In this year of the Good Shepherd declared in the Archdiocese of Colombo, I am greatly pleased to pen a few words in union with Dehiwala Parish community. The facade of the church with a beautiful Christian architecture stands as a symbol of the fruitful history of the Church, traced back to 1835. It has been a history of communion and committed pastoral activity. It has been a profound witness to the community life rooted in Jesus Christ: “I am the wine you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit”(John 15:5).
The progress of the community can be measured by it fidelity to traditional values and openness to new horizons. Different committees and associations focusing on apostolic prayers, liturgical activities, social welfare, Catechetical apostolate, child-you-family apostolate shows a combined missionary effort. It reflects the journey of a participatory Church envisaged and encouraged by Second Vatican Council Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, art 11 and Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia.
The devotion to blessed Mother Mary is part of the great heritage of the Catholic Church. It was a special grace to the Dehiwala Parish when the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, on the journey around the worlds was brought to Sri Lanka in 1945, her first stop was at St. Mary’s Church Dehiwala. It is a matter of joy and gratitude that the Marian devotion continues to enrich the parish community life. The parish has gifted to the nation great civil workers, priests and religious emerging from the rich spiritual and pastoral soil.
It is a fact that with the changing trends in socio-cultural and political spheres, the parish apostolate face many a challenge. The life styles and thinking patterns are rationally affected by the reality. It is the pastoral task of the parish community, while preserving the spiritual and cultural heritage to discover new possibilities to promote the pastoral activity. The launching of the website of the parish is a positive effort for far-reaching apostolic work in today’s context. Pope Francis’ timely exhortation is quite relevant: “Spirit-filled evangelizers are evangelizers who pray and work.” (Joy of the Gospel, No. 262). It is my prayer and my wish that this website be an effective means for a fruitful parish apostolate.