A captivating record of virtue and knowledge-gathering | Sunday Observer

A captivating record of virtue and knowledge-gathering

12 March, 2023

I had the privilege of being present on the august occasion of St. Joseph’s College, Colombo 10 celebrating the 125th anniversary of its founding on June 15, 2022, at the Sports Complex cum auditorium of the College.

The carefully planned agenda for the day, combining spirituality with school traditions, was perfectly in accord with the decades-long ethos at St. Joseph’s.

One of the key events of the celebration was the presentation of the official magazine of the College, the ‘Blue and White’ (Volume 72), which records the history of the College from 2013 – 2020, to the Chief Guest of the celebrations, the Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith. This vital College record which incorporates reports on the Quasquicentennial Jubilee celebrations was presented by the Rector of the College Rev. Fr. Ranjith Andradi to the Chief Guest.

The Editor- in- Chief of the magazine was Lynn Ockersz, former Daily News Editor and well-known journalist. Compiling this magazine must have been an unenviable task as combining several dimensions to this historic document would have been possible only for a person of the calibre of Ockersz. The magazine conveys profound insights into the school’s foundational values and on the magazine cover itself, the primary foundational principles of St. Joseph’s College, spirituality and education or knowledge, come out very clearly.

Academic achievements

This is followed by the academic achievements of Josephians during a 10-year period 2013 - 2020. In addition, Josephians of yesteryear who have excelled in numerous fields have been mentioned in this chapter. This is followed by a compendium of jubilarians among the academic staff who have faithfully served the College. It is to the credit of the Editor-in-Chief that these loyal professionals have been recognised in this chapter.

Another interesting chapter comprises historical sketches presented by Neil Wijeyratne, who is a lawyer-cum-journalist, best known for his writing on sports, especially at SJC, and who has a good knowledge of the history of St. Joseph’s College.

This chapter covers many erudite educationalists, priests of different nationalities, who played a very significant role in the formation of SJC, especially in the early years. Their names would be unknown to the current community of Josephians and it is to the credit of the editorial board that some of them have been recognised in this prestigious magazine for their dedication to SJC.

Another interesting chapter is the one titled, ‘Erudition by Eminent Exemplars’, where some senior teachers and mentors and a several distinguished old Josephians have made contributions, conveying their experiences at St. Joseph’s College. This chapter includes an interesting account of the College covering the period 1961 to 1971 under the title, ‘Struggling to Survive”, contributed by Priyasath Dep, a very distinguished old boy, who rose to the high office of Chief Justice of Sri Lanka.

I was most impressed by the next chapter titled ‘Stars in the Making’, where the Primary School students of St. Joseph’s College, its budding talent, are being featured. Their educational pursuits and accomplishments are noteworthy and it was such a joy to read and see, young blood, the future of St. Joseph’s College, together with their teachers, being featured in this chapter. The talent in these youngsters is enormous and it is not surprising that St. Joseph’s College will always stand tall among the educational establishments of Sri Lanka.

Chapter 10 titled ‘Glowing in Mid Field with Zeal and Creed” focuses on the Middle School. This chapter with its captivating heading goes on to describe further the educational and other accomplishments of SJC. Chapter 11 titled ‘Aspirational Youth’, focuses on the older boys at St. Joseph’s College and their values and ambitions. The youth featured in this chapter bring to centre stage youngsters who would in the next 2-3 years leave school and go out into the commercial arena, besides focusing on those who have academic pursuits and other lofty aspirations in mind. These youth would be the fruit of the efforts of the Rector, Rev. Fathers, administration and teaching staff and would bear the College torch in the immediate future.

Chapter 12 titled ‘An Assemblage of Societies and Associations’, which covers a gamut of SJC societies, ranging from spiritual cells to the Interact Club, General Knowledge Club and Aviation Club, to name a few, highlights another facet of education, where personality development, spiritual development and leadership development become prime. Each society/ association has been dealt with in a very incisive way in the magazine.

From its inception St. Joseph’s College has been in the forefront of sports and it is apt that Chapter 13 has been dedicated to sports at SJC. The chapter covers all sports at St. Joseph’s over the relevant years and it gives a sense of pride to the reader to go through these pages which bring nostalgic memories of SJC’s many achievements in sports. Many are those who have represented Sri Lanka in different sports and brought honour to SJC and Sri Lanka.

Chapter 14 titled ‘Building Lives: Inculcating Values ‘, begins with a message from the Rector Rev. Fr. Ranjith Andradi followed by descriptions of many noteworthy events during the 7-year period. This chapter was compiled by Rev. Fr. Samith Nettasinghe and Master Ryan Perera who have untiringly collected information from individuals for each jubilee project. This would not have been an easy task.

The penultimate chapter titled, ‘Our Rector through the Eyes of Students’, is a tribute to the Rector from his students, whom he has nurtured through the years. Their observations on the Rector, clearly show the man he is –profoundly simple, a Good Shepherd, a good friend and a guiding light. These all show nothing but Christ- like values in Rev. Fr. Andradi, the Rector, and I am glad that Editor-in-Chief Lynn Ockersz has brought this chapter out very succinctly and readably.

Educational standards

Chapter 16 presents extracts from Prize Day Reports from 2013-2019, which highlight the educational standards at St. Joseph’s College through the years. This remarkable volume ends with obituaries to many personalities who have served St. Joseph’s faithfully and diligently over the years.

Running through the pages of this monumental work covering a period of seven years in a multiplicity of areas wouldn’t have been an easy task, particularly as this volume was released to coincide with the 125th jubilee year celebrations.

The value of this magazine will only increase each year and several decades down the line Josephians, both young and old, will read it with much pride and nostalgia. I would recommend that all old Josephians get hold of a copy and read it. It makes us all proud as old Josephians.

May St. Joseph’s College, Colombo 10 go from strength to strength and from glory to glory!