Speech of The Chief Guest - Very Rev. Fr. Nihal Nanayakkara,
the Vicar General/ Director of Education & General Manager of Catholic Private Schools in the Diocese of Galle at the Prize Giving of
St. Mary's Convent School, Matara , Sri Lanka
on the 01st July 2008
Rev. Fr. Ranjith Madurawela, the General Manager of Catholic Private Schools in the Western Province - Guest of Honour , Rev. Fr. Charles Hewawasam, the Administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Matara, Rev. Fathers, Rev. Sr. Maxima Rupasinghe, the Superior of the Convent,
Rev. Sr. Mari Samaranayake, the Former Principal of the Convent, Rev. Sisters, Mrs. Priyanthi Kuruppu, Deputy Director of Private Schools-Ministry of Education - Guest of Honour , Mr. W.R. Weerakoon, Zonal Director of Education, Mr. W. Kulatunga, Divisional Director of Education, Principals of Schools, Rev. Sr. Principal & Members of the Staff , The honourable Guests / Special Invitees / Well-wishers, Parents / Past Pupils & My Dear Students / Children,
As you know very well, that there are so many very important and prominent annual events in any School and the Annual Prize Giving is one of them. I humbly feel, that it has been a great privilege for me to have been invited today, as the Chief Guest for this great occasion, namely the annual prize giving of our School and your Alma Mater. Let me very sincerely and joyfully express my gratitude and thanks to Rev. Sr. Principal and the organizing committee for your kind gesture.
Right from the very inception, St. Mary's Convent, Matara has been an educational Institution, run by the Sisters of Charity, has become a highly recognized and reputed School and still is doing yeoman service to the Southern Province, particularly in the District of Matara. We must not forget, that St. Mary's Convent is the one and only private school in the Southern Province - in the Diocese of Galle, that belongs to the Catholic Church, today.
The Catholic Church has from the very beginning taken a very keen interest in Education. This is because, Jesus, our founder, was a great teacher, which fact, was observed even by those who opposed him at that time. Education is imparting knowledge. Jesus did this, by teaching the people religious doctrines. But more than that, Jesus Himself was a great and exemplarary teacher of Moral principals and teaching.
He taught people how to live in society; so that society can be a locus where people live in peace, unity and harmony, whatever their race, religion, colour or status in their society. Catholic Education, specially in a mixed environment of languages and religious, such as, we find at St. Mary's Convent, gives pride of place to formation in correct moral living.
My dear friends, there is a great decadence in morality in Sri Lanka at the moment. This is not the place or the occasion to analyse the causes of this. But as School Teachers and parents, as responsible people, we must take good notice of this fact, and try our best to give a good moral formation to our students / children.
Let me congratulate all the prize winners. Continue your good and hard work all the time. A word of encouragement to all the other students, who have not obtained any prizes today, but it will be your chance next time; so work for it with much dedication and commitment.
My dear students, you all are in the prime of your childhood and youth. You yourself should not behave in such a way, that you pervert your beautiful childhood and youth. Your duty is to learn facts of the different subjects that you study, and form yourself in good moral living, without getting your innocence and dignity destroyed. Your school faced the brunt of the Tsunami in 2004. But now you have come out of it with new buildings and having gone through some counselling sessions and various programmes etc. So it is your prime duty to move forward bravely and be good, loyal, useful citizens of Mother Lanka.
I wish to take this blessed opportunity to thank very sincerely all those who have helped us and continue to do so in one way or the other and specially Very Rev. Ivan Perera, the National Director of Catholic Private Schools and Rev. Fr. Ranjith Madurawela, the General Manager of Catholic Private Schools in the Western Province and all other Government Officials at the Ministerial, Provincial and Zonal Level for their committed services given to us always.
My dear Members of the Staff, while appreciating your hard and committed work, be with your students, live among them, be guides to them. Children should be able to mould their lives by looking up to you; so be an example to them always.
My dear parents, Past Pupils and well-wishers, while valuing all of your generous cooperation; please continue to support your own Alma Mater, be with the staff and the children, and seek the welfare of the School and the children, rather than any personal profit or gain.
Finally, let me wish all of you a happy and a bright future.
Thank you and May God Bless you all!