A Brief History of our College

 

            In 1919, when World War I had just finished and people all over the world took to the task of peace, Very Rev. Fr. M. J. Le Goc, the Rector of St. Joseph's College, Colombo had a vision of a College in the southern suburbs of Colombo. Since the classrooms at St. Joseph's were full and couldn't admit any more students, a new school was the answer to this problem which will educate those who couldn't be admitted to St. Joseph's due to the lack of accommodation. While he was traveling one day on his famous motor bicycle with this idea in mind, Fr. Le Goc spotted a block of cinnamon land in Bambalapitiya which belonged to Mr. E. C. de Fonseka.

        The land in which St. Peter's now stands has a rich history itself. According to documents, Colonel de Meuron owned the land in the late Dutch period which was called "Kelan Kaduwatte". In 1789 Seesma Lebbe bought the land from the Colonel.

          On the right hand wing , were the living quarters of the President of the institution, Rev. Fr. J. Nicholas Perera O.M.I. On the other wing were also quarters for a Parish Priest, Fr. Lejuene. As mentioned before the school stood on block of land of 9 1/2 acres in extend with a road frontage of 324 feet. The body of the building which ran parallel to the road was 230 feet in length. Two arms stretched forward from either end, their extremities rising symmetrically 150 feet from the road. A large portion jutted out from the center, out of a wide open passage, which cut the main building in two. Thus the whole scene from the road was shaped in the form of an "E" with the base running from the south to the north. The building occupied a ground area of 18450 sq.ft. and was portioned into six open air classrooms, three closed class rooms, the other rooms could be used as classrooms were all 26x20 ft. each. The building included rooms for teachers, bedrooms for the clergy, offices, a dinning room and sitting room for the priests-in–charge and the chapel with pews with accommodation for 250 persons, measuring 60x25 ft. Apart from the sanctuary whose dimensions were 25x25ft. and the vestry being 26x8ft. The sanctuary being situated at the northern angle of the building, the capacity of the chapel could be increased when necessary by opening out the folding the partitions of the three open air class rooms. By the same process, the classrooms could be converted into an Assembly Hall whenever it was needed. The main block of buildings, was supplemented by others covering an area of 1829 sqft. This section had the kitchen, a pantry, servant's room, and the store room. The most notable portion in this section was the boys Tiffin room.

          On the right hand wing , were the living quarters of the President of the institution, Rev. Fr. J. Nicholas Perera O.M.I. On the other wing were also quarters for a Parish Priest, Fr. Lejuene. As mentioned before the school stood on block of land of 9 1/2 acres in extend with a road frontage of 324 feet. The body of the building which ran parallel to the road was 230 feet in length. Two arms stretched forward from either end, their extremities rising symmetrically 150 feet from the road. A large portion jutted out from the center, out of a wide open passage, which cut the main building in two. Thus the whole scene from the road was shaped in the form of an "E" with the base running from the south to the north. The building occupied a ground area of 18450 sq.ft. and was portioned into six open air classrooms, three closed class rooms, the other rooms could be used as classrooms were all 26x20 ft. each. The building included rooms for teachers, bedrooms for the clergy, offices, a dinning room and sitting room for the priests-in–charge and the chapel with pews with accommodation for 250 persons, measuring 60x25 ft. Apart from the sanctuary whose dimensions were 25x25ft. and the vestry being 26x8ft. The sanctuary being situated at the northern angle of the building, the capacity of the chapel could be increased when necessary by opening out the folding the partitions of the three open air class rooms. By the same process, the classrooms could be converted into an Assembly Hall whenever it was needed. The main block of buildings, was supplemented by others covering an area of 1829 sqft. This section had the kitchen, a pantry, servant's room, and the store room. The most notable portion in this section was the boys Tiffin room.

St. Joseph's College South is Born.

 

                 The inauguration was a happy day for Fr. Le Goc, Rector St. Joseph's College. The opening of St. Joseph 's College, Colombo South was scheduled for Wednesday 18th January 1922, at 3.30 p.m. The school was specially decorated for the occasion with flags and bunting. The railway Department had made special arrangement for the conveyance of the students of St. Joseph's College who were participating for the ceremony. At 2'0' clock in the afternoon on the 18 th January 1922, boys, masters and priest waving the college colours wended their way to the Maradana Railway Station to board a special train to Wellawatte where they had detrained and 

waded their way to the new school near the sea. The opening ceremony began at 3.30p.m at the lawn surrounded by the oval road. Fr. Le Goc, the first rector of St. Joseph 's College South followed by about forty priests, blessed the Alter of the school chapel and then the building. The opening ceremony took place in the presence of a large gathering. His grace the Archbishop and the Hon. Mr. E. Evans, acting director of Education accompanied by the very Rev. Fr. Le Goc, Fr. D.J. Nicholas Perera President of the new school, Very Rev. Fr. Meary, Le Jeune and Lannigan processed to the pavilion. Mr. Evans declared open the school. Fr. Le Goc thanked all those who had contributed to the building fund and specially thanked Mr. D.M.D Stephan for his contribution. A total number of 204 students were admitted on that day and by the end of the year the

number had risen to 268. The first prize distribution was held on the 15 th of December 1922, with Very.Rev. Fr.M.J. Le Goc the founder and the Rector as the chief Guest. It was Fr. Le Goc's patient study of the education system, his great foresight, his power of planning and his personality of converting an idea into a reality that gave birth to St. Peter's College formally known as St. Joseph 's College South.

Separate Entity – St. Peter's College

 

         The most important date in the history of the college is April 8 th 1927. The College estamblished its own identity that day. The Wellawatte branch of St. Joseph 's College Colombo was registered as a separate Secondary school by Gazette notification No: 7575 of 2 nd April, 1927 with the name St. Peter's College, Wellawatte. The celebrations in connection with the re-naming of the College had been held on Wednesday, 29 th June with the feast of St. Peter with a high Mass sung by Very. Rev. Fr. M. J. Le Goc assisted by Rev. Fr. Morel and Theobald Silva. After Mass, a colourful ceremony had taken place on the lawn in front of the college. The College Flag with the colours Blue, White and Gold was blessed by Rev. Fr. Le Goc and hoisted.

Golden Jubilee 1922 – 1972

         The year 1972 dawned with memories of that historic and glorious day when St. Peter's, was inaugurated on 18th January 1922. It was celebrated with jubilation, thanks giving and a bit of reflection of the five decades that had passed. Teachers, Parents, Old Boys, benefactors and the students had a reason to celebrate the fifty years of endeavour and achievement.
        The celebrations commenced with a re-enactment of the event with 200 Josephians walking along Darley Road to the Maradana railway Station and the train stopped at the vary same place as it did fifty years ago when they were being led by Fr. Maurice Le Goc along Kinross Avenue. The Josephians were led by their Rector Rev. Fr. Mervyn Weerakkody, Rev. Fr. Marcellinc Jayakody and Rev. Fr. Lucien Dep and were welcomed by the Peterite Band playing both college anthems. Lt. Heraclitus Jayasekera of St. Peter's was there with the Peterites to welcome them. Mr. J. A. A. Perera an Old Josephian, the only surviving person who had participated in the 1922 event was there too. The Rector Rev. Fr. Theodore Peiris welcomed the Josephians and a special Assembly was held in the Quadrangle. The celebration concluded on 22nd January, 1922 with the Thanksgiving Mass concelebrated by His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Cooray, Archbishop of Colombo.


Diamond Jubilee 1922 – 1982
        Monday, 18th January, 1982 St Peter's recorded its sixty years of service in the field of education since the Archbishop Coudert blessed and opened the new school, St. Joseph 's College South in 1922. The occasion was celebrated in a fitting manner with a large and representative congregation that attended the concelebrated thanksgiving Mass held in the open air college quadrangle. The Mass was held in the presence of sixty priests who concelebrated the mass with the Chief celebrant His Lordship Oswald Gomis, the auxiliary Bishop of Colombo. His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Cooray, Archbishop Emeritus of Colombo and their Lordship Frank Marcus Fernando and Edmund Fernando O.M.I. were also present.

 

       Due to the great stride made in a short time in the fields of Studies, Sports and the improvement in discipline under the leadership of Fr. Wickremasinghe resulted in large the number of applications being received for new admissions. In order to cope this situation, two new Houses were added in the Diamond Jubilee year, Basil House named after the second rector Rev. Fr. Basil A. Wiratunga O.M.I. and Arthur House named after the third Rector Rev. Fr. Arthur N. Fernando. These houses participated for the first time in the Diamond Jubilee athletic Meet held on June, 26th 1982.

        In the diamond Jubilee year, the College Cadet platoon was re-introduced after a lapse of twenty years. More significant however was the elevation on the 15th July, 1982 of the first Old boy Bishop, Rev. Fr. Dr. Henry Joy Gunawardene as the first Bishop of the new Diocese of Anuradhapura – He paid an official visit to College and was given a fitting reception. Also, the 'Nancy Emily Wickremasinghe' Scholarship was established in the Diamond Jubilee Year which was awarded to the best student entering University presented by a loyal Old boy Mr. Anton Wichremasinghe, Chairman of the Film Corporation. The diamond Jubilee celebration came to a close with the Prize giving held on 3rd of December, 1982, where His Excellency J.R. Jayawardene President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka was the chief Guest. On this day the College hall was named as the 'Nicholas Perera Hall' after its builder. The plaque was unveiled by President J. R. Jayawardene.

 

        The eighty seven year period of St. Peters’ College, beginning 1922, could conveniently be divided into six distinct eras. Firstly, The beginnings dominated by Very Rev. Fr. Maurice Le Goc; Secondly the era of the First Rector, Very Rev. Fr. D. J. Nicholas Perera (1922 to 1943) who laid a solid foundation, a period which saw St. Peter’s making a big impact on the local educational scene in next to no time; Thirdly, the aftermath of World War II and the Rectorship of Very Rev. Fr. Basil A. Wiratunga O.M.I. from 1943 to 1955; Fourthly, an era spanning 21 years which take in the Rectorships of five Rectors all of whom had to grapple with financial constraints brought about by the daring and bold decision not to be vested with the State, but to function as a ‘Non fee levying private school’ – Rev. Fr. Arthur Nicholas Fernando (1956 to 1963), Rev. Fr. Mervyn Weerakkody (1963 to 1971), Rev. Fr. Theodore E. Peiris O.M.I. (1971 to 1975), Rev. Fr. Claver Perera (1975 to 1976), and Rev. Fr. Francis Madiwela (1976 to 1977); Fifthly, the enlightening and brilliant Rectorship of Rev. Fr. Joe E. Wickramasinghe (1978 to 1994) an era which could well be called ‘The Renaissance in Peterite History’; this was followed by the eleven year old Rectorship of Rev. Fr. Felician Perera on whose young shoulders fell the responsibility of guiding St. Peter’s into the early 21st Century, bringing us up to the present era – the era of Fr. Travis Gabriel, the 10th Rector of St. Peter’s College.

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