Rev. Sr. Miriam Vanderkone

Ever devout and committed

Rev. Sister Mary Helen Grace Vanderkone was born on August 15, 1931, in Rambaikulam,Vavuniya, to orthodox Roman Catholic parents Saverimuttu Mudaliyar Vanderkoen and Agnesamma Vanderkoen. She lost her mother when she was only six years old and her elder sister Regina took over the mother’s role. Rev. Father Z.N. Croos was the Parish Priest of St. Anthony’s Church, Rambaikulam, Vavuniya, when Rev. Sister Miriam attended the Rambaikulam Roman Catholic Primary School. He became her role model.

In 1942, Rev. Sister Miriam started her secondary education as a boarder at Jaffna Holy Family Convent. After passing her Senior School Certificate examination with excellence, she took up teaching as a profession. While employed at the Puttalam Roman Catholic School in 1955, she decided to become a Nun. In June, 1955, she entered the Novitiate at the Pandaitherrupu Holy Family Convent in Jaffna. After two years of spiritual training at the Novitiate, she took her Vows on June 18, 1957, and became a Nun.

Rev. Sister Miriam was deeply religious. She believed in the power of prayer and had strong faith in the Sacred Eucharist and Mother Mary. When things were not rosy in life, she always believed in her prayers. True to her name, the Rev. Sister was devoted to Mother Mary and always propagated the Marian Devotion wherever she was stationed.

Rev. Sister Miriam joined the St. Joseph’s Teachers’ Training College at Columbuthurai, Jaffna, in 1959 and graduated in 1961 with Distinctions in all subjects. Since then, she taught at the Vankalai Roman Catholic School, Illavalai Holy Family Convent, Mullaitivu Tamil School, Jaffna St. Mary’s Our Lady of Refuge School, Mannar St. Xavier’s Girls’ Maha Vidyalayam, Pesalai Tamil School, and at the Vankalai St. Anne’s School. The Rev. Sister taught her students with dedication and responsibility, and many of her students excelled in all their studies and blossomed into respected citizens of society. They are forever grateful for her fostering and teachings.

Rev. Sister Miriam retired from teaching in 1987 and took over social work initially in Jaffna, and later in Colombo. In the late ‘90s, she was sent to Colombo to live with the Holy Family Sisters at Lauries Road, Bambalapitiya. The Holy Family Congregation appointed Rev. Sr. Miriam to the Wellawatte St. Lawrence Parish. The former Parish Priest of St. Lawrence’s Church, late Rev. Fr. Cyril S. Perera, built the St. Lawrence Apartment with 11 units on a land donated by a parishioner at Fredericka Road, Wellawatte. He reserved three units to be used for the purpose of charity programmes.

One unit with a chapel was given to the Holy Family Sisters to reside and help the Parish in religious activities. The Rev. Sister joined the Sisters at the St. Lawrence’s Apartment and assisted the Parish in religious activities. She played an active role at St. Lawrence Church, Wellawatte, and St. Anthony’s Church, Mayura Place. The Rev. Sister Miriam was very talented and giving; she shared her knowledge and experiences with all parishioners. She had charisma, and always helped the poor—especially in providing education to orphans and the marginalised. Rev. Sr. Miriam taught Sunday School students at St. Lawrence’s Church and also organised other free classes to poor children at St. Anthony’s Church in Mayura Place.

The Rev. Sister was in charge of teaching Religion for children who attended the International Schools as well, because it was not included in their syllabi. She also prepared Baptisms for Roman Catholic families. During the civil unrest, about fifteen displaced students from war-torn areas were accommodated in the St Lawrence’s Apartment Third Unit under the care and supervision of the Holy Family Nuns. Rev. Sister Miriam always looked into the spiritual and material needs of the boarders. She was a gifted teacher and a very strict disciplinarian. All the boarders listened to her word and enjoyed a peaceful life. Rev. Sr. Miriam continued to serve at St. Lawrence’s Church and handled all its religious activities. She distributed Holy Communion during Holy Mass at both St. Anthony’s Church and St. Lawrence’s Church. She often visited the sick in their homes and hospitals, and distributed Holy Communion and prayed for them. She always consoled them.

Her simplicity and humility touched the hearts of many and was a source of inspiration at times of adversities. After the sale of the property on which St Lawrence’s Apartment was built, Rev. Sr. Miriam moved to Jaffna and continued to serve the Jaffna Diocese. She dedicated her vocation to religious life for over sixty long years and, in 2017, celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of her religious profession. At her old age, she retired from religious activities and entered the Holy Family Congregation Elders’ Home at Passiyoor, Jaffna. Rev. Sister Miriam lived there until her passing at the ripe old age of 90 on April 16, this year.

The parishioners of Wellawatte remember Rev. Sister Mariam with much gratitude and respect for the yeoman services rendered over the years at the Wellawatte Parish. They pray for the repose of her soul. May the Lord of Mercy and Love accept her into the land inherited by her virtues and chastity in Heaven and grace her with Heavenly Bliss. May her soul rest in peace

S.B. David


Anton Pulle

Beloved Father

It’s with deep sadness and pride that I penned these few lines,
For a father who was so dear to Aiya, Malli and me,
He did not love only us, but he loved all humankind,
And taught us to do the same,
He did not care for money, clothes, or worldly pleasures,
But uplifted the downtrodden and the marginalised
He was honest to the core in all his dealings,
And taught us to be the same,
He was a loving family man, and was a friend to all
He loved all religions and all races,
And taught us to do the same,
So, dearest Dad, as God wanted you in his kingdom,
We bid you goodbye, and thank you for your teachings
We will do the same to meet you one day

The Pulle family,


K.M.H. Akbar

Man of exemplary character

The late K.M.H. Akbar was born on November 18, 1941, in the village of Mutur situated in the Trincomalee District of the Eastern Province. He passed away on April 27, 2018, in Colombo. Many people shuddered when they heard about his demise. It is no exaggeration to say that his services are timeless, even though he is no more; they are etched into the centre of their hearts.

Akbar started his primary education at the Mutur Central College in Trincomalee. After he succeeded in his Grade 5 Scholarship Examination, he joined the Bt/Vantharumoolai Central College in the Batticaloa District. He later received his higher education at Zahira College, Colombo, in English Medium.

The late Akbar entered the University of Peradeniya and obtained a Special Degree in Economics after studying during the period of 1960/64. He became the first Muslim Graduate from Mutur, and the second from the Trincomalee District. Furthermore, he garlanded himself as the first Charted Accountant of the Trincomalee District.

Akbar was a lecturer at the Maradana Technical College and also a Founding Member of the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka (SEUSL). He served the latter during the tenures of three consecutive Vice-Chancellors. He was the Secretary of Sri Lanka Baithul Mal, as well as a representative of the Ceasefire Monitoring Mission of the Trincomalee District.

Though he lived in Colombo, due to his profession as a Managing Director of Asian Cotton Mills Ltd., Akbar was very conscious about his community. He took measures to make sure the safe living of internally-displaced persons in Mutur between 1985 and 2002. He made arrangements to lodge displaced persons at Colombo, as refugees at mosques. He toiled hard to get the provisions to the people who lived as refugees in Mutur. For that, he will remain in the hearts of many.

Akbar was very thoughtful, simple, and intelligent. He was a man of exemplary character and lived a very successful life. His death is an irreparable loss to the country. Both his sons have been following his footsteps. May Allah grant him the best place in Jannathul Firthous.

A.R. Najifudeen
Management Assistant, SEUSL