.- The marriage of Catholic Sri Lankan cricket star Angelo Mathew and national badminton player Heshani Silva caused joy among the country’s Catholics and gave added prominence to the country’s Catholic minority.
“We are proud of our Catholic sportsmen and their contribution to the nation,” Father Cyril Gamini Fernando, Spokesperson and Episcopal Vicar for the Southern Region of the Archdiocese of Colombo, told CNA.
The wedding took place July 18 at St. Mary’s Church in Bambalapitiya, a suburb of the capital Colombo.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, presided at the solemnization. He imparted blessings on the couple.
Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa served as the attesting witnesses to the couple’s marriage.
Mathew is the second Catholic cricketer to captain the Sri Lankan national team after Duleep Mendes, Fr. Fernando said.
Cricket is an important sport in British Commonwealth countries, with a large fan base that generates billions of dollars in revenue. It originated in England in the 16th century and has some similarities to baseball.
Fr. Sunil De Silva, parish priest of St. Mary’s Church, told CNA that Mathew is an alumnus of St. Joseph’s College. He hails from a “devout practicing Catholic family” in the “strong” Catholic belt of Vattala.
Fr. De Silva said the Sri Lankan Catholic Church is rejoicing in this happy event and wishes the newlywed couple a fruitful family life.
He added that talents and capability are recognized in Sri Lanka in a way that puts aside all religious differences. He said the country is proud of giving opportunities to its people.
He said many of the country’s great sportsmen and politicians had their formation and education in Catholic schools, colleges and institutions where they “excel” in their disciplines and career.
Over 70 percent of the 20.4 million people in Sri Lanka are Buddhists. Christians make up an estimated 8.4 percent of the population.