08/06/2015, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Thirteen adults convert in August, a gift from Jesus and Mary

by Melani Manel Perera
Shanika and Sriyani, two Buddhists, embraced Catholicism. For the nun who followed the two catechumens, their journey of faith “was a blessing.”

Kochchikade (AsiaNews) – After personally experiencing the love of Jesus and Mary, 13 men and women in Kochchikade decided to become Catholic.

Sr Mary Harriet, of the Sisters of the Holy Family, trained them, so last Saturday the catechumens were baptised at the Saint Philip Neri Church, in Toppuwa. For the nun, being a catechist and helping these people on their journey of faith “was a blessing.”

Probodhani Shanika, 19, was born a Buddhist. Originally from Pollonnaruwa, she went to live with her mother’s sister in Kochchikade after she lost both of her parents when she was young.

"Every day, I had a chance to see people pray and follow Christian rituals,” she told AsiaNews.  “Slowly, I realised that I was intrigued by this religion”. This curiosity eventually grew after she met a neighbour who was a bit older and a Catholic.

"When he told me he loved me and that he wanted to spend his life with me, I went to see my aunt to see if she had any objections. Since he was good man, she had nothing reproachable to say, and gave us her blessing. That was in 2011, when we started our love affair.” Her fiancé is 25 years old and works as a company driver.

However, shortly after the beginning of their relationship, Shanika got seriously sick. Scared, her fiancé made a vow to Our Lady to light a candle as tall as his beloved, if she was healed. "It was a miracle,” she said, “because a few days later I was well again.”

“I too started to pray to Mary and Jesus. My faith became deeper, and I felt happy when I prayed. When I expressed a desire to marry in church, I realised I wanted to convert and become Catholic."

Her future mother-in-law accompanied her to see Sister Harriet, in the convent in Bambukuliya, where she took catechism courses.

Like Shanika, Sriyani Tennakoon, a 42-year old mother of three, decided to embrace Catholicism. Born a Buddhist, she married to a Catholic. Her children followed her husband's religion.

"After getting married in 2006, I too started to pray, in my own way, especially when I needed something, she explained. “I lit candles to Jesus and Mary, and I realised that, in a short time, my wishes were fulfilled."

Once, "I prayed because my husband could not find work,” she said. “Three days later, he had a job. These little miracles have touched my life so deeply, that I decided to become a Catholic."

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