Johnson Varghese, Territorial Vice President of Asia, and Joseph Pandian, General Vice President of the Council General International, visited the Sri Lanka’s Vincentians in late August. Sri Lanka is a country that has been hit by civil war and has more than 360 active Conferences where the Vincentian Youth spearhead new projects.
The visit of the Council General International’s members with the three previous Sri Lankan SSVP National Presidents in Colombo was the first item covered on the agenda. An interview with the former spiritual adviser was next before heading out to Jaffna, a northern region of Sri Lanka significantly impacted by the civil war.
Even though the train was delayed and arrived very late in Jaffna, the Vincentians patiently waited for the members of the international team and extended them a warm welcome. The members of the international team then met with Bishop Bernard Gnanaprakasham, an avid supporter of the Conferences, followed by a visit to a night school project that provides access to education to many children and adolescents who, otherwise, would not have the means or a place to advance academically. This project is carried out by Vincentian Youth, a source of immense joy to the international team members who discovered how active the Conferences are throughout the country.
A very emotional moment of the trip was passing by the St. Sebastian Parish in Negombo, where more than 140 people died on April 21, 2019 during Palm Sunday celebrations, by a terrorist attack led by Islamic fundamentalists. This Church was one of the multiple targets of the string attacks that rocked the country and claimed more than 500 lives in different locations (Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo).
During the last day of the visit, the members of the international team that participated in the SSVP National Council meeting in Sri Lanka, extended the affectionate greeting that President General, fellow member Renato Lima, addressed to all the Vincentians in the country and announced that Sri Lanka has been appointed as member of the Executive Committee by the International General Council for 2020 and 2021.
Many thanks to the National President, fellow member Cheryl Silva, and the spiritual adviser, P. Roy Clarence, for accompanying and supporting the members of the international structure during their visit.