06/15/2009, 00.00
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Less money on Saint Anthony celebrations, more for refugees

by Melani Manel Perera
In Dalupoth parish in Negomobo, near Colombo, the faithful use the patron saint’s feast day to collect aid for refuges.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – On the feast day of their Church’s patron saint, Saint Anthony, members of the Dalupoth parish in Negomobo, near Colombo, decided to collect aid for Tamil war refugees living in camps.

The local parish priest, Fr Roshan Fernando, told AsiaNews that the idea simply came from the realisation that “once the fighting was over, the refugees had to rebuild a normal life in a short period of time and that we could help them.”

The clergyman said that he and the members of his congregation talked it over to see how they could best celebrate the feast day without forgetting the dramatic situation of thousands of war refugees.

“I did not force them but after I explained to them the victims’ situation and the true meaning of the Lord’s teachings, they recognised that helping the refugees had to be done. Of course, some were opposed, but in the end everyone accepted,” the clergyman said.

This is why ‘Sharing our feast with war victims’ became the main theme in this year’s celebrations.

“I called on parishioners to celebrate by cutting back on spending for decoration, food, firecrackers and clothing and use the money instead to buy something useful for the refugees,” Father Fernando said.

The aid that was collected from the population was enough for two truckloads.

“We must care for people in need wherever and whoever they are,” said Chinthaka Fernando, 23, who looks after the parish youth. “Finding a way to share our joy with them is the best way to understand and experience humankind’s great love.”

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