Tewatte: chapel and grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes open to the faithful (photos)
by Melani Manel Perera

The inauguration ceremony took place on 3 February. The McLarens Group of Sri Lanka funded the construction. The new site includes a big stage for meetings, confessionals in the church, and a water stream around the building to symbolise purification (and healing).

Ragama (AsiaNews) – Card Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, inaugurated the new chapel and grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Tewatte. It is a faithful replica of the original place of worship in France.

In his homily the cardinal called on the faithful to "thank God for giving us such a loving Mother". He also invited those present to make "the chapel and grotto a place to pray and meditate for peace. Come to this place and start a new life of prayers and loving spirituality centred on Mary."

The ceremony took place last Saturday. The faithful participated with joy in the Mass, which was followed by a candle-lit procession, during which the Rosary was recited and the statue of Mary carried.

Card Ranjith thanked Mr Rohan De Silva, CEO of the McLarens Group of Sri Lanka, who financed the construction of the church with a donation of more than 100 million rupees (US$ 650,000).

Some believers told AsiaNews that they were “happy because now we too have a Lourdes chapel in our country". Others are not so positive, noting that the new construction is only a "duplicate" of the original.

According to a retired teacher from Colombo, "it's just imagination. If you want to get the real atmosphere or the impression of the real Lourdes, you have to go to France".

A group of lay people from Kandana parish noted that "in Tewatte there is already a basilica with shrine dedicated to Our Lady, with large spaces and structures suitable for personal prayer and gatherings".

Therefore, they ask themselves, "why did the Church hierarchy squander so much money? The Church teaches us simplicity and the authentic faith."

Still, they appreciate the new grotto, located behind a stage "that can be used for many purposes, such as prayer meetings".

On the archdiocese’s website, one can read that "the purpose of the building” is “to help the faithful,” who can “gather to pray” with minds at peace” and “promote the devotion to Mother Mary and emulate the values of Mother Mary in their lives.”

“The lighting and the landscaping has been done in such a way that everyone who comes” will “not be distracted from their prayers.  There are confessionals made so that the faithful who wish to make their confessions can do so easily.  A stream of water adds more beauty and meaning as one cross over it in a symbol of cleansing after they have made their confession.”

Card Ranjith concluded the event by intoning a prayer to Our Lady. "Dear loving mother, we love you very much; therefore, in this hard life, help us, strengthen us, and give peace to face this life. Make us peaceful in this sorrowful life. When we are become prey to the evil one, save us Mother, make our families more united”.