For the first time in the Midlands, Sri Lankan Sinhalese Catholic Chaplain to the UK Rev Fr Prasad Fernando celebrated Holy Mass at St Chad’s Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Birmingham on Saturday 5 July at 6pm. It was pleasing to see such an enthusiastic turnout of members of the Sri Lankan Community along with other nationalities.
The Mass was a great opportunity for all Sri Lankans in the Midlands and surrounding areas to join together as a community and celebrate Holy Mass in Sinhalese, the native language of Sri Lanka. It was a truly special occasion, proving that God’s message of love is universal and relevant across the world.
This momentous occasion was a further blessing for parents Anne Ishara and Gayan Samantha as their baby son George Anuhas was baptised by Fr Prasad prior to the commencement of Mass.
Father Prasad’s homily was very moving and touched the hearts of the many present. Fr Prasad preached on the Gospel of the day according to Matthew 11:25-30 and pointed specifically to the paragraph which said ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’
Fr Prasad was very animated in his homily emphasising the importance of attending Sunday Mass in the presence of the Holy Eucharist and the importance of enacting the message of God in today’s world.
The liturgy was enriched by the beautiful voices of the Sri Lankan choir from the Roman Catholic Church of St Mary Magdalen in Willesden Green, London, who sang stunning renditions of Sinhalese hymns. We were very grateful to all members of the choir who travelled all the way from London at their own expense and giving up their time so generously to sing at our Mass here at St Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham. Incidentally, the choir had been rehearsing for our Mass for over 6 weeks which further shows their dedication and commitment for which the Catholic community in the Midlands are very grateful.
After Mass, the community gathered together to share in a meal of traditional Sri Lankan delicacies which was laid out by kind courtesy of members of the Midlands Community. This proved to be a great opportunity to get to know each other and, as it happened on the day, the surprise for some of meeting long lost friends.
Fr Prasad encouraged members of the Midland Catholic Community to attend any one of three Sinhalese Masses held monthly in different parts of London and plans are afoot in this respect.
In London, Sinhalese Masses take place on the 2nd, 3rd and last Sunday of every month in Hounslow, Woolwich and Willesden Green respectively .
The next Mass in the Midlands to cater to the diverse groups of Catholics living in the area, allowing for all to appreciate the Word of God in all its glory is planned for December. We will inform you once a date has been agreed.