The Region of Colombo celebrated the opening of a new missionary community and outreach on Sunday, July 12, by accepting the pastoral responsibility for the parish of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Hewadiwela in the Diocese of Ratnapura.
In the presence of a large gathering of local people, Bishop Cletus Perera, OSB (Bishop of Ratnapura) was the principal celebrant and preacher at the 8 am mass, during which Frs Rohan Perera (Parish Priest) and Amila Pathum (Assistant Priest) were formally appointed and installed as the new parish team; assuming their missionary responsibilities on behalf of the Region.
Fr Shiran Fonseka (Regional Superior) and Fr Chandana Perera (Vicar) were joined by confreres, as well as priests from the Diocese, to witness and rejoice in this very significant occasion for the Region.
Fr Shiran described Hewadiwela as “a small and needy Sinhala speaking rural parish with a distinct feeling of ‘Alphonsus and Scala’, because the people have been largely abandoned since last year, like sheep without a shepherd.” After the Holy Mass, Fr Shiran concluded by saying, “This is a moment of happiness for the Redemptorists in Sri Lanka by being faithful to the spirit of our founder and accepting this abandoned parish where people are wounded.”
In a recent letter to the Region, Fr Shiran acknowledged Fr Michael Brehl (Superior General), Fr John Hodgson (Provincial – Oceania), Fr Sebastian Ani Dato (Consultor General) and Fr Ben Ma (Coordinator – Asia-Oceania) for their support. “Each of our leaders visited Hewadiwela earlier this year and were most encouraging of the Region to ‘venture out into the deep’ and explore this new missionary endeavor.”
Hewadiwela missionary community is the Region’s concrete response to live and work in solidarity with the wounded world, as witnesses of the Redeemer. The parish also provides other God-given blessings for the Region, including vocation promotion, mission immersion, pastoral experience, and transition to ministry. When learning of the Region’s new venture, Fr General said, “This is a very important step for you as a Region…and it will bear fruit in ways we do not yet expect.”
Prior to taking charge of the community, much work was undertaken by confreres, seminarians, local parishioners, and Redemptorist supporters to complete some necessary repairs and renovation to the community residence and church.
As it embarks on this new and exciting missionary challenge, the Region of Colombo would be grateful for the prayerful support of confreres across the world.
David J. Hore, C.Ss.R.