The General Promoter of Justice and Peace and the Order’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Fr. Mike Deeb, OP, was in Sri Lanka from 28th of January to 8th of February 2017. He came here to help priests and religious for human rights prepare for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. The UPR is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States.
The active involvement of our local JPCC Promoter, Fr. Manoj Rasanjana, OP, in several human rights advocate groups prompted Fr. Deeb to come and be familiarized with the prevailing situation in the country. Several meetings, speaking engagements and ocular visits were arranged in Colombo and areas in the north for such purpose.
One of those meetings was an encounter with the Dominican Family organized by the local superiors on the 29th of January 2017 at the Holy Rosary Seminary in Katana. Four (4) OP Laity of St. Martin de Porres Naguda Chapter together with their president Mrs. Shiela Perera, OP, were first to arrive. There were ten (10) from St. Catherine of Siena sisters with Sr. Calistra Siyambalapitiya, OP, their new Regional Superior; nine (9) from the Dominican Sisters of Malta headed by their Superior, Sr. Sirima Opanayake, OP, who attended. Three (3) members from the Fathers Community namely, Fr. Manoj Rasanjana, OP, Fr. Jayalath Balagalla, OP, and Fr. Jaime Alamillo, OP, were present.
A week before this gathering, each branch of the Family was instructed to prepare a report of their JPCC activities and involvement in their respective localities. Listening to each other made us realize the magnitude of concerns to be addressed most especially among the marginalized sector of Sri Lankan society. Institutional, communal and/or individual charitable acts were never lacking. A very heart-warming story was reported by Mrs. Irene Louis, OP, whose chapter members regularly conduct tutorial classes for fifty (50) poor kids in their parish. They even had to open a bank account for each of the twenty (20) regular class attendees, the fund of which came from their own pocket and donors’ contribution.
Fr. Deeb was happy to find out how excellent were the efforts being made by the sisters and brothers to help in the educational institutions, orphanages, tea estates and parishes among others. He expressed his approval by saying: “I would like to congratulate you for letting the people experience the Good News”. As his remarks ended, he challenged the participants “to find ways to become more impactful preachers of this Good News”; and he pledged to represent them and their concerns to the UN.
Br. Jaime C. Alamillo, OP
PhilDom January 2017
(10 February 2017)