Most Rev. Dr. Malcolm Ranjith: God's chosen Chief Shepherd for Sri
The Patronal feast cum Birthday of His Grace the Archbishop of
Colombo, the Most Rev. Dr. Albert Malcolm Ranjith falls on November 15.
His Patron Saint is St. Albert the Great.
Most Rev. Dr. Malcolm
The world and our Church become so rich and beautiful because of the
variety of persons God has given to lead us. At the peak of his service
to both Church and Nation, Archbishop Malcolm epitomizes rare and rich
qualities of fidelity to his religion.
The Holy Father, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at an audience
conceded to Archbishop Malcolm at the 'Apostolic Palace' almost a year
ago disclosed to him, his desire to consider him to be appointed the
Archbishop of Colombo, motivated by the needs of the local Church and
overwhelming requests made by Sri Lankans all over the world and further
realizing the need to strengthen peace and reconciliation among the
various communities in Sri Lanka.
In consequence, at a decisive moment in the history of Sri Lanka,
Archbishop Malcolm was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the
Metropolitan Archbishop of Colombo on June 16, this year. Later, he was
installed as the 9th Archbishop of Colombo on August 5. Pope Benedict
XVI imparting his Apostolic Blessings on Archbishop Malcolm on the
occasion expressed his sincere thanks to him for the fidelity,
commitment and competence with which he exercised the duties in the
Archbishop Malcolm served as the Secretary of the Holy Father's
powerful Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the
Sacraments located in the precincts of the famed St. Peter's Basilica in
Rome until his appointment to spearhead the Catholic Church in Sri
Archbishop Malcolm's inspiring speech at the Installation Ceremony
started with the words, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit
rejoices in God my Saviour".
These which are the words that sprang from the heart of Mary, our
heavenly Mother at a time when she experienced her special election by
God for the unique mission and Archbishop Malcolm befittingly selected
the same to express his immense sense of gratitude to God.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa
His ability to converse and understand the problems of the Catholic
Church spread throughout the world and his commitment and dedication in
the execution of the enormous responsibilities of the Universal Church
on his shoulders has made him one of the most influential voices in the
Church. He has mastered ten languages - Italian, German, French, Hebrew,
Greek, Latin, Spanish, English, Sinhala and Tamil.
Archbishop Malcolm had his ecclesiastic studies at Pontifical Urban
University and Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome. Later, from the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he obtained a Baccalaureate in Theology,
a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture and a Special Certificate in Biblical
Studies. He has had a fast rise in the church ranks. He was ordained a
Priest at 27 by Pope Paul VI in Rome, appointed a Bishop at 43 by Pope
John Paul II and elevated an Archbishop at 53 by Pope John Paul II.
Known as a tireless servant of truth, justice and freedom, Archbishop
Malcolm has won love, respect and admiration of people as well as
religious leaders all over the world. Archbishop Malcolm by the Grace of
God and favour of the Holy See issued his first Liturgy Circular No. LT
CR/01 on October 7, 2009. It is a circular concerning various religious
movements and services. The priests, religious and the laity of the
Archdiocese promptly commended the Chief Shepherd for his bold and
timely intervention in safeguarding the sacredness of the liturgy in the
First Sri Lankan Bestowed with "Pallium"
The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI bestowed Archbishop Malcolm with
the "Pallium" at a Pontifical Mass held at St. Peter's Basilica in the
Vatican City in June this year. The "Pallium" is a stole worn by
Metropolitan Archbishops as a sign of his mission, to care for the sheep
in imitation of the Good Shepherd, and reminder of his loyalty to the
successor of Peter, the Pope.
First Sri Lankan Secretary of a Congregation
Archbishop Malcolm has been blessed with many firsts in his ministry
of the God Almighty. He is the first Sri Lankan to be appointed
Secretary of a Congregation in the Vatican. It was Pope Benedict XVI who
appointed him in December 2005 to perhaps one of the key Congregations
of the Roman Curia that attends to everything pertaining to the
Apostolic See concerning the regulation and promotion of the sacred
liturgy, primarily of the sacraments, without prejudice to the
competence of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith.
First Sri Lankan Papal Nuncio
Archbishop Malcolm is the first Sri Lankan to be appointed a Papal
Nuncio. He served in Jakarta as the Holy Father's Apostolic Ambassador
to Indonesia and East Timor from April 2004 to December 2005. The
Catholic Church in Indonesia, which consists of 17,000 islands spreads
to 37 Dioceses and has the biggest Catholic population amongst the
countries in Asia. During his tenure as Papal Nuncio he was instrumental
in enhancing mutual relations between the Vatican and Indonesia to
First Sri Lankan Adjunct Secretary
He is also the first Sri Lankan Bishop to be appointed to the Holy
See. In October 2001, he was made the Adjunct Secretary of the
Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples along with the
appointment of the President of the Pontifical Mission Societies by Pope
John Paul II. It is the Holy Father's ministry for the coordination of
the missionary efforts of the Church and involves growth of the local
Churches in mission countries. The Adjunct Secretary is the World
President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, which are the instruments
of the Pope for enhancing support through prayers and contributions for
the mission of the Church.
First Bishop of Ratnapura
Archbishop Malcolm was also the first shepherd to be appointed by the
Holy See to the newly carved Diocese of Ratnapura. His appointment was
hailed as a welcome spark to kindle the fire of missionary zeal in the
hearts of the clergy and laity in the diocese. It was evident from the
unprecedented numbers of well wishers of all religions that thronged to
welcome him. He guided the flock of Ratnapura from November 1995 to
Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo
He started his episcopate as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of
Colombo in 1991. He served as the Vicar General in charge of Parochial
Apostolate and Lay Apostolate from 1991 to 1995.
His peers elected him the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops'
Conference of Sri Lanka as well. He served as the Chairman of the
Organizing Committee for the Beatification of Ven. Joseph Vaz and the
visit of Pope John Paul II to Sri Lanka in January 1995.
Early life and priesthood
Born on November 15, 1947 as the only son of Don William and Mary
Winifreeda and baptised a child of God in Polgahawela, he had his
education at De La Salle College, Mutwal where his priestly vocation
developed and matured. He joined St. Aloysius' Seminary at Borella in
1965 and after 3 months entered the National Seminary at Ampitiya.
During the regency, Bro. Malcolm served SEDEC in the district of
Ratnapura building homes for the needy. Thereafter, he joined the
tutorial staff of St. Thomas' College, Kotte.
He served as Assistant Parish Priest of Pamunugama in 1978 and his
dynamism and enthusiasm certainly shook the sleepy, backward fishing
villages of Kepungoda and Dungalapitiya.
He was instrumental in supplying electricity, building houses and
modernising the area. His missionary odyssey then took him through the
parishes of Payagala and Kalutara where he blazed a trail of total
commitment to uplift the poverty stricken fisher folk and built a
vibrant Christian community.
"Seth Sarana" the Archdiocesan Centre for Poor Relief is his brain
child and remains a lasting monument to his commitment to alleviate the
sufferings of the poor. In 1983, Fr. Malcolm was appointed the National
Director of Pontifical Mission Societies and under his enthusiastic
direction a new and urgent sense of mission was created among the clergy
and the people. He revived the Society of the Holy Childhood to inspire
a spirit of missionary zeal in children.
Archbishop Malcolm is a warm and gentle friend gifted with great
He is a lucid and popular teacher of Holy Scripture; a brilliant
though self-effacing intellectual; a preacher par excellence; a
benefactor of countless projects; a sparkling companion... but above
all, a missionary fired with apostolic zeal to proclaim Christ as the
Redeemer of the World. He is well versed in the teachings of other
religious and has always promoted inter-faith dialogue.
Your Grace, as you take the helm to shepherd and steer the ship of
the Catholic Church, may the good Lord shower His choicest blessings
upon you and grant fair winds and following seas! We wish and pray for
many happy returns of the day and continued service to God and His
people! Happy Birthday! Ad Multos Annos!