Perpetual Help Sri Lanka

Perpetual Help Sri Lanka
The Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Congregation

The Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Congregation website of Sri Lanka

 

Message from the Superior General of the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

 Superior General  Sr.Malathi Dassanayaka

Superior General Sr.Malathi Dassanayaka

Today  is a day of great blessings   for the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Sri Lanka.  As we celebrate our Patronal  Feast  on the  27th of June 2014,  we also launch our web site www.perpetuahelplk.org through the intercession  of this Mother of Perpetual Help. It is very significant  that this year the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus has fallen on this same day. Our foundress Johanna Maximiliana Amerlinck  had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart as her  foundation for a group of 12 women followers was  started on the feast of the Sacred Heart in the year 1768.

   “And my dear sisters never forget the day on which this foundation  was started, namely on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus..

We warmly welcome you to our  website. We are part of the global religious family. Now we are able to communicate with you quickly. We will make known our Congregational history, our way of life, ministries and facts about the Congregation.

We are happy to share with you our work at local level in Sri Lanka and our missionary activities with migrants in Cyprus and Israel. Our website offers you an opportunity to keep in touch with up coming events.

We invite you to browse this site often and to discover the meaning of the great devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Be free to make your prayer requests, comments and suggestions to support us in our ministries or even to join us as fellow workers in the vineyard of the Lord.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Feast of our Lady of Perpetual help  27th of June seek her help….

Our  Lady of Perpetual  Help

Who doesn’t need help?

Do we not have concerns and  struggles that we know we cannot handle by our-selves?  In today’s rat-race, roller-coaster, topsy-turvy world  we are often left helpless and dazed.  How many of us have spent sleepless nightsand woken up in the morning fretting about one thing or another?  Have we not felt the need to off-load our burdens, to experience comfort and consolation?  Do we not all desire peace of mind and heart inspite of the stresses and strains of life?

It is very evident in acts of sincere sharing among people today  when they express that they  often feel  locked behind bars and crushed by the outside world. Being strong does not mean that one can handle every difficult situation. When fighting life’s battles the idea is never to give up. We are not alone at such times. There are people in our lives who tell us they will always be there for us. How few of them truly mean it, as you see for yourself, when you are put in a situation and you call for help or are in need of them.

However, there is Someone  who is glad to help us out and has the ability to do so.  In our Catholic vision of life and faith, we turn to God as the “Almighty,” “All-powerful One”  who reaches out to us with a love that is unbelievably “extravagant.” This God who is  always reaching out to help mankind does so, marvelously,  through the life, death and resurrection of his own Son, Jesus.   God’s only Son was born of a Virgin Mother called Mary, in total accord with God’s plan of salvation for all mankind. Why is this plan so important for us? Scriptures tell us that : “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”(John 3.16).  It is God’s only salvific plan for you and me and it includes a woman, a mother called, “Mary.” To cap it all, Jesus himself at the high-point of his ministry, which was his incredible sacrifice on the cross of suffering, offered us his own Mother as our Mother. He knew  the value and care of his mother and offers her to us in his dying moments, as a farewell gift. Was he pointing out his own Mother as THE  solace in times of pain and struggle? Pope Francis speaks  in Evangelii Gaudium of Mother Mary as  “Jesus’ gift to his people.” He further adds: “ Jesus left us his mother to be our mother… he brought us to her because he did not want us to journey without a mother” no.285.

Mother Mary is honoured and venerated under many titles and names. Most of them have a historical origin based on a significant event. Some are on account of apparitions such as at Lourdes, Fatima, Guadaloupe. In all these places Mother Mary appears alone and pleads for more prayer, penance and conversion. In the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help there is a difference. It is, in fact, a representation of the Christian mystery of Redemption. An icon is in itself a meditation. It elicits faith and prayer.

What is significant about this image is that Mother Mary is not alone. Jesus and the cross are a part of its message. It portrays the Child Jesus running to his Mother for refuge when he has a vision of his future suffering. Two angels hold the instruments of Jesus’ passion : the cross, nails, crown of thorns, spear. To whom can a Son go except to his Mother in such a dire need? Jesus has experienced this Mother’s loving help and care from his birth right up to his death. It is also such a Mother that Jesus offers us when he says, “Behold, your Mother.” Our struggles are when we face our own crosses, big or small. Each time we contemplate this icon we receive comfort and consolation; we receive a Mother’s loving help and care.

The icon,  so popularly venerated,  as “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” has a long history, surrounded by extraordinary events.. If we may state this history in brief, it is a Byzantine icon that tradition says was stolen from the isle of Crete by a merchant sailing to Rome. He survived a storm at sea and reached Rome. There he became seriously ill and sharing his “stolen” secret with a friend who cared for him, requested that it be placed in a church. But after his death, this friend and his family did not part with the icon. When this person also died the Blessed Virgin appeared to their six year old daughter and told the family to place the picture of Holy Mary of Perpetual Help  in the church of St. Matthew, located between the basilicas of Mary Major and John  Lateran.. Tradition relates  how, after many difficulties, the icon was placed at St. Matthew’s in 1499. It was venerated here for 300 years, as “Our Mother of Perpetual Help,” with the devotion spreading fast.  When war raged in Rome in 1798 and the church, now under the Augustinian Fathers, was destroyed, the picture was hidden in the oratory of a nearby church, in Posterula. It would have remained all but forgotten but for Bro. Augustine who had been a friar from St. Matthew’s church and knew about the Perpetual Help icon. Years passed with the icon lost almost  into “oblivion.” God’s ways were different. An altar boy called Michael Marchi was friends with Bro. Augustine and remembered being told : “ Make sure you know, my son, that the image of the Virgin of St. Matthew’s, also called ‘Perpetual Help’  is upstairs in the chapel. Don’t ever forget it. It is a miraculous picture.” From that time till Michael Marchi entered the Redemptorist Congregation, he remembers serving mass in the house chapel  of the Augustinian Fathers  in Posterula where the icon hung above the altar. He says, “ there was no devotion to it, no decorations, not even a lamp…. It remained covered with dust and practically abandoned. Many were the times when I served mass there, that I would stare at it with great devotion.”

In 1855, the Redemptorist Fathers bought a house for their Generalate on the same property of the former St. Matthew’s church, between Mary Major and John Lateran Basilicas. A group of young men began their novitiate and Michael Marchi was one of them. On searching for the history of their new property, the Redemptorists  heard of an icon that had been at St. Matthew’s known as the Virgin of St. Matthew, or more correctly as the Virgin of Perpetual Help which had enjoyed “great veneration and fame for its miracles.” Fr. Marchi remembered all that he had heard from Bro. Augustine and knew very well where it could be found. The Superior General of the Redemptorist Fathers  requested the then Pope Pius IX to grant them the icon of “Perpetual Help” to place in their newly built church., now located near the site of the old St. Matthew’s. Tradition says that the Holy Father handed over the icon to the Superior General saying, “Make her known throughout the world.

In many countries the weekly Perpetual Help novena has become a source  and fountain  of spiritual upliftment. Many are those who seek a Mother’s help and equally so are those who have experienced her as a Mother “ready at every moment to help us.” The petitions and thanksgivings offered at the novenas bear testimony to this.

We are a Congregation dedicated under the title : “Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.” Our spirituality is an on-going God-consciousness, lived out like Mother Mary, through a simple way of life, with fortitude, trusting in Divine Providence, responding relevantly to the signs of the times, with compassionate love. She is our exemplar as “ a  missionary disciple,” called to discern God’s will, being ourselves servants or handmaids of the kingdom Jesus came to establish. As communities, we make the weekly novena to our Mother of Perpetual Help, offering also the prayer-requests of others. In many and varied ways we seek to make her name as “Perpetual Help” known and loved  by all. We pray with people and for people in our own convent chapels where this icon is always given a place of honour. Some do come and spend quiet time before the Blessed Sacrament and in the presence of this  Mother.

We ourselves, as Perpetual Help Sisters of Sri Lanka, seek her help in our struggles as a local diocesan Congregation with only a 32 year old history. Our original history in Sri Lanka goes back to 1929 when Belgian missionaries came over and worked in the Ragama Chest Hospital for tuberculosis patients and then established the School for the deaf and blind as well as a Novitiate in 1954. It is in 1982 that we had our first General Chapter and appointed our own Superior General and Council to begin a new journey of life. We still have the school for the deaf/hearing-impaired as our primary apostolate, and offer other services to our past students, such as  farming,  training and sewing centres, counseling and guidance, even marriage “brokering..” Our convents are presently in four dioceses and in Cyprus and Israel,  with our communities engaged in various ministries such as pastoral work, catechesis, teaching in schools, child-care, widows’ group,  etc. We work with lay people as our collaborators  for we believe we are all called to holiness and need to join hands to encourage and accompany one another. As Pope Francis says in Evangelii Gaudium: “We are all in the same boat and headed to the same port” (no. 99). And one of the best ways to attain this goal is the path that says, “To Jesus through Mary.” Through Mary and with Mary we can turn away from the overwhelming attractions and temptations of this world and search for the true riches that will last forever.

We invite you as devotees of Our Lady of Perpetual Help to join us to ignite the world with love, tenderness and compassion, to receive the loving and perpetual help of a Mother who in turn will guide us to become “helpers” to others. With her we can change hopeless situations, like at Cana, into joyful celebratory occasions. At Cana, with her quiet simplicity, she shows us what is true concern and empathy. With her we can also visit the needy, like Mary visited Elizabeth, by getting onto  the streets of life where so many are left desolate and alone. Above all, we can stand with her beside the crosses of pain and suffering, of grief and loss, of helplessness and hopelessness. Our Mother of Perpetual Help will stand with us and stand by them if only we turn to her and seek her help. Her gaze on the icon is turned towards us more than on her frightened Child. That gaze is perpetually there upon us all, whatever be our calling in life, for we are sojourners on the path to holiness. She invites us to face our own crosses and life’s challenges knowing that her motherly hands will lift us up.

We invite you readers and devotees, to contact us if you are interested in our spirituality or our work. We shall be only too happy to take your special  intentions and concerns to her feet in our prayer,  as Sisters specially dedicated to her under this title. In honour of this Mother’s name if you wish to help us in any of our apostolates, or join us as fellow-strugglers to make this world more Godly and spiritual, you are welcome into our family. Let us together seek a Mother’s help to make her Son better known and loved.

Let us  together “do whatever he tells us” to bring hope and joy to the world.

Sent by the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

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Contact details:  The Superior General, Perpetual Help Convent, Periyamulla, Negombo.

Email:  perpetua@slt.lk

Telephone:  031 – 2238343

031 – 2273702

011 -  2873016