Issued on behalf of Missio

What should have been a joyous celebration of resurrection and new life, Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka this year brought terror to the hearts of the faithful and destroyed innocent lives. These cold-blooded terrorist attacks have devastated the Sri Lankan people and shocked the world.

For many years, Missio’s work in Sri Lanka has enabled communities to break the cycles of poverty and violence. Through education, healthcare and pastoral programmes which promote reconciliation and social cohesion, Missio has supported those who have suffered through decades of civil war and a crippling natural disaster.

Now in the face of this current evil, Sri Lanka needs your prayers and support more than ever.

The National Director of Missio in Sri Lanka, Fr Basil Fernando, sent this to the Missio office here in London:

‘With much heartache and grief, I wanted to share with you about the bomb blasts triggered in Sri Lanka recently. It must be highlighted that this is the first time in the history of Sri Lanka that Roman Catholic churches have been the target of terrorism.

‘It is now reported that a total number of 253 people have laid down their lives, including 38 foreign nationals and 45 children. The total number of injured stands at this moment as approximately 500, among whom there are critically wounded and disabled patients.’

Cardinal Ranjith’s sorrow: ‘Immediately after the attacks were carried out, His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of the diocese of Colombo visited the explosion sites and spoke with people. He expressed his deep sorrow to the victims and their families and urged them not to hurt or attack anybody by taking the law into their own hands.

Being with the people: ‘With much sorrow, I visited the places of the attacks and went to hospitals where the injured are being treated. Speaking to them and hearing of their trauma was heart-breaking.

‘Many who miraculously escaped death do not know and have not been told that some of their family members have lost their lives. Those who are able to talk want to know what happened to the family members who accompanied them to church. Some are certainly dead and gone, but, how to tell them this news?

‘I went to a mass burial of over 60 bodies yesterday at one of the bomb sites. I never want to experience anything like that again in my lifetime – it was devastating beyond words.’

How you can help:
‘As the National Director of Missio (Pontifical Mission Societies) in Sri Lanka, I am trying my best to launch programmes to:
o Provide immediate relief to children and families affected by the bombing
o Provide long-term trauma counselling and spiritual care to help victims and their families rebuild their lives

‘We appeal to you in England and Wales to assist us in carrying out these programmes, however you can. We are taking every opportunity to be of help and support to the affected, in every way possible. We kindly look forward to your generous assistance in our darkest hours. Most importantly, we kindly request you to pray unendingly for our country, the faithful and the Roman Catholic Church.

Fr Basil Rohan Fernando, National Director, Missio Sri Lanka’

By reaching out with love and charity, you can help the survivors of this horror rebuild their lives.

Fr Anthony Chantry, the National Director of Missio in England and Wales shared: ‘During a visit to Sri Lanka two years ago, I was very impressed by all those that I met looking forward to a future of peace and harmony in a country that had been ravaged by thirty years of brutal civil war. There was an enthusiastic resolve to work together towards making Sri Lanka a place of freedom and welcome. In contrast to this, recent horrific events were specifically designed to destroy and divide, something we can all identify as evil at work.

‘In an open letter written by a Sri Lankan Sister to the people who organised, supported and carried out these horrific acts, she writes, “You have broken many, many hearts and you have made the world weep. You have left a huge void, but what you have also done has brought us closer together. And it has strengthened our faith and our resolve. You have achieved your aim of intended destruction, but you have greatly failed to incite hatred, fear and despair in all of us.”

‘Such is the depth of faith and generosity of spirit of our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka. As part of our family, we stand in solidarity with them in prayer and sacrifice. In the death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s love has conquered the power of evil and death. Let us all witness to this in our prayers and actions.’

Please join Missio in praying for peace and if possible, please give what you can: click here