Born in 1916, little Don Peter received his elementary education from the village school and had his secondary education from Maris Stella College, Negombo. In 1935, he entered the Minor Seminary in Borella and attended St. Joseph’s College. He had his priestly formation at St. Bernard’s Seminary and was ordained in 1941 by the Most Rev. Dr. John Mary Masson OMI.
He spent the first years of his priesthood in parishes until he was appointed to the staff of St. Joseph’s College, Colombo and served as the prefect of discipline, prefect of boarders and the prefect of studies.
With the national awakening in Sri Lanka, many of the Catholic priests had the tendency to indigenize the church’s outlook and worked towards it tirelessly. Among those few priests, Fr. Don Peter was one of them who dedicated himself for the church by being able to study Pali and few other oriental languages in order to keep close relationships with the Buddhist brethren. He also went for his higher studies to England and did some studies in the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London. He also did his doctoral studies in the same line and presented a thesis on “Comparative Study of the Influence of Buddhism and Christianity in Ceylon Education.”
His specialization is in the field of education and shone as an educationist in this country. In 1961, he was appointed as the Rector of St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. He was the first Old Boy, first Sinhalese and the first diocesan priest to hold the position.
As the Rector of the Aquinas College of Higher Studies for over 15 years, he tirelessly worked towards expanding the curriculum and also erected new buildings for the college. Most of his research works was on education. He also did his researches on history and later became an internationally recognized historian.
Among his contributions to the nation in the field of education, there are so many that we could mention about. He was a member of the Government Educational Publications Board, President of the Headmasters’ Conference etc.
This capable researcher is also known for his excellent writing ability. He has compiled many books and has written over 400 articles to periodicals here and overseas both in Sinhala and in English. Whatever the knowledge he found through his researches, he applied them in the practical life in order to become more efficient and accurate. Maximize the use of the time was one of his feats. He is known for his lucid writing style that often fascinates people.
He presented himself as a shield against the criticism that came to the church from the society. He was open to express himself regarding the impact of the Catholic education institutes on general education of the country. He was a true representative of Christ. His simple, disciplined and exemplary life was a witness to God’s love for his people.