Caritas Sri Lanka – SEDEC was founded in 1968 by a pioneering and visionary priest, Father Joe Fernando. The acronym SEDEC, as it was initially known, stands for Social and Economic Development Centre and is a variant of the Hebrew word SEDEQ, meaning justice and righteousness.
SEDEC was established to provide a base for disseminating the social teaching of the Church. During this era, against the backdrop of Vatican II, the church was concerned with the economic imbalance that prevailed. In the neo-colonial era, following the colonial period, developing countries were more dependant than ever. Poor countries struggled hard to provide basic needs for their people, dependent on subsidies and handouts. The Church viewed with consternation a situation where integral development of men was a far cry.
In Sri Lanka too the church looked at ways and means of grappling with this new state of affairs and with enthusiasm and energy, Reverend Father Joe Fernando embraced this difficult task. Filled with the spirit of Populorum Progressio , he established the Social and Economic Development Centre and dedicated his entire life to alleviating human misery.
“Freedom from misery, greater assurance of economic sustenance, proper health care and fixed employment, an increased share of responsibility without oppression of any kind, better education and assurance of a fuller human enhancement to claim their rightful place in society.”
SEDEC started off under the guidance of late Cardinal Thomas Cooray OMI whose jurisdiction covered the entire island. From its very inception SEDEC worked at the national level