A group of Sri Lankan families in Auckland has been keeping their Catholic culture alive by coming together once a month for the last 15 years to recite the rosary, pray the Divine Mercy chaplet and attend Mass. 

The Christ to the World prayer group recently celebrated the Marian month of May by decorating the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary with flowers and blue candles and fairy lights.

Christ to the World member Marietta Gomes explained that Sri Lankans in Auckland practise the Mary devotions by having a little girl put a crown on the image while the rest sing a special song to Mother Mary in Sinhalese, their native language.

“Even though it’s little, it’s something unique in the month of May,” said Mrs Gomes. “We pray and we show very special honour to Mama Mary.”

Mrs Gomes said the group had been meeting eleven months of every year for the last 15 years. There are about 60 members, including children.

Each month, the meeting is held in a different member’s home. The last one was held in the house of Rodney Fernando.

“The members look forward to having the Mass in their house that we are booked for the next year,” Mrs Gomes said. “It’s like the olden day Church when people would gather in
houses to pray.”

She said they miss certain Catholic practices they have in Sri Lanka and wanted to introduce those practices here.

“What we practise in Sri Lanka, we want to see in New Zealand. We want to do something extra to the Sunday Mass. That is the real idea,” Mrs Gomes said.

During the last Lenten season, they were able to pray a Holy Hour in Sinhalese at St Therese Catholic Church in Three Kings. Parish priest Fr Arulsamy Arokiam, OFM, is their spiritual
director.

Mrs Gomes said they practise their faith flavoured with their culture so that people know they have each other and are not alone.

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