The Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel have been present in Sri Lanka since 1959. Their congregation was founded in India in 1868, principally in order to provide young girls with a scholastic education, but at the same time with the intention of placing Christ at the very centre of their lives. The congregation is now widespread in India and Sri Lanka, with around 130 convents in India and 37 in Sri Lanka.
The convent in Karaveddy, in the northern part of Sri Lanka, has been in existence since 1959. At that time the sisters took over a house that had been built some decades earlier by European missionaries. Among other things they also established an orphanage here.
(Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel inspect what was left of their convent in 2009 © Aid to the Church in Need)
During the almost three decades of the bloody civil war in the country, from 1983 to 2009, the sisters suffered along with so many others among the population, who personally bore the scars of the constant flare-ups in violence between the Tamil rebels and Sri Lankan government forces. Eventually, they were forced to flee their convent for some years and when they were finally able to return, in 2009, they found that the original building had been completely ruined by rain and leaking water. What was left of the building had to be demolished, and the sisters had to find a temporary home in a rented house, where they are still living to this day. However, they immediately resumed their apostolic activities, giving catechetical instruction, leading prayer groups, preparing children for their first Holy Communion and above all working with the poorest of the children and those still suffering from the war. All this they manage in makeshift conditions in their present temporary housing. But space is very limited.
Little by little, the people who were driven out by the war are now returning to their home towns and villages, and the number of those in need is growing as a result. The sisters would love to be able to help still more children, above all the girls who have suffered in the war, but given their cramped conditions they cannot do so. So there is an urgent need to rebuild their convent. Clearly, however, they cannot expect financial help from the local people who themselves are desperately poor. And so they have turned in confidence to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) writing: “We hope and pray that the Lord may inspire still more people to help us to finish this urgently needed building.” ACN has promised to help with a grant of $27,000 to assist this project.
The vital work of Catholic charities like Aid to the Church In Need provide a lifeline to the Church wherever she is poor, persecuted or threatened. Please help our work by donating online or send your donation to Aid to the Church in Need, PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. Ph: (02) 9679-1929