Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya

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In the year 1903, the parish of Bambalapitiya felt that it needed an English school for girls. Archbishop Melizan invited the Sisters of the Holy Family, who had worked strenuously for many years in different parts of the Island, to start an English School for Girls in the Parish of Bambalapitiya.

The Directress of Provincial Superior, Mother Celeste Marchall responded with great enthusiasm, and at her bidding came Sister Agnes Stouter to start a small school at “ Clock House ”, Lauries Road, Bambalapitiya. The number on the roll was 28. Sr. Agnes was joined shortly after by the Superior of the House – Mother St. Paul. Thus was laid the Foundation for this beautiful mission-oriented edifice of Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya, over 100 years ago, on February 3rd 1903.

Just 5 years from its humble beginnings, they were able to purchase a permanent residence “ Retreat Bungalow” extended over the years to situate the present building of Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya.

These first years from Feb. 3rd. 1903 to 1st. February 1908 serve as the most important period in the history of H.F.C Bambalapitiya …. It was the period when the seed was sown- to grow, bloom and bear fruit in the years to come-rooted firmly in the Spirit of God Alone following closely in the foot steps traced out by our Founder the Ven. P. B. Noailles

The date chosen for the foundation was not a mere coincidence. Rev. Mother Celeste Marchall spent her life laboriously to establish Holy Family Convent from Anuradhapura to Puttalam in the North, right down to Galkissa in the South. She thus founded more than 40 Convents specifically for the poor, the neglected among the lower strata of society. Starting at Bambalapitiya made a difference…. It was an urban area – more developed than the other Convents she founded.

The memory of the Miraculous Benediction given to the Holy Family Sisters in Bordeaux – France 3rd February 1822, almost at the birth of our Religious Family, is a tremendous source of vitality and missionary dynamism. Let us recall the experience of the first Holy Family Community who witnessed the Miraculous Apparition of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. This Venerable ecclesiastic went there at 4.30p.m., and scarcely had he exposed that Blessed Sacrament on the alter when the Sacred Species moved slightly and the bust and head of Our Lord, surrounded by a brilliant halo clearly seen.

Amongst the people present, some were absorbed in deep contemplation, others wept tears of joy, love and gratitude: several could not contain their sentiments of fervour.

It was Rev. Mother Leonide – “who having spent 27 years as a Missionary in South Africa came to Ceylon full of enthusiasm to cultivate this portion of the Lord’s vineyard.” It was she who designed and planned the chapel – the centrepiece of the whole edifice – with such artistic taste. It was completed in 1933, and the round stained glass right at the centre top, bears the image of Jesus as he appeared on that glorious day on Feb. 3rd. 1822. Milestones at HFC 1903.Clock House first School House in Lauries Road.Mother St.Paul arrives to take over the work.

1905.Rest at last!The House Called”The Retreat” was rented for the community who taught in the Park House School.

1906.Mother St.Suzanne appointed Superior.

1907.Retreat House was bought and school conducted there in three stables!

1908.mother Mary of Jesus arrived from England to be the Headmistress.

1909.The first building-four classrooms built for the school and blessed by Archbishop Coudert,O.M.I.

1912.Mother Gonzaga arrived to take charge of Music lessons,Singing and Kindergarten School.Rev.Mother Sebastian appointed Superior.

1913.First pupils passed the Senior Cambridge Examination.

1918.Science now forms a regular part of the school Curriculum.A special Science Room built.

1920.Building of a new wing for Kindergarten School.Anew Dormitory for Boarders added.

1924.”Refreshing Breezes” our first school Magazine .

1925.Opening of the new Refectory for the Boarders and purchase of a house popularly known as Moorman’s House, for classes.Tennis court opened and a club formed for play.Rev.Mother Rose De Lima appointed superior.

1927.The first public Prize Distribution.Lady Clifford wife of the then Governor presided and gave away the prizes.She was an old pupil of Holy Family Convent in south Africa.Pat pupils’ association meets June 1st to discuss the ways and means of celebrating the Silver Jubilee of Foundation.

1928.Silver Jubilee Celebrations February 15th, 16th and 17th. A block of classrooms built over the first school building to house 5 classes.

1934.The Past Pupils’ Association formally reorganised-a Constitution formulated. Mother Mary of Jesus retires as Principal.

1939.Approval for school to start Intermediate classes and prepare for Entrance to the University.

1942.War conditions. School taken for use as a Military Hospital.Children evacuated to Burulapitiya. ‘Homesdale” and “Cherrydale” house the Lower School in Bambalapitiya.

1946.School returns to the old buildings. The Military Hospital closed. Urgent demand for Higher Science Facilities. Rev.Mother Gonzaga appointed superior.

1948. ‘City of Laughter’Carnival in Aid of Science Laboratories.

1953.The Golden Jubilee.Grand Fair and Fete.

1955.School changes to three language groups up to 9th Grade. First visit of the Superioress General to Ceylon,Very Reverend Mother Claire de Jesus.

1958.A Lourdes Centenary Festival presented by the school in the Lionel Wendt Theatre.

1960.Our first Sinhalese full length Drama “Ramayana’.

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