01/27/2018, 13.28
SRI LANKA
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Some 200 girls start school at Holy Family Convent in Colombo (photos)

by Melani Manel Perera

The older students give the new pupils welcome tags and lotus flowers to offer to Our Lady. The Catholic school’s task "is to create an environment that takes care” of students. Its “educational method stimulates curiosity, self-discipline, positive attitudes and compassion.”

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Second grade students at Holy Family Convent (HFC) in Bambalapitiya, on the outskirts of Colombo, have joyfully welcomed their "little sisters", 200 five-year-old girls who started school this year.

To make them feel part of the same school family, they prepared some tags for them to put around the neck with the inscription "Welcome to HFC 2018”.

"As of today, we are their akkila (elder sisters in Sinhala) and they are our nagas (little sisters),” some students told AsiaNews. “We already love them."

The welcome ceremony took place on 17 January in the presence of the parents of the pupils enrolled in the school.

The girls were greeted by a musical band, composed of second grade students. Then, all together with the teachers at their side, they headed towards the statue of the Virgin Mary.

Here the young students received a lotus flower to offer to Our Lady as a token of their devotion. Afterwards songs, prayers and dances were performed.

“You chose Holy Family Convent school for your children,” Sister Jessica Kulathunga, head of the primary school, told the parents, “but, in reality, it was God who chose for them. You have a role to play in his divine plan."

"You are today what your daughters will be tomorrow,” she added. “You have a great responsibility because children learn by imitating."

Fr Emmanuel Jipson, member of a faith outreach group in the diocese of Colombo, invited parents to do certain things before taking their daughters to school.

"Take them to a place of worship near your home, and in front of the statue of the Sacred Heart or the Blessed Mother, say some prayers and cross yourselves,” he said. “Only afterwards send them to school. It is at home that little girls will start to learn. Teach them to grow in the grace of Jesus Christ."

Speaking to the girls, the clergyman said, "Repeat after me: from today onward I shall pray every day, I shall study hard, and I shall do everything to make my parents, my friends and my teachers happy. At home you will eat and sleep well."

HFC head Sister Deepa Fernando noted that the Catholic school’s task "is to create an environment that takes care and motivates students to pursue individual excellence and acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to continuous growth.”

“Here,” she added, “the educational method stimulates curiosity, self-discipline, positive attitudes and compassion. The school’s mission is to create, nurture and promote a holistic learning community in which every student can progress and reach its full potential in a spirit of modesty, simplicity, honesty and charity."

Citing Pope Francis who spoke at a meeting with confirmed children on 25 March 2017 in Milan (Italy), the school principal reminded parents that "Our children are constantly watching us – even if we do not realise it, they watch us all the time and learn.”

"Children look at us. You cannot imagine the anguish a child feels when parents argue. They suffer! And when parents separate, they pay the bill. When you bring a child into the world, you must be aware of this: we take the responsibility to raise the child in the faith.”

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