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Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Post-war Sri Lanka Book Launching

A new book entitled Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Post-war Sri Lanka: through the Healing of Memories and the Role of the Catholic Church was launched in Colombo on June 2, 2018. Fr. J.M. Joseph Jeyaseelan, CMF (Claretian Missionaries), an MPI alumnus from 2018, is the author of the book. Gracing the occasion as chief guest was His Excellency Most. Rev. Dr. Pierre Nguyen Van Tot, Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka. Honorable Mano Ganesan, Minister of National Coexistence, Dialogue and Official Languages; Very Rev. Fr. Dilan Fernando, SSS, the President of the Conference of the Major Religious Superiors in Sri Lanka; family members; and friends of Fr. Jeyaseelan; members of the Claretian family in Sri Lanka; and representatives from religious, non-governmental and civil society organizations also attended. The book was introduced by Dr. Jehan Perera, Executive Director of the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka and reviewed by Prof. Shirley Wijesinghe of the University of Kelaniya. A message sent to the author by Rt. Rev. Dr. Winston Fernando, SSS, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka was read out during the launching event.

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Becoming a Catalyst for Peace Activism

I distinctly remember how on the 6th of May, 2018, I had landed in Davao City in Mindanao, Philippines, and was anxious about finding my route to the venue for the Annual Peacebuilding Training of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc. (MPI). MPI had sent a volunteer and a driver to pick up a participant from Sri Lanka and me from the airport. With a beaming smile, they welcomed us, and within a few minutes, they started sharing many things from snacks to jokes and put us at ease. MPI knows more than a thing or two about making utter strangers turn into friends in a very short span of time. Dazed by travel exhaustion, I hoped that my next three-week experience at MPI would be one of such warmth. 

Padmakumar M M (PK) giving a testimonial during MPI's 2018 Annual Peacebuilding TrainingLittle did I know then that the MPI Annual Peacebuilding Training would turn out to be one of the best experiences I have had in my life! Looking back, I know that it was intensely enriching for many reasons. It was truly an immersion in global citizenship. I gained invaluable international, intercultural and even intersubjective experience; got wholesome food for the soul; picked up skills to handle conflicts and build peace; and overall, felt humbled as a learner and expanded as a human.

My sense of the world’s geography, histories, cultures, conflict contexts, and peace approaches grew immensely in those three short weeks at MPI. I had soul-stirring interactions with participants from Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Afghanistan, Fiji, Bangladesh, Switzerland, Bougainville, Germany, Pakistan, Laos, Kenya, Vietnam, Japan, etc. I’m sure many of those who attended with me would have similar accounts to highlight. Such exchanges inform us how beautiful and necessary cultural sharing is. And what do I tell about my Filipino friends! They were so adorably warm and friendly! I learned a lot in their company.

Keep Spreading Peace through Trauma Healing

Debbie Satentes-DasangParticipating in the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation in Divided Communities course, as part of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc.’s Annual Peacebuilding Training in 2015, was a great experience for Debbie Satentes-Dasang, a Guidance and Counseling Director at Southern Christian College (SCC), Midsayap, Mindanao. The topic that influenced Debbie the most was “Prejudice Bias on Social Dimensions of Education.” She learned how to become a tolerant person in different contexts.

Dimensions of education are actually part of the curriculum in SCC, an institution where Debbie also lectures. The trauma healing course enhanced her knowledge and contributed greatly to her performance as an academician, counselor and postgraduate student. During the time she was with MPI, she was also fulfilling her last academic requirements in her graduate studies prior to her thesis writing. As such, she was able to use the course material—methodology, concept, and strategies—as reference sources for her lectures and her thesis.

As a counselor, she firmly upholds the principles of neutrality and impartiality. Finding the best solution without offending any parties is an important value in her work. Many students rely on her trustworthiness and advice. Debbie prioritizes her time so she can be a good listener during their emotional sharing even if it disrupts her schedule. Feeling discriminated against in society and family issues that interfere with academic performance are the frequent problems of students with whom she deals every day. Every time the students thank her and express relief, she feels contented and satisfied. Helping students to regain their confidence and passion to finish their studies is a meaningful achievement in her life.

Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Post-War Sri Lanka by Fr. J. M. Joseph Jeyaseelan, CMF

The Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc. is please to share with you that Claretian Publications is publishing a new book by MPI Alumnus Fr. J. M. Joseph Jeyaseelan, CMF (2018) titled: Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Post-War Sri Lanka: through the Healing of Memories and the Role of the Catholic Church.

The Claretian Missionaries in Sri Lanka are organizing a book launching for Saturday, June 2, 2018.

About the Book

This book explores the role of the healing of memories for post-war reconciliation in Sri Lanka. In the intervening years since the 26-year civil war came to an end in 2009, hardly anything substantial has been done in terms of healing the past wounds and building a new and reconciled Sri Lanka where all her citizens could live with equal dignity and in peace. Moreover, even in the meager post-war reconciliation efforts that are in place, the efficacy and role of the healing of memories have been grossly disregarded. Anyone interested in the role of the healing of memories for post-conflict reconciliation, explored primarily through the lens of practical theology, will find in this book useful insights and recommendations that can be adapted to other contexts as well. Since healing of memories is related closely to psychology, this book has integrated insights from the field of modern psychology, namely cognitive theories. The concept of the Moral Imagination has also been applied to come to certain conclusions and recommendations. This book suggests many ways the Catholic Church can better contribute to the post-war reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka, and initiate certain projects geared toward this end, using the healing of memories as a primary route.

J. M. JOSEPH JEYASEELAN is a Catholic priest and a member of the Congregation of Claretian Missionaries. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Peradeniya; a Bachelor of Theology from the Pontifical Urban University, Rome; and a Doctor of Ministry from Catholic Theological Union at Chicago, USA.

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Young People and their Role in the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Negotiations

Progress Study on Youth Peace and Security - colored hands in a circleMPI alumnus and facilitator Michael (Mike) Frank A. Alar wrote a report on young people's involvement in the Government of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace talks as a country case for the UN's Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security. Along with other country case studies, the report is available for download here.

This report contains the stories of only some of the young unsung heroes of peace in the Philippines.

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