Tree Planting Ceremony at St. Joseph Vaz Shrineat Mahagalgamuwa 

“Planting trees to combat global warming; Planting trees to save the environment.” 

The surrounding area of the National Shrine of St. Joseph Vaz was alive with the smiling faces of the youth from the area carrying banners and placards on the benefits of planting trees in a procession on Saturday, 11th of July. It was led by Rt. Rev. Dr. Harold Anthony Perera, Bishop of Kurunegala accompanied  by Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Gnanapragasam and Rt. Rev. Dr. Maxwell G. Silva, Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Commission for Justice, Peace & Human Development respectively, Rev. Fr. Mahendra Gunatilleke, National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka SEDEC, Very Rev. Fr. Piyal Janaka Fernando, Director of Janasetha – Caritas Kurunegala and Rev. Fr. Alex Janaka the Parish Priest of St. Joseph Vaz shrine. Religious dignitaries representing Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic faiths from Kurunegala also participated.

Following the Holy Mass conducted by His Lordship Bishop Harold, the plants were blessed and taken to the respective locations identified for the tree planting. The tree planting campaign gave a strong message on the importance of preserving the green environment for our future generations falling in line with the message of Pope Francis:  “Laudato Si” (Caring for our Common Home).

This campaign is part of the 4-year Food Security Programme of Caritas Sri Lanka funded by Caritas Norway and NORAD. Under the direction of Rev. Fr. Mahendra Gunatilleke the National Director, the team from the Sustainable Agriculture Unit was involved in planning and organizing this tree planting campaign in coordination with Janasetha – Caritas Kurunegala.

Fr. Mahendra is of the view that there is a huge variety of trees that have to be protected and conserved for posterity; their medicinal value; trees that bear fruits to feed both humans and animals; trees that provide valuable timber and wood for our use; and also the religious significance of some trees such as the ‘Bo’ tree in Buddhist culture; the olive, fig and apricot trees mentioned in the Bible.

It is hoped that this initiative of Caritas Sri Lanka will be emulated by schools, local and national organizations and organize similar events to ‘care for our common home’.