas College, Colombo.

A documentary film is being made covering Caritas work and major achievements during the past 50 years.  In addition, a book on the History of Caritas Sri Lanka – SEDEC is also planned to be published.  Several video clips on the implementation of activities at the grassroots level contributed by the Caritas Diocesan Centres will be uploaded to YouTube.

Contributions in the form of messages are being compiled to publish the 50th Anniversary Souvenir.

It is also expected to run a series of feature articles in the Catholic Messenger from July onwards on different subject areas where Caritas as the social arm of the Church has made an impact.

The formal celebration of the 50th Jubilee will be at the BMICH on 29 November 2018 with religious dignitaries, diplomats, civic leaders, Caritas international partners, diocesan directors and staff and heads of religious congregations expected to participate.

Caritas sectors of specialisation are:  Promoting sustainable agriculture/food security; capacity building and empowering civil society for integral human development; emergency response, disaster risk reduction and building communities for disaster preparedness; housing & livelihood support; educational support to vulnerable children; promoting peace & Reconciliation, inter-religious harmony; ensuring Safe labour Migration; advocacy on human dignity and human rights.

Caritas Sri Lanka is a member of the Caritas International Federation comprising of 165 member countries and works closely with the international partners and member organizations in the provision of emergency relief at times of disasters and other humanitarian services to the poor and the vulnerable.

Over the years, Caritas has earned the credibility as the only organisation that has the necessary basic network structure developed throughout the island.  In addition, Caritas has emerged as an organization recognized as a neutral body particularly among the different ethnic and religious communities, having a wide reach and presence to be able to work with all such communities, irrespective of race, religion, economic and social status.

May the Holy Spirit continue to guide Caritas Sri Lanka – SEDEC, the social arm of the Catholic Church in putting into practice for the next 50 years what was commanded by Jesus Christ to “Love thy Neighbour”.