Rev. Bro. Philip of Jesus passed away on January 3 to his eternal reward at Diyagala Boys’ Town in Ragama. Without any exaggeration, one could see him as a legend and saint. His devotion and uncompromising loyalty to the Catholic faith and religion has never been in doubt.
To my humble opinion, he has demonstrated as one of the Christian Brothers of this century. Rev. Bro. Philip believed that he had come to this world to fulfil a special mission of God. Countless memories of Rev. Bro. Philip come to my mind. His deep sense of knowledge and humble attitude of touching the pulse of people changed thousands of lives towards the positive faith of Christian life.
To my humble opinion, he has demonstrated as one of the Christian Brothers of this century
Samagapala Arachchige Don Benjamin was born to S.D. Philip Appuhamy and Welbina Jayawardena on May 23, 1934 at Kurukulawa in Ragama as the fourth in a family of nine children. He had his early education at Roman Catholic School Kurukulawa and was taught by Jane Nanayakkara. During the world war, he attended Puwakpitiya Maha Vidyalaya from 1944-1945. He started his secondary education at De Mazenod College and came to school with his father in their buggy cart. Rev. Bro. Cashmere was the Principal while it was Rev. Bro. Cassian who recruited young Benjamin to Juniourate on January 8, 1950. After completing Junior School Certificate (JSC) at De La Salle College, he was selected to go to Penang with twelve others in 1954. At De La Salle, he was taught by De Lasallian Brothers, Thomas Philip, Thomas Alphonsus and Mr. Matinus. After being recruited to Penang, at the scholasticate he trained under Brother Thomas Alphonsus from 1954 to 1956, within that period he completed London O/L and A/L, Sinhala, Pali and History. In 1957, he was selected to follow the Agriculture Course at Peradeniya University and went to De Mazenod College as an assistant teacher.
In 1963, he was attached to Diyagala Boys’ Town as a teacher and from 1964 to 1971 worked as an instructor and director of agro management at DBT. After working for 12 years at Diyagala Boys’ Town, he was awarded a scholarship for higher studies in the UK from 1971 to 1974 and completed the BSc Bio-Science degree from the University of Bold, United Kingdom. He obtained the Rural Extension Certificate from the Netherlands University in 1988 and was appointed to St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa and from 1989 to 1994 as director of St. Benedict’s College, Colombo and retired on May 22, 1994 at the age of 60 as principal of the A-Grade Cadre. Thereafter, he joined the Lasallian Education Services, followed ISFA courses and obtained an MA in Education. He then was sent to Rome to study the life and work of DLS and carried out an in-depth study in Pastoral Counselling in Sri Lanka to attend the District Chapter.
Finally, he was sent back to Diyagala Boy’s Town and worked as an advisor to the Managing Director DBT and to work as a senior counsellor to Brother Provincial and a member of the Board of Control DBT. Rev. Bro. Philip had been the President of Gampaha District Basketball Association and member of the Executive Committee of the Basketball Federation in Sri Lanka. He was also the Vice President of the Basketball Federation in Sri Lanka. He served in many a mission, leaving his stamp wherever he served. His life could be summed up as follows:
“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And when passing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of times”
May the soul of Rev. Bro. Philip of Jesus rest in peace!
By Godfrey Cooray,
Board member of DBT.