Prayerful community of Sri Lankans in Jordan

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Prayerful community of Sri Lankans in Jordan

Compiled by Rev. Fr. Rifat Bader/ Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a part of the Holy Land and now the Sri Lankan Catholics also live there as migrants, earning money and sending it back to their families. Sri Lankan Catholics have actually been living there for two decades worshipping and practicing their faith. The Sri Lankan Catholic National Commission for Migrants and Pastoral Care of the Episcopal conference (CNC) started sending their priests to Jordan starting in 2003 and its fourth chaplain presides there now. Interestingly, the chaplain to the Sri Lankan Catholics is inserted into the Vicariate of Amman in Jordan temporarily, responsible for the Sri Lankan community. The chaplain works and nourishes the faith of the community with the direction and support given by the bishop in Jordan.

Sri Lankan Catholics are also gathered in a community, around their chaplain, Father Sri Kantha Appuhamy, a courageous and dynamic 39-year-old priest who began his assignment two years ago. Father Sri kantha is the fourth chaplain of the Catholic community in Jordan. The priest struggles to serve and meet his compatriots scattered throughout Jordan: though the majority of Sri Lankan Catholics is focused in Amman, others, however, live outside the capital, sometimes even far from Amman, but that does not discourage Father Sri kantha who makes it a point of honor to visit his entire flock.

About 30,000 Sri Lankans work in Jordan, and some 3000 of them are Catholic. Working many hours as mainly underpaid factory employees or domestic maids for private individuals leave them tired with little time to be in community and practice their faith. The Sri Lankan Catholics have been given a community and Roman Catholic churches for Mass and Sacraments and they thank the diocese.

The chaplain has received the power and duty of a local parish priest to exercise the ministry with the community. The chaplain Father Sri Kantha was sent by his bishop, Msgr. Valence Mendis, the bishop of the diocese of Chilaw, in Sri Lanka, to take charge of the pastoral care of the Sri Lankan community of Jordan. It is essential to develop a solid pastoral service to his compatriots so that they can feel close to Christ, rooted in their faith but also that they can be trained on all matters relating to the Catholic faith. This is why Father Sri Kantha is active in teaching catechism to the greatest number, from the youngest to the oldest. When migrants are busy with their work and their day-to-day tasks, with the isolation and difficulties of daily life, migrants tend to forget God. Hence, the importance of this pastoral work to help the faithful live as good Christians and to live with Christ.

Now there are more activities to exercise their faith and practices. Each year they celebrate the Marian Month of May by reciting and praying the Rosary and this month has been named the Annual Feast of the community. Since 2017 it has been dedicated to our Lady of Jordan and a beautiful new song, “Marian Hymn” has been wonderfully produced on her name.

The community is a happy community with many of God’s gifts. Some are really talented in singing, dancing, and making the community happy. There are also some others who are interested in sharing and sacrificing their life on the community. They have shared their lives and sacrificed a lot to develop the faith of the people. It’s again very important to mark that the community has the lay leadership and spirituality to organize their events in good spirit. This community is a believing community where they are not afraid to face challenges in the name of Jesus. They have organized many events in a yearly schedule of the community, such as the celebration of the New Year, Easter Triduum, May Feast, and Spiritual Renewal with praise and worship program, the Christmas High Mass with carol presentation, annual pilgrimages to the feasts of Baptism site and Our Lady of Mount in Anjara are some of them.

Among the milestones, the arrival of Msgr. Cletus Perera, bishop of the diocese of Ratnapura, Sri Lanka, in 2017 May, the month of Mary – to whom Sri Lankan bears great devotion – for a pastoral visit, was a highlight. This visit was perceived as a real encouragement by the Sri Lankan community and reinforced the certainty of being supported, welcomed by their Christian brothers and sisters in Jordan, and thus becoming full members of the Christian community. This pastoral visit was followed again in July by that of another Sri Lankan bishop, Msgr. Harold Anthony Perera, Bishop of the Diocese of Kurunegala, Sri Lanka, also the Chairman of the Catholic National Commission for Migrants and pastoral care for the Episcopal Conference in Sri Lanka. During his stay in Jordan he was able to visit factory migrants and many other Sri Lankans in Amman.

At last but not least the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Vicariate of Amman is thankful to Fr. Sri kantha who has been a source of encouragement to the community to practice their faith. When the community of believers goes step by step searching God with their life events it is our duty to help them, care for them, make them pastoral plans to uplift them. We believe this community of believers will lift up to the Lord with their experiences in God.

Sat, 06/30/2018 - 21:57
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