Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 15 November 2009





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Most Rev. Dr. Malcolm Ranjith: God's chosen Chief Shepherd for Sri Lanka

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 Ranjith

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 Vatican.

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 Lanka.

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.

Greetings from 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.

Liturgy Circular

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 local Church.

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 greater heights.

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 October 2001.

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.

Missionary work

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 personal charisma.

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!



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