Report of Fr. Gamini about the journey of Peter Bachmann to Sri Lanka in January 2019
Dr. Peter Bachman the Founder of Peter Bachmann Foundation announced his surprising visit to Srilanka in the middle of December 2018. He has not been to Srilanka for the last 11 years as I know. Although I correspond with him through email for the last three years I never had a chance to call him to hear his voice.
The announcement of his visit was a joy and hope for all of us at Peter Bachmann foundation in Chilaw, and to the Jesuit fathers in Sri Lanka who currently runs the Peter Bachmann foundation in Chilaw.On the 3rd of January I was all excited and anxious to receive him at the airport together with Mr. Churchill a long-standing member in the foundation in Chilaw who is also well known to Peter.
Having received him at the airport Churchill and I accompanied him to one of my relations house at Jaela, six kilometers away from the airport. So we stayed at Jaela for two days. He enjoyed the hospitality of the hosted family, Mr. Samson. During his stay there he took the chance of visiting Pitipana where he used to have a place called Hevena. His visit to Pitipana did not give him a sense of joy. I could feel in his explanation to me he was disturbed.
He was also lucky to have hosted for a well-organized lunch with fish and prawns by one of our prominent board members in Kandana. Then on the 5th of January until his departure on the 18th of January, he was hosted by the Province Curia of the Jesuit fathers in Negombo. He was well received by the Jesuit community in Negombo. During his stay in Negombo, Mr. Nicholas Nanayakkara the former managing director of the Center in Chilaw got in touch with Peter and visited some places of interest along with Fr. Joseph Thissera of the Diocese of Kurunegala, with whom Peter had built many houses to the poor in Puttalam district. He also made it a point to meet some of his old friends in various places at different intervals as time permitted and transport available for him.
His visits to the families of Nicholas at Kuliyapitiya and professor Dr. Anthony and Sumana Fernando at Eldeniya seem to made many impressions in the heart of Peter.
His visit to Chilaw , to the Center on the 11th of January, was a special day for him as well as to the children and the staff. On his arrival in Chilaw, he was warmly welcomed by the Bishop of Chilaw and the priests of the Chilaw deanery fathers together with Vicar General of the diocese. On his arrival he was welcomed by the students, staff members and the parents of the students. Then he was accompanied to the school in procession with a band and the students. Then, there was a little celebration organized by the community, students, staff members and parents of the Foundation to felicitate the founder on his visit to Sri Lanka. I am sure it was a very memorable day for Dr. Peter. There was also a well-organized lunch at Aurora hotel in Chilaw to honor the Peter. He took little time to get himself associated with students and the staff by watching some of the activities done by the students under the guidance of the staff. Peter took the opportunity of visiting one of our old students currently working in statue making factory in Negombo. I could notice Peter was emotionally moved and touched by the Way this student has been able to intergrated himself to shape his own future life. I am sure all in all Peter enjoyed his visit to SriLanka. Fr. Dexter, the Provincial, took him to visit the new noviciate sight at Kurunegala. It was a joyful and enjoyable outing.
I believe his visit surely gave him fresh knowledge and new hopes about PBF and many other things. He, Peter certainly enjoyed his stay with Jesuits in Negombo. His presence brought sense humor and joy to the community. He accurely followed the routeen of the Jesuit community, being present at the Eucharist and community meals. Peter enjoyed community days on Wednesdays where all the members of the Jesuit, community come together for a moment of prayer and fellowship meal. Peter was able to enjoyed two such occasions in Negombo.
So the time came to all of us to say good bye to each other giving a break until we meet again soon. So keep cheering until we meet again.
Fr. Gamini Perera SJ