By Tim Harfmann
As Sri Lanka remains on alert after the Easter Sunday bombings, Punitha Joseph, a Catholic in Queens, is worried about her family still living there; “They cannot go outside. They are, kind of, locked inside their houses because they are so afraid to go outside.” Joseph, a parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Queens Village, prayed for her loved ones and their protection.
Her sister’s son-in-law runs a school in Sri Lanka. On Sunday, his young students were in one of the terror-targeted churches when the bombs exploded. “Their bodies were scattered — like, body parts they found. They are still trying to identify the bodies, so they don’t know how many of [the students] died,” said Joseph.
Father Patrick Longalong, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, celebrated a special Mass on Monday, April 22nd to memorialize the victims and support their families living there. “My hope is that the Mass would give them some strength and consolation,” said Father Longalong. The Queens priest is concerned that the atrocity on Easter Sunday will lead to more violence; “One of my fears is that this will start a cycle of revenge between the Christian and the Muslim communities, which is why we’re turning to God for strength and clarity and peace.” “You go to church to find peace and rest,” said Joseph; “But if they bomb the churches, where do we go? That is my question.”
Right now, there are no answers for Joseph.