by Fr.Emmanuel Fernando, OMI
Being missionaries of the poor and the disadvantaged and ministering for many years in the diocese of Anuradhapura which embraces the two administrative districts of North Central Province (NCP), the Oblate Fathers, in the spirit of St. Eugene de Mazenod, the Founder of the Congregation of the Oblates, felt empowered and energized to respond innovatively to the needs of the families for education of their children in the District of Anuradhapura by starting a college.
It needs to be noted that Bishop Christopher Bonjean OMI who transformed the Catholic School Society of Jaffna, initiated by Vicar Apostolic Orazio Bettacchini of Jaffna, into St. Patrick’s College, and later initiated the founding of St. Joseph’s College in Colombo, had devoted his time and energy for the education of Catholics and non-Catholics in Sri Lanka.
For example, the local language school begun at Anuradhapura by the Bishop Bonjean in 1874, became a registered Government English school under the leadership of Bishop Henry Joulain OMI with the name St. Joseph’s College, on March 19, 1898. So the Oblate Fathers as educators are not strangers in Anuradhapura. St. Joseph’s College, Anuradhapura was nationalized by the Sri Lankan Government in 1960.
The official opening of the new MAZENOD COLLEGE, an International English-medium School at Anuradhapura, with Fr. Dileepa Jayamaha OMI, appointed as the Principal, took place on January 07, 2019 in the presence of Rev. Fr. Irwin Morais, OMI, the then Oblate Leader and Bishop Norbert Andradi OMI, Bishop of the Diocese of Anuradhapura.
Among those present on that occasion, special mention must be made of Venerable Nugethane Pagnananda Thero, the chief incumbent of Sri Sambuddhi Jayanthi Viharaya, Anuradhapura and Sivashri Balachandran, the Hindu Kurukkal of Anuradhapura. Grade one classes commenced with 37 children (boys and girls) with three lay teachers in the tutorial staff.
The Mission- Vision of Mazenod College
The Oblates dedicated to the ministry of education consider service as the inseparable twin of love. Hence the motto of the College: Servire in amore: to serve with love. It is through selfless love manifested through deeds of compassionate service (the mission) they will endeavor to give glory to God (vision) and obtain salvation.
Therefore the Oblates will commit themselves not only to make the students excel in studies with needed skills but also to lead the children, the parents and the teachers to act with dignity as human beings, compassionately loving and respecting one another, thereby maintaining also equality and inclusion among them.
Since the students belonging to major Religious Faiths are also beneficiaries of the services at Mazenod College, the Oblates educators / teachers try to enable them to embody in their lives the values and virtues of the Founders of their Faiths.
Parents’ meetings with the help of competent persons are held regularly. Sinhala language Day, English language Day, Vesak Bakthi Gee, Sports Meet, Sinhala and Hindu New Year, Sinhala and English Language Days, Annual Concert and Christmas Carols are some of the events which take place during the year in order to form the students academically and to build their character.
In four years and six months the number of students from grade 1 to grade 5 has increased from 37 to 285. There are 30 teachers in the present tutorial staff. Holy Family Sister Irene Fernando, a trained teacher and retired school Principal, helps the administration while Holy Family Sister Sriyani Rodrigo, a retired School Principal of Holy Family Convent, Kurunegalaand member of Education office of Colombo Archdiocese, continues to train the teachers.
Fr. Dileepa Jayamaha OMI, the Principal of Mazenod College, Anuradhapura is ably assisted by Fr. Shane De Rosayro OMI, the Vice-Principal and the teachers.