Sydney - "I recently returned from one of the most difficult journeys of my priestly life: I visited the survivors of the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, innocent people whose lives were torn to pieces. It has been months since that terrible day and a lot has been done to help those in need, but there is still so much to do. The difficult situation of these people moved me and prompted me to write, asking for the help of the members of our Catholic community". This is the letter, sent to Agenzia Fides, that Father Brian Lucas, National Director of Catholic Mission, Australian section of the Pontifical Mission Societies, addressed to all the Australian faithful, asking to support the victims of the attacks that last April 21, Easter Day 2019, hit three churches and some hotels in the area of Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka.
"One of the moments that moved me most was the encounter with the survivors of the massacres: for example, Thilina, a 34-year-old woman who probably will need treatment for the rest of her life due to the head injury reported on April 21. Then I met many children who had lost one or both parents", says Fr. Lucas.
To support the families affected, Catholic Mission has launched a fundraiser, which will finance scholarships for orphaned children and also a post-trauma counseling program, dedicated to those who still cannot psychologically overcome the shock of the attacks.
Fr. Lucas exolains: "The diocese of Colombo has made many efforts to help survivors overcome the trauma. A program called ‘On the Road of Peace’ is already active, which consists of group therapy sessions among people who have recently experienced experiences of strong violence and others who have overcome equally difficult moments and now live happily. This serves to give hope to those who saw the Easter massacre with their own eyes".
The April 21 attacks were attributed to the "National Thowheeth Jama'ath", a local terrorist group, and caused 253 deaths. In addition to four accommodation facilities, three Christian places of worship were affected: the sanctuary of St. Anthony in Kotahena, the church of St. Sebastian in Negombo and the church of Sion in Batticaloa. In the park of the church of St. Sebastian a memorial chapel was built in honor of the victims, with funds donated by Catholics from around the world. >>