SRI LANKA EMBASSY TOGETHER WITH SRI LANKAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY HONOUR THE MEMORY OF THE VICTIMS OF CONNECTICUT SCHOOL TRAGEDY IN US

December 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm

December 19, 2012, Washington: Sri Lanka Embassy on Friday (December 14) dedicated its annual Christmas Day Celebration to a prayer service in honoring the memory of the victims of the tragic shooting incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya with the Embassy staff decided to forego the festivities of the evening due to the mass shooting incident, which resulted in the deaths of 20 elementary school children and 7 adults.

“It is a very sad day for the United States and all peace loving people in the world. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the tragedy in Newtown, and in this time of mourning we have decided to convert this event to a prayer session”, Ambassador Wickramasuriya informed the Sri Lankan Americans and US nationals gathered at the Embassy.

Ambassador further expressed his empathy and sympathy with the families of the victims as Sri Lanka knows only too well the pain of their tragic losses.

“We had experienced many tragedies, losses of life of innocent children due to terrorism for about 30 years. Those days we were not sure whether our children would return home safely after school. Under the visionary leadership of our President, His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, that dreadful era came to an end in Sri Lanka . We know the pain, especially when it comes to children”, he added.

The event was organized in keeping with the Embassy’s tradition of celebrating with the community, the main festivals of all four major religions practiced in Sri Lanka.

Reverend Father Percival D’ Silva, Parish Priest of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Chevy Chase delivered the sermon and offered prayers.

The Reverend Father expressed his admiration for the Ambassador for his act of converting the celebrations to a prayer session, as a measure of support and solidarity with the people who lost their loved ones in the terrible carnage in their community.

“I don’t think God would want us to celebrate , he would want us to show our support for these children, their parents…to show this kind of solidarity in their moment of grief”, he said.

During his discourse, he urged the audience to reflect on how society is distancing itself from moral obligations and allowing evil to happen. He blessed the gathering, the people of the United States and Sri Lanka and prayed for an end to the needless violence and evil, which plague the world and the human mind.

A traditional Sri Lankan dinner was served for those who attended. You can listen to the full discourse of Reverend Father Percival D’Silva in the video

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday (Dec 15) sent condolences to US President Barack Obama conveying his heartfelt sympathies over the tragedy.

Read the Message of Condolences from His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa

Captions:
01. Ambassador Wickramasuriya and Reverend Father Percival D’ Silva at the Christmas Prayers organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington, December 12.

02. Minister (Commercial) Mr. Bandula Somasiri, introducing the proceedings of the event .Ambassador Wickramasuriya and Mrs. Wickramasuriya are also in the photograph.

03. H.E. Mr. Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka Ambassador to the US addressing the gathering

04. Reverend Father Percival D’ Silva delivering the sermons at the Christmas Prayers organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington DC

05. Ambassador Wickramasuriya with U.S. Sri Lankan community members at the Christmas Prayers organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington DC

06. Defence, Military, Naval & Air Attaché Brigadier Dudley Weeraman, Minister (Consular) Mr. K.D. Ranjith with the U.S. Sri Lankan community members

07. Section of the audience attended for the Christmas Prayers organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington DC

08. Section of the audience attended for the Christmas Prayers organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington DC