Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Combating anti-social networking
Caritas helps those who cannot help themselves
- ucanews.com reporter, Tewatta
- Sri Lanka
- August 31, 2011
With their ability to put users in instant, constant touch with family and friends from all over the world, social networks like Facebook have been a true phenomenon of this century. In Sri Lanka, there are now more than a million Facebook users, 48 percent of them in the 16 to 24 age group.
But the effects are not all beneficial. âI have come across a number of young people who have lost focus because of their obsession with Facebook and other distractions,â said Dilini Gunasekera, a Caritas counselor.
âThey just canât grasp what is taught to them at school and this habit has affected their family relationships. They donât have time to talk to their parents because as soon as they reach home they rush to their rooms to meet friends through Facebook, online chat and SMS.â
Exposure to pornography and inappropriate relationships that startÂ through the internet are also issues that cause widespread concern. Sri Lankan police say they have received more than 1,000 complaints againstÂ Facebook alone.
The worst cases are being investigated by the Serious Crimes Unit.Â Meanwhile, Rohana Palliyaguru, a senior information security consultant, said âwe advise Facebook users to complain directly to the US company if they feel their privacy has been violated.â
âOur agency has received complaints of people hacking into profiles of young girls and changing their status, or taking their pictures and creating fake profiles, then threatening to blackmail them.â
It adds up to a situation where âthe need for counseling and guidance for Catholics is felt very badly today,â according to Malkanthi Fernando, Â psychosocial coordinator of Caritas-Colombo.
Sister Fatima Nayaki of Apostolic Carmel, another member of the counseling team, added that âin other times, children learned from teachers at school and from parents at home. Now they are being exposed to unnecessary things through the internet, they are at a loss. They need guidance and sometimes counseling.â
In response, Caritas has established three centers, in Colombo, Negombo and Gampaha. Although they are open to people of all ages, it is mainly teenagers and young adults who visit them.
Fernando said that, between them, the three centers have around 1,000 clients receiving help. âPeople come to know about the service through Catholic newspapers and local priests,â she said.
Fernando went on to outline Caritas-Colomboâs strategy for expanding the reach of the service. âAs a first step we have started exposing catechism teachers to the sessions,â she said.
âThrough them we can get in touch with more and more youths. We have already conducted a few sessions for the young people and we have plans for more in various places.â
âThis service is great,â said Anne Perera, a client. âBefore this, all we had as Catholics was confession. Now this adds value, as we get psychological guidance here.â