The Dominicans have come to Sri Lanka at different intervals in the history. The recorded first arrival of them in Sri Lanka takes place in the year 1605. The prevailing political atmosphere did not allow them to stay longer in Sri Lanka. As they were the last missionary group to come to Sri Lanka, they invariably had to work in rural areas and undergo many hardships. They also got an opportunity to work in Colombo, build many churches and be in charge of catholic communities, giving them much spiritual input.
Their second and more impressive arrival in Sri Lanka takes place in 1951, at the request of the Most Rev. Dr. Thomas Cardinal Cooray OMI, Archbishop of Colombo, the Dominicans came to the country again. Rare subjects such as International Law were taught by them in the Aquinas College, Borella and contributed for the education of this country. as Dominicans vacated Sri Lanka, there was no possibility for the to establish themselves in this country and plan for the future progress of the congregation. If they were to come back to Sri Lanka again their formation had to be received from India. Accordingly, some Dominican priests came to this country again in 1987.
They continue to teach religious educations and seminaries such as National Seminary of Our lady of Lanka, Ampitiya, Don Bosco Philosophate, St. Joseph Vaz Dewa Dharma Niketanaya, Colombo, Aquinas College of Higher Studies, Colombo and University of Kelaniya, Kelaniya. They also serve in state organizations such as Department of Education, National Institute of Education, Maharagama and contribute for the general education of this country.
Their contribution in a vast array of areas is to be much appreciated by the Catholics of this country and their commitment will remain indispensable.
Dominican Sisters of the Philippines
The Dominican Sisters of the Philippines came to Sri Lanka in the year…………….. at the invitation of ………………………. They initially took residence in Pannipitiya as was guided by the Most Rev. Dr. Thomas Cardinal Cooray OMI, Archbishop of Colombo.
One of the most prioritized apostolates taken over by the Sisters is the teaching and administration of Christ King College, Pannipitiya. This school was started in Pannipitiya by Rev. Fr. Zacccharius Dabarera, the Parish Priest in 1929 and was registered as a fee-levying school in 1952. The Dominican Sisters took over the school in…………………… From that day onwards, they have been administering the school in every way and have been able to bring it to greater heights through their commitment. They still continue to manage this school.
In the year 1992, a Branch School of Christ King College, Pannipitiya was started in Veliveriya and was handed over to the Franciscan Fathers for the administration. In the year this Branch School was made independent 2109 and given autonomous administration. Until 2019, the Branch School also remained under the administration of the Dominican Sisters.
There are many Sisters of this congregation who involve themselves in the apostolate of education by teaching in both private and government schools. The congregation has been able to devote a good number of Sisters for this task. Many teachers teach in Catholic Private Schools in the Archdiocese of Colombo while many others teach in government schools.
In the year…………………., the Good Shepherd Sisters handed over St. Anne’s Convent, Wattala to the Dominican Sisters. They administer this school to this day.
Dominican Sisters of Malta
The Dominican Sisters of Malta came to Sri Lanka in the year 1854 at the invitation of the Most Rev. Dr. Thomas Cardinal Cooray OMI, Archbishop of Colombo and too residence in Timbirigasyaya and looked after a crèche. Their first convent was in Timbirigasyaya, which dedicated to St. Martin de Porres. They mostly engaged in missionary and pastoral activities and also in the education of the poor.
They started their services in different places in Archdiocese of Colombo, Diocese of Chilaw and in the Diocese of Kurunegala and did a fairly good service, especially by looking after destitute girls. Due to different reasons, they had to stop their services in Sri Lanka and went back to Malta in 1966. When Kurunegala was made a new diocese, the Most Rev. Dr. Raymond Peiris, Bishop of Kurunegala invited the sisters to come back to Sri Lanka again. Accordingly, 4 Sri Lankan Sisters came and had their first residence in Melsiripura, Kurunegala.
Ave Maria Covent, Bolawalana was started in 1998 and the administration of the school was handed over to the Good Shepherd Sisters. It was later handed over to the Dominican Sisters for administration in 2005. From that year onwards, they have been managing this school and have been able to take it to greater heights.
Dominican Sisters have committed themselves to teach in both Catholic Private Schools and the government schools and continue to serve the children with utmost commitment.
The local church in Sri Lanka is grateful to the Dominican Sisters for their commitment to uplift the education in Sri Lanka.