St. Josephs' College, Colombo


106 years of excellence

by Supun Perera - Daily News, Sat Mar 2, 2002

On the second of March 2002; St. Joseph's College will embark on another milestone where it will celebrate its 106th year in existence. Joy fills our hearts as we recall our days at St. Joseph's; for many in the Josephian fraternity; It is the "Second Home". It has no doubt been a long and ardour's grind to get to the exalted position which the college holds today in that; it is a leading and prestigious learning centre in the island.

Going down the history lane of 106 years of existence: St. Joseph's will certainly remember one of its great sons the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa. Many times he has made public references value training, character formation and the integral education he has imbibed during his student days at St. Joseph's. Once during a visit he remarked, "Let us learn from this great institution the Fruit of Virtue".

That prevails between Buddhists, Catholics, Hindus, Muslims, Tamils and Burghers since small spottings have helped us to take giant strides in the arena of national and international politics.

The architect of this hallowed 'Institution' had been the most Rev. Dr. Christopher Bonjean the first Archbishop of Colombo. He was a man of vision of lofty ideals and a great educationist above all; he was a true servant of God, a man of prayer who believed with the psalmist that "unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain who built it".

On the day of 2nd of March 1896; the College was started with just 211 students in the collegiate section and 96 in the preparatory school has grown in its students. Eternally growing in its perpetual springtime college is now completed with more sophisticated computer science laboratories and a much needed sports complex cum auditorium.

It was the very first Rector Rev. Fr. Charles Collin (1896-1910) who was fearless and farsighted; breathed in to college an everlasting spirit, while the knowledge and virtue has been bestowed on it by the second Rector Rev. Fr. Lytton (1910-1912). Then Rev. Fr. Nicola (1912-1919) who combined the work of his two predecessors. It was Fr. Maurice J. Legoc (1919-1941) who succeeded as fourth Rector of St. Joseph's. An erudite scholar, a scientist, an astronomer and last of the French Rectors to lead the destinies of our beloved Alma Mater.

he did so much for the college that there lies an indebtedness to him, which may never be fulfilled. The fifth Rector was Rev. Fr. Peter Pillai (1941-1961) who was incidentally the first Sri Lankan to be honoured so.

In the very first prize giving of the college which was held on 28th of November 1896 the chief guest had been Sir West Ridgeway, the then Governor of Ceylon. In address it specified "I'm here to congratulate you not only on the possession of the splendid buildings but also on the triumphs".

By looking back on the century of price giving held since; Josephians both past and present will agree that these predictions have gone beyond reality. Sir Nicolas Artygalle, the Vice-Chancellor at the annual price giving in the diamond jubilee year of the college said, "when I come to a school like St. Joseph's I do not need to comment on its achievements in the academic, cultural or athletic spheres. Indeed; it will be an impertinence for me to do so.

Schools like St. Joseph's do not live by the figures of passes and failures at examinations, successes in the field of sports or the high honours gained by its old boys. Such things are taken for granted".

It is also evident that the position of St. Joseph's has occupied among the leading schools of our country did not just happen.

It is the supreme result of the devoted prayer, self-sacrificing labour and unending affection and true abundant love. Thanks be to Almighty God for all the blessings showered on our dear school.

There is no doubt that the unseen hand that guided it from the day of its inception will continue to lead it to "fresh fields and pastures new".

It is good to remind that it is the bounden duty of every present and future Josephians to always keep alight the lamps of virtue, knowledge and the true Josephian spirit alive, so that 106 years hence and then forever, every Josephian could hold his head high and be proud of his Alma Mater for what it has bestowed on them and still more of what they have done for it.

"In Scientia of Virtue"