ST BENEDICTíS COLLEGE Ė KOTAHENA

     

ORIGIN 

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. 

EQUALITY 

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. 

FOREMOST 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. 

ACHIEVEMENTS OF  BENEDICTINES 

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 70ís. 

Of  Journalists 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 journalism. 

Of  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 and Germany. 

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. 

CONCLUSION 

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:

 
ĒTrue to our God and true to all man,
  Follow we ever life's holy plan !
  Doing the duty that is to do,
  Bearing the cross with the crown in view
Ē

 
The information produced above is by no means comprehensive and the writer humbly apologizes to all those great Benedictines who have in the past and even at present hold high office for non inclusion in this brief article. 

SHIRLEY 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