Tribute to a beloved rector | Daily News
Tribute
Rev. Fr. Trevor Gerald Martin

Tribute to a beloved rector

Rev. Fr. Trevor Gerald Martin was appointed to St. Peter’s College five years ago. I knew him at All Saints Church as an Assistant Parish Priest. From there, he was appointed Parish Priest of Koralawella, Moratuwa. He later joined the staff of St. Joseph’s College, where I was the Vice-Rector.

I noticed in him the characteristics of a good administrator as he was looking after the Middle School. He came and asked me how to go about the discipline of the students and I advised him to punish one boy at the beginning of the year; that it would keep the rest of the boys well-disciplined right through the year. Whatever way we punish, we should do it out of love for the students.

Start of his career

I was transferred from St. Joseph’s College and appointed Rector of the Aquinas College of Higher Studies in Colombo 8, where I spent seventeen long years. Then again, Rev. Fr. Trevor G. Martin came for further studies to Aquinas College and completed his studies to obtain a B.A. degree from the Peradeniya University. Thereafter, I suggested him to get permission for Higher Studies in London from the then Archbishop and we worked out the process. He was successful in gaining admission to the University of London, where he did a Master’s Degree in Education.On completion of his studies in London, he returned to the island and was appointed Rector of St. Loyola College, Negombo. Over there, he proved himself to be a progressive Educationist and a great builder by raising the standards of studies and putting up the necessary infrastructure for a conducive environment for the integral formation and education of students.

I would say that he mobilised all his friends at St. Joseph’s College to lend him a hand to put up several impressive buildings and a well-equipped swimming pool. After fourteen years of yeoman service, he was transferred to St. Peter’s College. At Loyola College, he could be considered as a catalyst of wealth distribution to the periphery.

At St. Peter’s College

Before his arrival at St. Peter’s College, his impressive image and profile as a strict disciplinarian and administrator had already reached St. Peter’s College. The incoming Rector was the subject of discussion mostly among the teachers. From day one, he was seen in front of the chapel to observe the flow of students and teachers to school in the morning.

This made the students and the teachers to be punctual. He went round the classes and barge in wherever there was no teacher. This conveyed the idea that the present rector was more a moving outgoing Rector than an office rector. His observations, as he went around, fired him with a few ideas as to the improvement of the infrastructure of the college.Rev. Fr. Trevor started by giving a facelift to his office, as well as those of the priests and the clerks. This was the beginning of a chain of buildings and innovations to St. Peter’s College. As he started the office renovations, he dreamt of having a suitable hall that could accommodate three hundred people. So he got the architects and engineers for a meeting and changed the whole foundation and came up with a plan for a three-storeyed building, finding space for a computer section in the first floor.

He realised his dream while working day and night. We could see him in the night, seated on a chair in the site and sleeping and probably dreaming of the next building. Before this building came up, all staff meetings and parents’ meetings were held in the Chapel. A hall of this nature was essential for St. Peter’s College. The Computer Section, too, needed modernisation with Interactive Smart Boards. Accordingly, with the support of the Old Boys, he brought about an improvement so as to keep in line with modern day demands.

Renovation projects

The second project was the refurbishing and modernisation the laboratories. The chemicals and apparatus were old and irrelevant and had to be discarded. This project was mostly funded by an Old Boy in the UK and a past batch of Old Boys in Sri Lanka. The stock of chemicals and apparatus were shipped by one of our loyal old Boys, Themiya de Mel, in whose presence the labs were opened.

The third project was the establishment of a fully-equipped medical centre by dismantling the then existing medical center and relocating it in a more conducive and convenient place. During these projects; there were, I would say; other secondary projects that were going on. The refurbishing of the male and female staff rooms, as well as the provision of new cupboards and furniture, were also carried out, expressing the Rector’s concern for the teachers. He installed air-conditioners for all the staff rooms, both in the College section and the Primary section.The Rector planned out a pavilion project. He also gave two other priests to plan out another chapel. We had with us these two plans and it was a question of which should be the first. After discussing with the priests and some Old Boys, a decision was made to go ahead with the pavilion. It was a massive project and it was only a man like Rev. Fr. Trevor who could take up the challenge. He spent days and nights at the site, encouraging the workers, engineers, and architects to make sure that it would be ready for the opening by Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

The other project was the Chapel Project; to put up a spacious Chapel at the centre of the buildings where the portico exists. Last week, when I was having a chat with the Rev. Fr., he told me that if he had one more year, he would have seen to the completion of that project, too. He had been dreaming as to how he could make St. Peter’s College a unique Institution. The latest dream was to have a solar power system so that we could cut down the electricity bill.

In spite of all the building activities, Rev. Fr. Trevor focused on providing an integral education to the students. Thus, we had regular meetings to plan out the academic training of students. Sometimes, he fished for good teachers elsewhere and had the courage to replace some teachers who were inefficient. He followed up the teachers to see how ‘many real good class hours a teacher was putting in so as to cover the syllabus. He did not fail to pull up teachers who were not teaching properly.

Rev. Fr. Trevor and sports

Rev. Fr. Trevor often talks about him playing hockey and some cricket at St. Benedict’s College, Kotahena. He also enhanced his sportsmanship by being the Prefect of Games at St. Joseph’s College. All these experiences contributed to his commitment and dedication to sports at St. Peter’s College. He would encourage the coaches and the students to do their best in sports. He had committees appointed to oversee the progress of each sport and never failed to take necessary action when targets were not attained. He never missed any matches of any sport. He was a lover of sports and wanted to see the college doing well in every sport. Under his leadership, the college achieved great heights in almost every sport. Peterites should appreciate the encouragement and motivation that he gave.

When Rev. Fr. Trevor is bitten by a project bug, he never fails to rest until he has turned every stone to realise that project. Thus, he would also reach out to the Old Boys for help and motivate the parents to lend a hand, whatever way possible to realise his dream. His PR is such that many Old Boys would respond positively to his requests. He also made it a point to reach out to the Old Boy Peterite Unions across the globe to muster their support, which, I think, no other Rector has done in this manner.

Rev. Fr. Trevor: a priest and friend

Whatever we do, if we fail to project our priestly image, we are failures. As priests, we are not without shortcomings. Jesus himself knew our weak human nature and that is why he said that we should be ready to forgive our brothers who do wrong to us; not only seven times, but seventy times seven. We are also called upon to wipe the feet of our subjects and be of humble service to them. To do all these, it is important for us to be animated and encouraged by the life of Christ. Christ is the vine and we are the branches. So, if we are to produce results according to the mind of Christ, we have to be united with him.

Rev. Fr. Trevor believed in this and he often expressed his gratitude to God and Mother Mary in all the assemblies and tried to inculcate this kind of spiritual attitude even among the students. For him, the Eucharist was quite central to his life and it was what pushed him to dedicate himself to the service of St. Peter’s College.I noticed Rev. Fr. Trevor as a friend in need and a friend indeed. During my acquaintance with him, I found him to be always obliging and generous. For the fiftieth jubilee of my priestly ordination, he showed great concern to do it in an impressive manner and, going out of his way, he made it a special occasion for me. But it was not only for me; all the birthdays of priests in the community were celebrated by getting other priests to join the celebrations. In various ways, he tried to build a happy community and to see to the comfort and convenience of the priests.

Let me express our deepest gratitude for what you have been to the Priestly Community. I thank God for the gift of Rev. Fr. Trevor Martin to St. Peter’s College and the church. Our wish for him is that wherever God places him, let him always be true to his priesthood, and to the service of God’s people.

Ad Multos Annos in an ambience of Virtus et Veritas.

Rev. Dr. W.D.G. Chrispin Leo
Emeritus Rector,
Aquinas College of Higher Studies


 

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