Caritas Sri Lanka-SEDEC is the social arm of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka and is affiliated to Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development, and social service organizations present in 200 countries and territories.
Our national centre is located in the Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital city. Our vision is radiated to the far corners of the island through 12 Diocesan Centres. Caritas Sri Lanka-SEDEC is also the national secretariat of the National Catholic Commission for Justice Peace and Human Development.
Following the initiative taken by Caritas Sri Lanka National Centre in organizing a large quantity of food and non-food items as relief aid for hundreds of flood victims, the physical distribution of these relief goods to affected families in the Districts of Anuradhapura, Pollonnaruwa, Trincomalee and Batticaloa was systematically arranged under the guidance of the respective Diocesan Directors, namely Rev Fr Paaris Jayamaha, Rev Fr G Nithidasan and Rev Fr Geron de Lima, from 13th to 16th February 2015.
A 3-day Workshop on “Effect-based Project Management”, sponsored by Misereor, was held at the SEDEC Auditorium from 18th to 20th February 2015. Among its 35 participants were 10 Caritas staff members from the National and Diocesan Centres.
In the immediate aftermath of the severe flood and landslide situation that prevailed in 22 out of Sri Lanka’s 25 Administrative Districts in December 2014, Caritas Sri Lanka with the help of some of its international partners rushed post-emergency relief assistance to nearly 3,000 affected families in the Dioceses of Kandy, Colombo, Ratnapura, Anuradhapura, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Kurunegala, Jaffna/Vanni, Badulla, Chilaw and Mannar. In fact, according to the Government’s Disaster Management Center, 1.5 million persons had been badly affected, with 109,875 persons living in 599 temporary camps. 5,200 houses were destroyed while 16,290 more were partially damaged. A majority of the victim families are yet to recover from the adverse effects of this disaster. Meanwhile, the damage caused to agriculture was enormous too, thus impacting badly on the livelihoods of many.
Although the military conflict ended in 2009 in Sri Lanka, it is a fact that the damage caused by the war still continues to exist in various forms – displaced people still waiting to be resettled, missing persons to be found, civilian rule to be fully restored, political rights to be obtained, reconciliation to be achieved and the root cause of conflict to be addressed.
I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this meeting which brings together, among others, the four largest religious communities integral to the life of Sri Lanka: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. I thank you for your presence and for your warm welcome. I also thank those who have offered prayers and blessings, and in a particular way I express my gratitude to Bishop Cletus Chandrasiri Perera and to the Venerable Vigithasiri Niyangoda Thero for their kind words.
This is the magnificent prophecy which we heard in today’s first reading. Isaiah foretells the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the ends of the earth. This prophecy has a special meaning for us, as we celebrate the canonization of a great missionary of the Gospel, Saint Joseph Vaz. Like countless other missionaries in the history of the Church, he responded to the Risen Lord’s command to make disciples of every nation (cf. Mt 28:19). By his words, but more importantly, by the example of his life, he led the people of this country to the faith which gives us “an inheritance among all God’s holy ones” (cf. Acts 20:32).
Pope Francis will visit Sri Lanka from 13th to 15th January 2015. During his visit, he will preside over the Canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz at an open air Concelebrated Holy Mass. Among his other engagements will be a meeting with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka, a courtesy call on the President of the country and participation in an interreligious gathering of dignitaries of other faiths. Among those invited for the open air Holy Mass at the Galle Face Green are a group of differently able persons from various parts of the country, and Caritas is coordinating this initiative as part of its work among vulnerable people and marginalized communities.
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