Asitha Sriyantha: "Training is key to address the challenges of our mission".

Asitha Sriyantha is a native of Sri Lanka. He is now in Pamplona, completing his theological and philosophical formation. From a Catholic family, she studied in a Buddhist school where she was able to explain to her classmates her desire to surrender to God. 

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His full name is Asitha Sriyantha Lakmal, Kekulu Thotuwage Don. This Sri Lankan seminarian is very clear that his preparation prior to the priesthood is key to the exercise of a fruitful and joyful ministry. 

What was your path to the seminary?

-Since my childhood I have had the desire to become a priest. I come from a devout Catholic family, with parents who actively participate in parish activities. Thanks to them, I grew in faith and in my relationship with God. I studied elementary school in the school next to the parish church. It was normal for me to serve at the morning mass.

In high school, I attended a Buddhist school. Many times, when teachers asked us about our ambition, my only answer was: "I want to be a priest." My teachers and friends did not understand. Later, when I explained it to them, they understood my desire a little better and even encouraged me.

At the age of sixteen I entered the minor seminary of St. Aloysius in Colombo. After three years of formation in the minor seminary, I entered the propaedeutic seminary. I did three years of philosophical studies at Our Lady of Lanka National Seminary, Kandy and now I am able to study Theology in Pamplona thanks to CARF Foundation. 

How did your family experience the announcement of your vocation?

-At first, my father was not very happy that I entered the seminary, because I am the only son. Now he is proud to have a son preparing to become a priest. My mother is a very devout Catholic, from whom I always learn to pray, and my only sister is always there for whatever is needed. My grandmother lives with us in our home and I admire the simple faith she has. My relatives and friends are happy because I am the first one to become a priest. I hope and pray that some of my relatives will choose this wonderful path of life, to become a priest. 

What does the Church in Asia bring to the world?

-Asia is incredibly diverse, with numerous ethnicities, languages and cultural practices. 

The Church in Asia contributes to the rich tapestry of Christianity in various ways, reflecting the diverse cultures, traditions, religions and histories of the continent. Indeed, the Church in Asia often embraces and integrates this diversity, fostering a sense of unity in the midst of differences. Asia is home to several major religions, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and others. 

The Church in Asia participates in interreligious dialogue, promoting mutual understanding and cooperation among people of different religions, contributing to peace. In many Asian countries Christians carry out their mission in peace and freedom, but in others there are situations of violence and persecution. 

Now that you live with young people from other cultures, how has your perspective on the Church changed?

-More than changing, it is expanding. In Sri Lanka, we experienced the local Church. But at Bidasoa International College, where I live in Pamplona, the universality of the Catholic Church is palpable. We may be different with our cultures and languages, but we are one in our faith.

God willing, we will be ordained priests and we will be serving in different parts of the world, but our life is one and we serve one Master. Our thoughts and ideas may differ, but we work together and walk together towards one goal. 

What are the challenges for a young priest today?

-I am not yet a priest, but I believe that every priest must fulfill his mission in the face of the thinking of the modern world. Many societies are becoming more and more secular. It is a challenge for priests to engage and attract the interest of the younger generation. There are problems similar to those of previous generations and others that are more specific to the present.

Formation is very important to find innovative ways to address these challenges and to serve actively in the divine mission. If we build on faith in ourselves, we will never bear the fruit that God wants, but if we seek God's grace and guidance, maintaining a close relationship with Him, life will be fruitful and there will be abundant fruit.

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