Holy Family Sisters in the Archdiocese of Colombo
In 1903, a Holy Family Convent was started at Bambalapitiya, which was a suburb of the city of Colombo. For a period of five years (1903 -1908), the small community of the Holy Family Sisters experienced many hardships on account of the lack of space, proper facilities and equipment, at last a permanent residence was made in “Retreat Bungalow” on 1st February 1908. The school quickly was recognized as an efficient Secondary School and numbers grew steadily. Religious education and moral training hold pride of place as Holy Family Convent. Its aim from its inception has been to produce steadfast and dedicated citizens of Sri Lanka. This Institution is a non-fee levying private school,
Bambalapitiya – Lauries Road Convent
In 1903, the Archbishop of Colombo Bishop Melizan, invited the Sisters of the Holy Family, to start a school in the parish of Bambalapitiya. The Directress Mother Celeste Marchal, responded with great enthusiasm, and sent Sr. Agnes Stouter, a Sri Lankan who joined the religious family, to start the school at Lauries Road, for the English speaking children. When the strength of the school increased, and they needed more space, they moved over to Galle Road, Bambalapitiya.
From 1905 till 1977, the Holy Family Sisters of Colombo Province continued their services at Lauries Road, both in Sinhala and Tamil schools that accommodated mostly the poor children of the locality. They were involved in parish work, Catechetic, visiting families, helping young women and encouraging wholesome family life. The Sisters by their simple presence drew many hearts to God. It had also served as a house of formation, a house for sick and for convalescence.
In 1974, the Sister of Jaffna had to face untold difficulties in finding accommodation in Colombo, especially when they came over to attend to urgent medical needs. To remedy this situation, a house was rented out in Nugegoda by the Jaffna Province. But it proved unsuitable for the purpose. The then Provincial of Colombo, Sr. Louisa de Alwis, decided with her Council to share one of their houses with the sisters of Jaffna. It was the one at Lauries Road. On 31st March 1977, it was handed over to the Jaffna Province. Little Flower Convent, as it was called fulfilled a long felt need;
This Convent served as a transit house for the Sisters of the Jaffna Province who came to Colombo from distant places like Up-country, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Mannar and Jaffna for various purposes – medical, physcial, spiritual and social. It accommodated the temproray professed Sisters from both Provinces who were following the Sister Formation Course and this gave expression to unity and love. It has also served as a link between the General Council and the two Provinces during the height of the war.
The Sisters are engaged in various missionary activities, assisting in the parish work, visiting families and distributing communion to the sick. Through their service in the schools, they educate the children specially the displaced Tamil children, forming them to be good and useful citizens of our country. This house is also open to meet the needs of the needy and it is also a place for the Holy Family Lay Associates to come together and carry out their meetings etc.
Throughout these 106 years we have touched many lives both rich and poor, old and young, in good times and in bad, to experience the richness and beauty of sisterly love, care and concern, for giving us a chance to serve all who came under this roof. But on 15th December 2010, the Convent was taken over by the Archdiocese to meet the needs of the Archdiocese.
The school was registered in 1924, and in 1925, Archbishop Coudert decided to entrust the school to the Holy Family Sisters. There were 104 pupils and two Sisters travelled daily to school from Bambalapitiya. New classrooms were built and blessed on the 7th July 1928. In 1935, three of the classes moved into the premises, now known as Holy Family Convent, Dehiwela. Five years later the first set of seniors were sent in for the Senior School Certificate Examination.
In January 1934, the Holy Family Sister took charge of the girls of the College, and at the end of the year the girls’ section became a separate institution under the Sisters. With the take-over of assisted schools, Holy Family Convent became a private school, non-aided, non-fee-levying.
On August 8th 1942, classes were started with the blessing of the Archbishop. There were 36 pupils. The Sisters had to travel daily from Bambalapitiya.
In 1898, the Sisters were in Uswetakeiyawa, Kepungoda, Bopitiya, Delatura (closed in 1971) and Udammita (amalgamated with Dehiyagatha in 1974. In Uswetakeiyawa there was no land for the school; so it was held on the verandah of the Church. At Udammita, there was a school with 120 children. Tudella, a large village, the school was attached to the Pamunugama mission, and it was once managed by the Pamunugama Sisterhood. The Sisters of St. Peter later took charge of it.
On the 1st September 1895, the Sisters moved into Halpe . Since the foundation of the Convent of Wennappuwa in 1885, 15 Convents were opened in the district of Chilaw and Negombo before the end of the century. Between 1900 and 1909, twenty-two new Convents were opened, eight in the North of the Maha Oya and fourteen to the South of it. The Sinhala Training College for lady teachers commenced at Wennappuwa in October 1904 with five teachers, within the Convent premises at Wennapuwa. Gradually it grew to be a spacious two storey building, fully equipped with laboratories, libraries, large lecture halls and a well-trained staff. By 1941, 490 students, Religious and lay had passed through it. In 1950, all denominational training Colleges it was closed down.