Holy Angel Sisters
Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Angels is the longest standing indigenous religious congregation in Sri Lanka. The founder of this congregation is the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Van Reeth SJ, the first Bishop of Galle and it was founded by him in the year 1903 and dedicated to St. Michael, the Archangel as its patron. He prepared the constitution of the congregation himself and handed over to the Sisters in the year 1919.
St. Anthony’s English Mixed School, Ganegama
With the commencement of the Congregation of the Sisters of Holy Angels, the first school that they established was St. Anthony’s English Mixed School in Ganegama in 1918. Their commitment to uplift the standards of this school was enormous. At a time when there was no proper transportation and even electricity, the sisters were willing to keep the children with them in the convent and send them to the school. They were willing to teach the needy children without charging fees. A known slogan during this time was “if you don’t have money, go to Holy Angel Sisters…” was something that was popular among the people.
St. Mary’s English Mixed School, Alpitiya
This school was set up in 1925 to give education to the students coming from estates and from low-income families. The school rapidly grew and gave its service to many of the needy children. Many children did their studies in the school free of charge. There was also provision for the girls to undergo formation to become nuns.
St. Agnes’ Convent, Balangoda
This school was started in 1930 in order to give education to the poor children in the area. There was a hostel for the children , where, away from home, they did their studies with peace of mind. In addition to normal classes, there were also classes for sewing, handicraft etc.
Wasala Walawwa – Tangalle Balika Vidyalaya, Tangalle
In 1934, the sisters started the above school in the aforementioned Walawwa for the children of the state sector workers. Later, due to the outbreak of Malaria, this school was closed even though the sisters tried their best to retain it.
Holy Angels Convent, Kuliyapitiya
This school was started by the sisters in the year 1955 in order to give a catholic education to the girls in this area. This is the only girls’ school in Kuliyapitiya Education Zone. With greatest difficiculties, the sisters have been able to keep the identity of the school intact.
St. Agnes’ Convent, Kahawatte
In 1956, there was a small village school set up in Kahawatte. This was in the premises of the church, together with a Montessori school. The poor children particularly from the estate sector benefitted from this. The sisters also gave the children a vocational training for sewing and handicraft.
Dankotuwa Balika Vidyalaya, Dankotuwa
This school was started through the intervention of the government and was handed over to the sisters for administration. This can be called as one of the best schools in this area. The sisters continue to give leadership to the school.
Holy Angels’ School of Hope, Payagala
After the tsunami in 2004, there was no proper school for the children of the fisher families in the area of Payagala. The parents came to the church and pleaded with the parish priest to start a new school. As a result of that, in 2007, this school was inaugurated with the blessings of the Most Rev. Dr. Oswald Gomis, Archbishop of Colombo. This school continue to serve the children of this area as an aided school.
The other services rendered by the Holy Angel Sisters…
- They are known for their generosity and commitment for the poor people. There are ample examples of sharing food and lodging with the poor children of the schools
- In 1959, the Good Shepherd Sisters handed over St. Scholastica’s Convent, Kandy to the Holy Angel Sisters
- In 1976, Ave Maria Convent, Negombo was handed over to the Holy Angel Sisters. They managed the school for 20 years and brought the school to great heights.
- When the schools were taken over by the government in 1960, the sisters lost complete control of the schools which they had started in different place. Therefore, they went to other government schools and started teaching. They also joined some of the Catholic private schools for teaching.
A very special characteristic that we can see in the services of the sisters is that they always opt to be with the poorest of the poor people in the society. They commit themselves to help the members of the society who come from such backgrounds to come to better standards in life.
The silent service they have rendered in many other places through their commitment is to be recorded here. There are so many other activities they have performed silently for the Kingdom of God. The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka is thankful to the sisters of Holy Angels for the wonderful services done by them in order to raise the standards of education in this country. Their services were particularly for the poor people and they benefitted a lot by their services.