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Father Selvaratnam James Dunstan was born July 25, 1970 at Sillalai, known as the “Little Rome” in Jaffna (Sri Lanka). He is the youngest of three children. His desire for the priesthood goes back to his childhood. Father Florentine Rajaratnam, a member of the Voluntas Dei Institute, was his parish priest when James made his first communion. It was later that he learned about the Institute at an information day on different seminaries on the region. He was struck with the second five of the Spirituality of the 5-5-5 – the spiritual attitudes – and he joined the Institute in 1986 at the time Father Rajaratnam was director of the Institute in India and Sri Lanka.  

James completed his studies at St. Francis Seminary with a diploma in philosophy. He also has a baccalaureate in theology (Rome, Italy) and masters in missiology (Ottawa, Canada). He was ordained a priest in the Voluntas Dei Institute on July 25, 1997.

James is known for his respect of others and his ability to bring peace and friendship. He is also a generous person who is available to anyone in need. This quality has made him a missionary who has climbed the steps of service to the position of director general of the Institute.

As a priest, he first exercised his ministry for a few years in the dioceses of Jaffna and Mannar during the difficult period of the civil war. He then taught in the major seminaries of Jaffna and Kandy. He was also rector of the Institute’s minor and major seminaries in Sri Lanka. In 2004 the young Sri Lankan priest was elected to a six-year term as general councillor. He was then elected director of the Sri Lanka Region in 2006, a position he held for two years. In 2008, the Region was given the canonical status of district-in-formation, and Father James continued in his mandate as director until his election as director general in 2010. At the 10th General Assembly on July 2016, he has been re-elected as the Director General for a period of six years.

He has been living in Trois-Rivières (Québec), at the Voluntas Dei headquarters. For the next six years, Father James’s objectives are: 1) to be in union with the spirit of Father Parent at the founding of the Institute; 2) according to the Institute’s apostolic objective, create an atmosphere of peace and fellowship among the membership; 3) stress the second point of the Institute’s spirituality – the spiritual attitudes – to connect to the second objective; 4) give the Institute greater visibility in the world through the use of new technologies; 5) bring spiritual aid to the members, to help them discern, in the Holy Spirit, the will of God, helping them in this way be true Voluntas Deis.