An interview with Franciscan Father Malaka Leonard Fernando.
Father Malaka Leonard Fernando is the Minister Provincial of the Vice Province of our Lady of Lanka, Sri Lanka, of the Third Order Regular Franciscans. His residence is near Katuwapitiya, where St. Sebastian’s Church was bombed on Easter morning. The congregation also has a Friary just in front of St. Sebastian’s Church. Fortunately none of the friars were injured. Father Fernando spoke with Aid to the Church in Need:
When did you get the news about the bomb blasts?
On Easter Sunday I said Mass at 7 a.m. at a nearby church, and just after Mass I got the news of six blasts that took place within a short space of time; Katuwapitiya, Colombo-Kochchikade, Baticaloa and three hotels in Colombo.
UNICEF reported that at least 47 died children in the massacre. You also have a school (minor seminary) a few miles away from the city of Negombo. What about the children, can they understand what has happened?
We Sri Lankans suffered enough from 30 years of war against terrorists. We thought that Sri Lanka was becoming a peaceful country. But with these blasts, all our hope has gone. We are far away from peace.
Today, a considerable number of children have become victims of the blasts. Children are innocent. They are unable to understand what is happening. Most of the children are in fear. Schools are closed for a few days.
What was the reaction of the Christians? Are they in fear?
We never expected these kinds of incidents to happen in our country. On the one hand, Sri Lankan Christians always listen to their pastors. They do not harm others. On the other hand, most of the Christians are now in fear. That is because only Christians were targeted by the attacks.
What is your message for the world?
“There is no way to peace, peace is the way.” The way of peace is the path of love. St. Francis, our patron saint, loved people and the nature alike. Let us take every possible step to avoid violence and live peacefully.
Do you know a prayer to Our Lady of Lanka that we could share with our benefactors and urge them to pray for Sri Lanka?
Thank you very much for your concern for our country. May God bless you!
We recite the following prayer every day for our country:
“O Most Loving and Tender Mother, Queen and Patroness of Sri Lanka, we humbly ask you to look upon us, your children, in our hour of need. Dearest Mother, you have come to our rescue, even in times of peril, from war and destruction. In your never failing love for us, we earnestly ask you to dispel from our midst waves of violence, killings and addictions, and various forms of evil actions to disrupt unity among people.
“Help us to build in our land God’s Kingdom of Justice and Love. We entrust to your loving care and guidance all races and peoples of our country. Help us to bring about brotherhood, peace and unity in our society. Guide the destinies of our nation and obtain for us lasting peace so that all of us may live as brothers and sisters of one family. Amen.”
ACN is a Catholic charity — helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. For more information, visit www.churchinneed.org