Gnanapragasam was born in Karampon, Sri Lanka, in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1974. He has served in a number of roles in the Diocese of Jaffna and is currently vicar general.
He succeeds Bishop Thomas Savundaranayagam Emmanuel, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.
The Diocese of Jaffna has a population of nearly 1.5 million with less than a quarter million Catholics. They are served by about 150 priests and 325 religious.
Sri Lanka is officially Buddhist, with about 70% of the population professing that religion. Another 12.6% are Hindu and 9.7% are Muslim. Catholics make up about 6% of the population and another 1% profess other Christian creeds.