03/30/2016, 17.44
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For Sri Lankan students, the Passion of Christ teaches harmony between religions

by Melani Manel Perera

The Negombo Department of Education held a seminar on national unity attended by students of various religions, excited to share messages of peace and harmony. One student would like to see the experience done at least three times a month. Only this way can her age cohorts create true bonds of friendship that transcend ethnic and religious differences.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Some Sri Lankan students from various religious schools took part in a national unity seminar during Easter Triduum. "Such events enlighten our mind and spirit and teach us how to live in peace and unity,” some of the students told AsiaNews. “They also teach us how to be witnesses of our faith in God as Catholics."

The Negombo Department of Education, on the west side of the island nation, held the seminar on Holy Thursday at the St Mary’s Boys School. Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist students from other schools also took part.

The kids prepared reports on the topic of religious harmony. They also joined in the dances and plays inspired by the concept of unity that followed.

“We cannot say that the end of the war brought peace and harmony to the nation,” said P A Michael, a zonal education director. “We have a lot to do in our respective fields to build unity among ethnic and religious groups. This is why the government established such a programme. Everyone has a responsibility to prevent a repeat of war crimes."

The students’ participation was enthusiastic. Marian Thiyaga, a student from Duuwa Junior School, suggested that similar meetings could be held at least three times a month. "If we Sinhalese, Tamils ​​and Muslims can meet more frequently, we can develop bonds of friendship even though we belong to different ethnic and religious groups," she said.

Speaking about the movie The Passion of the Christ, which was screened for the occasion, she said, "I could not look at the suffering and the bloody wounds all over Jesus’ body when he carried such a heavy cross. I wish I had been there to help him. The period of Lent reminds us to renew our lives through the passion of Christ."

Finally, Fr Ranjith Terry explained what should be the “commitment and mission of Christians. The basic teachings apply to all religions. We cannot say that we alone are children of God, that Jesus came into the world to save only Catholic children. We are all children of God, and Jesus came to save everyone! Those who want to save their life must follow his teachings.”

“Jesus,” he added, “invited us to change the world, to live together as brothers and sisters. We need to understand and respect each other. We must listen to others’ pain and seek solutions to people’s problems. Only this way we can become children of God."

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