Diamond jubilee celebration of St. Thomas' College, Kotte

THE late Rev. Fr. Z. Dabrera, the founder of St. Thomas' College, Kotte was a Catholic priest par excellence. "You are the light of the world after my demise," said Jesus of Nazareth to His followers.

Light dispels darkness, darkness of ignorance, lack of education, the stumbling block and hindrance to the progress of humanity. Evidently, disorder, commotion and suffering among humans are due to ignorance.

Adhering to the counselling of his master, the founder set up the St. Thomas' College at Kotte to impart knowledge to students in a religious atmosphere. At the outset there were no buildings, no formal staff, no proper equipment, but there was the iron will of the founder.

Obviously, he believed in the adage, "If there is a will, there is a way", and also the saying, "Do your best and God will do the rest."

The new school was set up in the small verandah of the mission house, the founder's residence. Before long, the number of students increased and the two wings of the small church (now demolished) were used as classrooms. Yet the demand for new admission was a cry out for.

However, the courageous founder set in motion a new spacious building (now demolished) on a shoe string budget. Promptly, the members of the staff, students, parents, past students and some parishioners rallied round the Father by providing money, materials and some even working manually.

Observing the rapid progress of the school, the educational authorities raised the school to a grant in aid school under the manager of the Catholic schools.

To meet the ever increasing demand for new admissions, the Government built a new upstair building.

In addition to St. Thomas' College, Rev. Fr. Z. Dabrera had put up schools at Nugegoda today a leading Parish school a Tamil school at Kirillapona the Christ the King school at Pannipitiya and three more schools at Angoda Maharagama and Navinna.

In appreciation of his noble service to the people of the Kotte area in education, social and spiritual progress the members of the Mahajana Sabha (The people's Assembly, Kotte branch) elected Fr. Dabrera the vice-president, an outstanding honour to a Catholic priest in a predominantly Buddhist area.

Having completed his mission successfully, Father left Kotte in 1941, without any eulogy, as he always detested ostentation as an ascetic priest.

Recognizing the rapid progress of the College in academic, sport and other school activities Dr. Howes, the then Director of Education raised the college to a Grade One Educational Institute in 1954. Potently the standard of a school is not judged only by its large buildings.

There are other criteria as well such as good results at public examinations discipline of the students success in sports and athletics co-operation of the members of the staff with the head co-ordination of the past students and parents with the school authorities.

It is evident St. Thomas' College, Kotte that got under way humbly seventy-five years ago is blossoming today with all these constituents and is a beacon of light for some other institutes.

The Diamond Jubilee Celebration of St. Thomas' College Kotte will be held under the distinguished patronage of Rt. Rev. Dr. Oswald Gomis, the Archbishop of Colombo on Saturday July 23, 2005 at the College premises.