ST BENEDICTíS COLLEGE Ė KOTAHENA
St Benedictís College, the
oldest Catholic institution in Colombo was founded in 1865, at that time
the three main educational institutions in Sri Lanka were situated in
Kotahena, Colombo Academy (later Royal College) in Wolfendaal, St
Thomasís College in Aluthmawatte Road (Gal Palliya), although in later
years Royal moved to Reid Avenue and St Thomasís to Mount Lavania, St
Benedictís still remains in its original location.
St Benedictís College managed by
the La Sallians Brothers the leading teaching order in the Catholic
Church, has an outstanding record, having produced some of the finest
gentlemen of this country.
Today when there is a spirit of
National resurgence and religious amity, we cannot forget the contribution
made by St Benedictís through its distinguished alumni, the Anagarike
Dharmapala the foremost National Hero of Sri Lanka, the Most Venerable
Narada Nayake Thero considered one of the greatest Buddhist scholars and
the Most Ven Soma Maha Thero the author of over 30 books on Buddhism and
recognized as one responsible for the spread of Buddhism in Europe , are
the pride of all Sri Lankan Buddhists and to be products of a Catholic
institution is testimony to the equality and religious harmony that exists
in this great institution.
CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE
The history of Catholic education
in Colombo is the history of St Benedictís, being
the only Institution available to Catholic students from its inception in
1865 St Benedictís had
contributed in many ways towards the formation of all other Catholic
institutions in and around Colombo, Institutions like St Josephís
Maradana, St Sebastianís Moratuwa, De Mazenod Kandana and St Peterís
Bambalapitiya(whose founder incidentally was a Benedictine Rev Fr Nicholas
Perera). These institutions have since made great strides and produced
many great personalities.
It is impossible in the space of
an article such as this to enumerate all the notable achievements of
Benedictines, which significantly include a number of Ďfirstsí in
every field. This limited resume however, will be sufficiently indicative
of the vast contribution made to many by the products of this institution.
Beginning with the Catholic
Church, St Benedictís produced the first Sri Lankan Catholic Bishop in
Dr Bede Beckmeyer, the first Indian Catholic Bishop in Dr Tibutius Roche
and the first Tamil Bishop in Dr Emilanius Pillai. Fr Peter Pillai who was considered the most learned man in the
British empire at one time and his record of academic achievement has
never been equaled, he was also one of the most distinguished rectors of
St Josephís College Maradana.
Mention should also be made of
some of the other eminent Benedictines in their chosen professions namely
Dr Cyril Fernando, the leading physician of his day, Prof
Kandiah the first Ceylonese to obtain the D Sc, Mr
C M Fernando the countryís first Crown Counsel, Dr
A W Joachim the greatest soil chemist produced by this country who rose to
be the first Ceylonese Director of Agriculture, Prof P B Fernando the first Professor of Medicine of the
University of Ceylon , Mr P
Navaratnerajah Queens Counsel, Professors
Mylvaganam, Chapman, Kingsley
De Silva among others, who are all products of this great institution. .
This great tradition is continued to this day with many leading
professionals like Orthopedic surgeon Dr Rienzie Peiris, Mr A N S
Kulasinghe the countryís leading Engineer and many others.
Not only in the fields of Science,
Law and Commerce but in every sphere Benedictines have rendered a rich
tradition of service to the country.
In the film and music industry St
Benedictís have a record unparalleled by any school.
In the film industry personalities such as Vijaya
Kumaranatunga, Ravindra Randeniya and Robin Fernando are household names
and are considered as kings of this industry, in the music industry Sunil
Shantha is considered a legend, in addition some of the greatest names in
popular music such as Denzil & Bosco, The Jay Brothers, the
Dharmaratne Brothers, The Spit Fires, The Savages, the Jet Liners, Mirage
to name a few, were all bands that ruled the scene in the 60ís and
there were Editors like Quintus Delikan, Felix Gunawardena, Clarence
Fernando and of course the popular E C B Wijesinghe, and to this day the
likes of Lasantha Wickremetunga the winner of many awards for fearless
the many Benedictines who have shone in Diplomatic service is
Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala a distinguished diplomat who presently holds
the highest position ever by a Sri Lankan in the United Nations as under
Secretary General, he was recently awarded an international peace award
for his contribution to disarmament.
In the field of sports, St
Benedictís has an enviable record unsurpassed by any school in the
country, having produced champion teams for Cricket, Basketball, Hockey,
Cadetting, Gymnastics and athletics, in soccer St Benedictís has a
fabulous record and have been almost invincible in the post World War 11
period, a famous Benedictine footballer V A Sugathadasa became the
Countryís first Minister of Sports, whilst
J J Sarangapany is acknowledged as the countryís foremost administrator,
Albert Fernando was the first Sri Lankan to qualify as a coach in Brazil
St Benedictís has during the
years produced many Political leaders, this
trend continues todate with the Minister of Labour Mahinda Samarasinghe
and Minister of Public Utilities Mohammed Maharoof who
are both considered very powerful Ministers in the present Government.
St Benedictís College has during its long history been a quiet and humble Institution that has during the years produced some of the finest gentlemen of this Country, many have adorned positions of high office both here and overseas with humility, equality and fairplay, qualities that have been instilled in them through this institution, always keeping in mind the message conveyed in one verse of the College anthem:
TISSERA. Ė JP
GENERAL SECRETARY OBU, ST BENEDICTíS 1991/92
PRESIDENT, SOUTH ASIAN FEDERATION OF NGOs (SAFNGO)
DISTRICT GOVERNOR, LIONS CLUBS INTERNATIONAL 1991/92.
PRESIDENT, SRI LANKA FEDERATION OF NGOs AGAINST DRUG ABUSE