On August 1, the Region of Colombo celebrated the Feast of St Alphonsus. Eleven confreres led by the Regional Superior, Fr Shiran Fonseka, gathered for mass at the Region’s missionary outreach parish of Our Lady of the Rosary in Hewadiwela (Diocese of Ratnapura).

The mass was organised by Frs Rohan Perera (PP) and Amila Pathum (Asst) who are ‘on mission’ in the abandoned parish of Hewadiwela and surrounds. Due to the current humanitarian and economic crisis being experienced by the people of Sri Lanka, the simple, yet upbeat celebration, took place without the presence of parishioners or Redemptorist supporters and collaborators. However, the suffering and struggling people of Sri Lanka were uppermost in the minds of all those present.

Fr Kasun Dananjaya (ordained September 2021) was the principal celebrant and he was assisted at the altar by Frs Kelum Fernando (celebrating his 17th anniversary of profession) and David Hore (homilist).

In his homily, Fr David spoke of St Alphonsus’ courage to leave behind the familiar for the sake of the mission. He encouraged the members of the Region to renew their own missionary courage, rather than opt for nostalgia or the ‘tried and true’, in order to respond to the mission in a very different Sri Lanka; impacted by the Easter Sunday bombings (2019), the CO-VID 19 pandemic and the dire economic, political and social challenges now facing the nation.

During mass, the confreres renewed their vows, while Fr Morris Xavier and the students from the formation community provided lively musical accompaniment.

In his words of thanksgiving, Fr Shiran offered his gratitude to all those present. He paid special tribute to Frs Rohan and Amila for their efforts to organise the occasion and for their generosity and hospitality. Referring to the homily, Fr Shiran said, “Fr David’s words were spoken with moral authority given that he left behind the familiar to serve for so long in Sri Lanka.”

The Feast Day concluded with a celebratory lunch in the community residence.

Special guests for the mass and lunch were Hewadiwela’s next door neighbours, a small community of Rogationist priests and brothers.

Fr Shiran Fonseka, C.Ss.R.