About our President
Prof. Dr. S. J. Emmanuel, born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka in 1934, had his early education in Jaffna and later graduated himself in physical sciences at the University of Ceylon, Colombo in 1958. After a short period as teacher and journalist, he did his studies in Rome, graduating in Philosophy and Theology at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome and was ordained a priest in Dec 1966.
In Sri Lanka, he was pastor and diocesan director for lay apostolate. During his second soujourn in Rome (1973-76), he did research about lay ministries and obtained a doctorate in theology. From 1976 till 1986, he was Professor and Dean of theology at the National Seminary in Kandy, Sri Lanka. For eight years he was a member of the first Theological Advisory Committee of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC) and delivered the key-note address to the Plenary sessions of the FABC in Tokyo in 1986. He has written on various theological issues of the Asian churches.
He was ten years Rector of St.Francis Xavier’s Major Seminary in Jaffna and also Vicar General of the Jaffna Diocese till 1997. He was Founder-Director of the Centre for Better Society in Jaffna , and editor of two bi-monthly journals in Tamil.
From 1986 onwards, he has been a direct victim and witness to the ethnic conflict and war in Jaffna. In October 1995 he along with his staff and students of the Seminary joined the 500,000 men, women and children in their historic Exodus out of Jaffna. After an year in the jungles, he moved to Europe in 1997 in self-exile.
During these eleven years in exile, besides his lectures in various universities in Europe, he has been bearing credible witness at many international conferences to the horror events happening behind closed-doors in the Northeast of Sri Lanka. During the last ten years he has attended the annual sessions of the Human Rights Commission of the UN held in Geneva and has been lobbying support for his people from the international community.
Besides his theological publications in the earlier years as a member of the Theological Advisory Committee of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC), he has written three books related to the Tamils struggle for freedom.
1. Church, Politics and War in Sri Lanka – in English and Tamil
2. Let My People Go – in English (2 editions), Tamil, French and German
3. Agonies and Aspirations of the Tamil Struggle – 2 editions in English
He has given numerous interviews to media and written articles to several journals in Englsih, Tamil and German. From 1997 to Feb.2007 he was Pastor in a catholic parish in the diocese of Münster. From March 2007 he serves as Vicarius Cooperator in St.Nikolaus Parish, Darfeld in the Diocese of Münster, Germany.
Prof. Dr. S. J. Emmanuel was elected as the President of the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) by the member organizations from 2010-2011 term. Time to time he writes on topics of interest to the Tamil community.