Rome, Italy, Oct 24, 2019 / 10:00 am
As the pastor of a parish in which many families lost a mother, father, or child in a bombing on Easter Sunday, Fr. Jude Raj Fernando has seen how healing from loss can be a long, difficult journey of faith.
Fr. Fernando is the rector of St. Anthony's shrine in Colombo, Sri Lanka -- one of the churches bombed during the Easter attacks by a group affiliated with Islamic State that killed 258 people in April. He spoke of his painful pastoral experience Oct. 24 at an Aid to the Church in Need event in Rome on the ongoing persecution of Christians.
"I had never heard a sound like that. My first words after the blast were 'Father forgive them, they know not what they do,'" Fernando said, beginning to weep as he remembered the parishioners at Mass the day of the bombing.
"There was a young couple married eight months before together at Easter Sunday Mass … and a man who had given an older lady his seat … a pregnant mother who lost her husband." He noted that this woman gave birth to a healthy baby last week and she is now a single mother.