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Sunday, 1 February 2015

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St Benedict's College turns 150

The roots of the origin of St Benedict's College, Colombo 13 takes us far back to 1837 when Sir Robert Wilmot Horton helped Vicar Apostolic of Ceylon with a donation of 50 British pounds for the formation of the first Catholic English School in the island.

In May 1839, the Roman Catholic Seminary, the school that was destined to become St. Benedict's College was opened in Wolfendhal Street by its Patron, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Vincente de Rosario, Bishop of Tamocene and Vicar Apostolic of Colombo.

The Seminary, as the school was then called, was for superior English education.

St. Benedict's College was moved to its present site in 1865 when the Sylvestro- Benedictine monks planned the buildings of the College in the style of an Italian Benedictine Monastery. Rev Sillani, Vicar Apostolic of Colombo was the pioneer behind this effort.

Kennedy Michael  and Rev. Bro. Janaka Fonseka,  Director, St.Benedict's College unveil the sesquicentennial logo  during a press briefing at the Ramada Hotel. 

He called upon the Superior General of the Brothers in Paris to invite Brothers of Italian, Spanish or English origin to take charge of St. Benedicts College which was politely turned down due to lack of Brothers. However, three Brothers - Hidulphus, Ulfin Daniel and Hermelard Leo who were on their way to France from Mangalore landed in Galle and Sillani coaxed them to take charge of the College.

Brother Hidulphus became the Director of the Community of three Brothers and Headmaster of the College.

In 1868, Bro. Modeste Marie, a German La Sallian missionary with considerable teaching experience in Singapore and Pondicheri was recruited as the first Bro. Director of St. Benedict's College. He lifted the standard of education to new heights.

When the school was inspected by the officer administering the Ceylon Government and a team of officials from the Central School Commission, General Hodgson who took a prominent part of the inspection said that "native boys of the third and fourth classes knew, what nine Englishmen out of ten did not know, the distinction between 'shall' and 'will'," which was reported in the 'Examiner' newspaper.

St. Benedict's 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. The College has, over the years, improved her infrastructure to include modern buildings whilst retaining the signature buildings of yore.

The College is headed by Rev. Bro. Janaka Fonseka, FSC (an old boy of this great institution). The College provides education to around 2,500 students with a staff of around 200 qualified and trained teachers and support staff. Students are enrolled from Grade 1 to Grade 13 with the local syllabus in English, Sinhala and Tamil.

The London A/L syllabus is also available for the Advanced Level students in various streams. The College has performed exceptionally well in the recent Grade 5 Scholarship, GCE Ordinary Level and GCE Advanced Level examinations.

The College maintains a high conduct of academic activities alongside sports and other extr-curricular activities. The school is regarded to be one of the best Catholic schools in Sri Lanka and is renowned for its discipline.

The Primary is situated apart from the College section, headed by Rev.Bro.Benedict Bonaventure FSC, enabling the young, budding Benedictines to enjoy a serene environment to carry out their studies, play and socializing. The 60-member strong staff provides education to around 1000 students in fields of academy, sports arts and music.

Over the years, St. Benedict's College has been in the forefront of sport in the island, especially in Hockey, Soccer and Basketball. The school has been pioneers and front-runners of many sporting activities throughout the decades and has produced many national players and coaches and administrators.

The College was the first ever school to introduce Rugby to the School sector in the whole country. The students of St. Benedict's College have the facilities to develop their athletic and sporting skills in Athletics, Football, Rugby, Basketball, Gymnastics, Swimming, Cricket, Hockey and Tennis.

The College has a fully equipped Gymnasium to address the fitness issues of all sportsmen. There's also a fully equipped Sports Hostel to provide accommodation for sportsmen who come to Colombo from far, for sporting events. The College grounds is at Bloemendhal Road, which consists of Cricket pitches and turf, and has the ability to stage Rugby, Football, Hockey and Athletic events.

The College has two Basketball courts, of which one could be used for night games, a gymnasium for gymnastics and acrobatics training and a state-of-the-art swimming pool with seated viewing facilities for over 100 spectators.

The College has produced some of the finest gentlemen of this country, many of whom have adorned positions of high office both here and overseas with humility, equality and fair play, qualities that have been instilled in them through this institution, always keeping in mind the message conveyed in one verse of the College anthem: "True 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"

 

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