[APPRECIATIONS - (04-06-2018)] | Daily News

[APPRECIATIONS - (04-06-2018)]

Rev. Bro. Raymond Benildus FSC

Strict disciplinarian

Rev. Bro. Raymond Benildus FSC entered eternal glory to be with his maker on April 13, 2004. He was the former Director (1964 - 1973) of St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa, which is my alma mater.

Rev. Bro. Benildus had served at all prestigious La Sallian institutions and organisations island-wide, such as De La Salle College, Mutwal; St. Xavier’s College, Mennen; De Mazenod College, Kandana; St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa and St. Benedict’s College, Kotahena. He had served at St. Sebastian’s College and St Benedict’s College on more than one occasion.

When Rev. Bro. Modestus was transferred to St. Benedict’s, Rev. Bro. Benildus was appointed as the its Director. He introduced a number of fundraising projects and also set up a welfare office to collect funds directly from parents.

Rev. Bro. Benildus was one of the greatest administrators St. Sebastian’s College ever had. During his service period, parents were requested to pay reasonable admission fees and monthly donations. He managed the income-generating projects, especially the college farm, to find the additional funds required to run the college. The new building was extended to accommodate the sports pavilion.

The religious atmosphere in the school was excellent. Being a scholar in oriental languages, Rev. Bro. Benildus was keen on improving oriental studies, in keeping with the national culture of Sri Lanka. During his era, St. Sebastian’s produced Duleep Mendis who at16, captained the St. Sebastian’s College First Eleven cricket team, scored 1,000 runs in the cricket season and also captained the Sri Lanka Test cricket team. The last time the college won the Big Match was in 1966, during Rev. Bro. Benildus’ period. Harindra Fernando who in 1971, was placed fourth in the island at the G. C. E. (A. L.) examination, won the UNESCO Gold Medal for the best engineering student of Sri Lanka in 1978 and was in the profession of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Arizona State University, USA.

My memory moves back to the then nursery class at St. Sebastian’s College, where I started studies in the year 1965 and continued until I sat for the G. C. E. (O. L.) Examination in 1975. I feel that it was God’s special blessing to have let me study at the college under strict disciplinarian Rev. Bro. Benildus. He helped many a parent in admitting students to the school. He was strict as well as sympathetic towards his students. Rev. Bro. Benildus was popular among both present and past pupils. His loyalty to Jesus Christ and founder St. De La Salle was Immeasurable. His was a legacy of service, fraternity, cordiality and commitment.

Although Rev. Bro. Benildus is no more, he is immortal in the hearts and minds of thousands who associated with him. Certainly, the La Sallian congregation lost an invaluable son.

Prabath Perera


Prof. Chandra L. Jayasuriya

She was a matriarch

The ones that love us never really leave us. They can always be found in our hearts.

A fact of life we often tend to forget when growing up, is that the people we love are also growing older.

The sad reality of this dawned on me on May 2, this year, when at the age of 79, my grandmother Professor Chandra Jayasuriya, passed away.

My grandmother was a constant presence in my life from my formative years and try as I may, this is but a vain attempt to do justice in a few words for what she meant to me.

A product of Southlands College, Galle and Visakha Vidyalaya, Colombo, achchi was both hardworking and smart, an ideal recipe for success. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Peradeniya University and went on to do her post-graduate studies in Statistics at the University of South Carolina, USA.

Upon returning to the island, she initially lectured at the Peradeniya University, before moving to the Colombo University Education Faculty. She lectured there for over 30 years, rising to the level of a Professor and later, was appointed the Dean of the Faculty. She was a knowledgeable teacher and an inspiration to her students. Achchi had a keenness for acquiring knowledge; a quality she inculcated in her two daughters whom she brought up to be educated women.

Apart from her career, achchi’s interests were varied. She was a voracious reader, even going on to pen a few books of her own. She also loved to sew and I have many fond memories of her painstakingly adjusting my clothes so they would fit the way I wanted. Being the versatile person she was, she also prepared delicious meals for us on a regular basis.

Achchi, as the eldest in a large family, was a respected matriarch; a role she thrived in, offering words of advice or support in any way she could, when needed. She was a compassionate person and her magnanimity often extended to the less-fortunate. The door of achchi’s home was always open to her friends and relations, to walk in and chat, whilst enjoying her hospitality. She was forthright in what she said and did, yet never caused offence.

She was a doting grandmother to both me and my cousin brother, forever looking out for us, understanding, supportive of our dreams and encouraging us to work hard. She would not only celebrate our achievements, but also spur us on when we fell short.

Her love for me was evident in what she did for me; be it buying me gifts for no apparent reason, never forgetting to send me a birthday card or once keeping vigil by my hospital bed when I was sick.

She was in many ways, the heart and soul of our family and we are all poorer without her. I feel blessed to have had so many opportunities to talk to achchi during the last few months, but there are still things I wish I would have had the chance to say. She was one of my biggest role models and I hope that I grow up to be a woman half as successful and kind as she was.

We love you, achchi. You will forever be missed.

Marlene de Silva


Sunil Karunanayake

A faithful friend

The evergreen, erstwhile crusader of Thurstan College is no more. He was an Accountant by profession, a fellow member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka and a fellow member of the CIMA (UK).

Sunil began his professional career as an Accountant at Chas P. Hayley & Co., Galle and later joined Brooke Bond Ceylon Ltd. and was there for decades.

When Brooke Bond was later acquired by Unilever, Sunil was appointed Unilever Tea Division Commercial Controller, prior to going into retirement.

Hailing from Kamburupitiya in the Matara district, he was the youngest son of a school principal. Sunil was a livewire and in the forefront whenever any event to do with Thurstan was initiated. In fact, no Thurstan event was complete without his presence. During the formative years of the Thurstan College Old Boys’ Union (OBU), he performed a yeomen service as its Treasurer for many years.

Though afflicted with a minor physical disability from a young age, he was undaunted and was also an enthusiastic Tennis player. He was a sportsman at heart and during his heydays, he never missed a cricket or rugby match where Thurstan was involved. A few years ago, we jointly brought a resolution at the OBU, to make a request to the relevant authorities to restore the name Thurstan Road as the name-change made several years ago, was done with no reason or basis when already, there was a school by that name on that road.

Unfortunately, though the most powerful in the land at that time was a Thurstanite, this proposal never saw the light of day. He was a multi-talented person; a freelance journalist (Sports and Financial), author (Business & Corporate Affairs), Editor (ICA’s quarterly publication The Chartered Accountant), radio commentator, moderator at financial forums and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Committee Member, among other pursuits.

My association with Sunil began in 1961, when both of us entered Form IC (now Grade 6) at Thurstan. The class consisted of a blend of students with many diverse attributes, artists, musicians, athletes, bookworms and even street fighters. Challenging and fighting after school was not uncommon. This was to be expected when the class included the brother of late Kumar Devapura. Being the harmless pacifier, Sunil never encouraged or got involved in any of those physical episodes. Once, when I was slapped by our then Science Master E. S. Soysa who later became a lawyer, Sunil was the first to console me.

Whenever something unfortunate happened to a friend, he was the first to help. When our friend and classmate M. B. Fernando met with an accident a few years ago and both his legs were fractured, Sunil made a periodical financial contribution until he got back on his feet.

My relationship with Sunil developed and blossomed into a full-blown friendship through our school, academic and professional careers and it came to a stage where none of my family events were complete without his participation.

He never sought politicians for positions, but in his retired life, provided his services as an independent, non-executive Director/Chairman to many public-quoted companies. We met Sunil last when we were invited for lunch by our friend and colleague Mano Wickremasinghe who had returned from Canada and was hosting us at his refurbished country house in Horana.

Even though Sunil was feeble with a debilitating illness, he made it a point to be there even for a short time. May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

T de S


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