Fr Treesen Silva’s arrival in the Diocese was a milestone in more than one way

By Antony Lawes, 6 June 2024
Fr Treesen Silva, was appointed the first Chaplain of the Sri Lankan community in 2023. Image: Kumar Fernando


When Fr Treesen Silva joined the Diocese of Parramatta at the beginning of 2023, his appointment was a milestone for several reasons. 

He became the Diocese’s first chaplain for the Sri Lankan community, which has grown over recent years and now numbers more than 2000 families across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. And he joined a parish for the first time in his 14 years as a priest, becoming assistant priest at St Patrick’s Parish, in Guildford, under Fr Peter Blayney. 

This dual role, serving two flocks, is keeping Fr Treesen busy. 

Fr Treesen during Mass for the Sri Lankan community. Image: Kumar Fernando

As well as his usual commitments over the Easter period, he wrote a Passion Play combining “the stations of the Cross and the passion of our Lord according to the Gospel of St Matthew”. 

“There were some days that my eyes did not meet enough sleep,” he says. 

Then there has been the steady stream of invitations from members of the Sri Lankan community to bless their homes – and stay for dinner.  

“This is a wonderful opportunity to pray with them in their own houses,” Fr Treesen says.  

He also regularly visits the sick, administers the sacraments to those who ask for it, as well as attending the many events and festivals in the community. 

“The Sri Lankan Catholic community is very happy to have their own chaplain, they have responded very positively, and they always appreciate the availability that I have for them,” he says. 

“The most important thing is that they accept me as their shepherd.” 

As the Sri Lankan Chaplain he has been involved in many community celebrations. Image: Kumar Fernando

But his role in the Guildford parish is equally important to him, and he says he is very lucky to be learning how to be a parish priest from Fr Peter. 

“Fr Peter is one of the best priests I have ever met in my priestly journey,” Fr Treesen says. 

Destined for religious life 

Fr Treesen grew up in the small town of Kandawala, in rural Sri Lanka, the second-eldest of four children. 

He remembers family life fondly and says his mother was his first religious teacher “whose constant prayers resulted in me becoming a priest”.  

“My mother has been the source of strength who taught everyone in the family about how it is wonderful for us to depend on God, from whom every good thing comes.” 

Fr Treesen presenting a gift to a young member of the community. Image: Kumar Fernando

Fr Treesen graduated from the Sri Lankan national seminary of Our Lady of Lanka, in Kandy, in 2008, and for the next 14 years served at several Catholic schools in the country, finishing as Vice Rector at Holy Cross College, Kalutara.  

Then a request came that would change the course of his life. The Archbishop of Colombo asked if he would move to Australia to be the chaplain of the Sri Lankan community in Parramatta.  

The move was his first extended period away from home, “but I was able to adjust myself well here in Australia”, Fr Treesen says. 

Fr Treesen at a Sri Lankan community function. Image: Kumar Fernando

Since arriving, he has met a lot of people from different nationalities and social and economic backgrounds. 

“I have built up good relationships with them and they have been very nice to me. I personally feel that I am catering to the needs of the people who come to me.” 

Fr Treesen says he has seen a strong similarity between Sri Lankans in their home country and those in Australia, especially in the way they worship. But the young Sri Lankan adults in Australia ask a lot more questions compared with those back home, he says. “In Sri Lanka, everyone depends on God by all means.” 

Looking back on his first year in the Diocese, Fr Treesen says he is very grateful to Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, the Bishop of Parramatta, “for accepting me and for the wonderful opportunity given to me to serve in the Diocese and to serve the Sri Lankan Catholic community”. 


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