THE National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Sri Lanka has thanked Missio Scotland and its supporters for coming to the aid of the people there in the wake of the devastating bomb blasts in April this year by raising more than £11,000 to date via a special appeal.
Fr Basil Rohan Fernando recently wrote to his Scottish counterpart, Fr Vincent Lockhart, Missio Scotland’s National Director, to express his gratitude for the Scottish branch of the PMS having set up an emergency appeal for his people and also to give some further information about the tragedy and what the Church there hopes to achieve with the funds it receives.
The attacks—which according to Sri Lankan Government officials, were carried out by seven Sri Lankan suicide bombers associated with National Thowheeth Jama'ath, a local militant Islamist group with suspected foreign ties—saw two churches and three hotels in Colombo and a church in Batticloa targeted by suicide bombers. As a result of the blasts, some 359 Sri Lankans—including 45 children—and 38 foreign nationals have died to date, while more than 500 others have been injured. Hundreds of children were among those injured and, tragically, many have been left orphaned too.
The funds generously donated by Missio Scotland’s supporters will be split between three different projects. Firstly, a portion of the funds will go towards the building of the 'Monumental Chapel of Martyrs' (above) in the new burial ground at Katuwapitiya, Ngombo in Sri Lanka, where more than 60 of those Catholics who died in the recent bombings on Easter Sunday are buried in a mass grave. His Eminence, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, had appealed to Missio Scotland and its brothers and sisters in Missio England and Wales to assist with the cost of the chapel. Secondly, some of the funds will go towards an education fund, which has been set up to financially assist the children who lost their parents in the bombings. And last, but not least, a programme has been set up to assist those who were left injured, disabled and traumatised by the attacks, which will also be funded by Scottish donations.
“I wish to thank Fr Vincent Lockhart, Missio Scotland and its supporters for praying for us and showing concern for the Pontifical Mission Societies’ mission in Sri Lanka,” Fr Fernando said. “I am grateful for you having accepted to support us financially in the construction of the Monumental Chapel for Martyrs at the new burial ground at Katuwapitiya, Negombo, where more than 60 bodies of the martyrs have been laid to rest in a common grave. Your generous assistance gives us the strength needed to be able to complete the project and we really appreciate your generosity.
“We are taking every possible step to be of help and support to those affected in any way we can and we kindly request that you continue to pray unendingly for our country, the Catholic Faithful and the Catholic Church.”
For his part, Fr Lockhart was pleased that Missio Scotland and its supporters had shown their support in such a swift manner for our brothers and sisters in faith in Sri Lanka and explained why he considered the Chapel for Martyrs to be a fitting tribute to the victims of the attacks.
“Those who died were participating in the Eucharist and can be considered as martyrs for the faith,” he said. “The chapel will be a testimony to that faith, but also of the hope of the whole Church in the power of Our Lord’s Resurrection.”
If you would like to donate to our Sri Lankan Appeal, you can do so by visiting: www.missioscotland.com/sri-lankan-appeal