LINCOLN (SNR) - In 2011, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz welcomed to the Diocese of Lincoln Sri Lankan citizens who were studying for the priesthood for their home Archdiocese of Colombo.
Fathers Eranga de Silva and Asitha Hettiarchchi studied at Mount Saint Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., were ordained deacons and served at Lincoln-area parishes before their final year of formation and their ordination as priests in 2014.
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Fathers Shanaka Dilhara and Gerald Ferreira also studied at Mount St. Mary’s and served in the Diocese of Lincoln before they were ordained priests in 2015.
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They came to the diocese at the request of Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, who knew Bishop Bruskewitz. During the men’s time studying for the priesthood with Diocese of Lincoln seminarians, they were affectionately referred to as “Sri-Lincolns.”
After the April 21 bombings, people in the Diocese of Lincoln reached out to check on the safety of their Sri Lankan friends.
Father de Silva confirmed that there had been nine blasts in eight different places, including three churches during the Easter Masses.
“We were asked to cancel all the Masses for the day,” he related, “and also to avoid gathering people in public places.”
He said they were waiting for more news, but asked people to continue to pray for Sri Lanka.
“Thank you so much for your prayers,” Father Ferreira wrote in a Facebook post April 23, accompanied by a photo of a young boy praying over a casket. “We are truly blessed to have such faith in such chaos.”
He said at least 50 priests went to pray and visit homes of the deceased and found almost every home praying the rosary when they visited, among “an eerie silence on the streets.”
They were preparing for 30 funerals that day, with more in days to follow. “Please keep praying for families of the deceased,” he said. “They need our prayers most.”