The group’s members belong to the congregation of the Holy Family. They left Jaffna for Wennappuwa, near Colombo. Here they immediately established "deep affections and friendships". For one participant, “we would like more exchange programmes” to create good relationships.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – Forty-nine members of congregation of the Holy Family founded by Pierre-Bienvenu Noailles (PBN) made a north-south journey across the island-nation to strengthen peace and foster reconciliation in the country.
Participants left Jaffna in the north and travelled towards Colombo. They stopped at about 50 km from the capital, where they spent three days at the convent of Wennappuwa, staying in the homes of other members of the same Catholic community.
Despite the brevity of the visit and "the difficulty of understanding a different language," they all attest to "deep affections and friendships".
The trip took place on 8-10 June. The pilgrims - 30 young women and girls, 12 lay women and seven sisters – came from the districts of Jaffna, Mannar and Vavuniya. For them, the meeting provided an opportunity to "share the strong love we have for each other".
For this reason, "we would like more exchange programmes,” Thushari, from Colombo, told AsiaNews. “This way, we can build good reciprocal relationships."
"A few months ago, a request came for the meeting and we welcomed it,” said Sister Priyanka Perera, national head of the Holy Family Lay group (Supasa). “We hope to continue this for a long time."
For Sister Judith and Sister Christine, the exchange can be defined as "the good start of a long journey in which we can deepen the relationship between the provinces of Colombo and Jaffna". All the travellers were "amazed at the warm reception they received. They even decorated various places."
An elderly mother received a plant as a reminder of the trip to the south. "I will plant it with love,” she said, “like a tree of the Holy Family. I hope this plant will become a big tree and that our family will also grow."
The pilgrims did not only receive gifts, but also reciprocated the hospitality. For example, Margaret Fernando said that Quincy and Shalika, two Jaffna youths whom she hosted for a night "did not allow me to prepare breakfast. They wanted to cook pittu for me, that is a food with corn flour and coconut, and an omelette with curry. For me it was like receiving the affection of two daughters."
On 8 June, the travellers were welcomed with the Aubowan, a wish of long life, followed by singing and dancing in the Sinhalese and Tamil traditions.
The next day they attended Mass, celebrated by Fr Tanter. At the end of the service, they visited Santh Samaya, a home for older nuns and children, and Meth Niwesa, another home for older women.