Colombo (Agenzia Fides) - "You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth and summoned from its far-off places, You whom I have called my servant, whom I have chosen and will not cast off": is the theme of the special Day of the indigenous clergy inspired by the Biblical passage of Isaiah (Is 41,9) which, organized by the National Directorate of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Sri Lanka, will be celebrated tomorrow July 25 and intends to raise awareness on vocations to priesthood and on the formation of young people on their path to priesthood. "You are my servant, chosen", reads the poster drawn up by the Sri Lankan PMS and spread throughout the dioceses of the country. The faithful, despite the hard times marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, will attend (in a limited number) churches, gathering in prayer for indigenous vocations.
"The Day - explains to Agenzia Fides Fr. Basil R. Fernando, National Director of the PMS in Sri Lanka - will also be the occasion for the special national collection in favor of the Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostle which, among the Pontifical Mission Societies, deals specifically with the life of Seminaries and formators". "In this way - continues the Director - the whole Church in Sri Lanka intends to contribute to having at heart the formation of the clergy both in our nation, but also in all other countries of the world, with a universal horizon that is always that of the Catholic Church. We live in very difficult times, the wounds of disease, poverty and indigence are making themselves felt, people suffer from the lockdowns imposed by the pandemic and many families have great difficulties for daily sustenance, today especially in the western part of Sri Lanka. Despite all this, faith pushes us to broaden our gaze, to consider those who suffer throughout the world, to pray and materially help the life of the Church and the formation of the 'workers of the Lord's vineyard'. For this reason the 12 dioceses of the nation, which a month ago received an envelope from all the parishes to donate their offering, will contribute with their heart and with great sacrifice to the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, offering one’s contribution during the Eucharistic celebration tomorrow July 25". The contributions collected will be destined above all to major and minor Seminaries to help the formation of future priests.
Alongside the collection, special prayers will be recited during mass so that more and more young people will respond to the call of the Lord, to become priests.
The Day of the Indigenous Clergy explicitly refers to the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, founded in France in 1889 thanks to the work of two women, Stephanie and Jean Bigard, with the idea of preparing and contributing materially and spiritually to evangelization, helping to develop in every nation with an indigenous clergy.
According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Catholic Church (2019) in Sri Lanka, out of a population of 21.8 million, Catholics are 1.6 million; there are 953 diocesan Catholic priests, while 580 are those belonging to religious congregations. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 24/7/2021)