Ever diligent and versatile
I am writing this appreciation in memory of Aurasie Weerasinghe, an Aunt that not only I, but our entire family, is indebted to, for her help in numerous ways that we recall with immense gratefulness.
The Buddha said that gratitude is one of the finest qualities a human being could have, and also one difficult to practice.
She lived for 85 years and passed away last month. Aunty Aurasie, affectionately called 'Nandi', was someone hard to forget with her sterling stature and intellectually-driven milestones. She was a pillar of strength to my Uncle Ally Weerasinghe, and helped him succeed in his business. She also took good care of her children; Asanga, Avi, Amanda, and Ashanee; helping them excel in their chosen fields.
I remember closely watching my Uncle and Aunt in my younger days, aspiring to become like them, living in style while we were given a glimpse of their action periodically; emerging from our boarding schools, staying with them, which, to us, at the time, was like a few days in heaven.
I remember her impressive and versatile organisational skills. She entertained a wide circle of friends and business associates, and also attended to children unfailingly; caring and sharing, treating us all equally.
She, like most mothers, was seen as the head of facilitation, making things happen and giving direction in her inimitable style. She treated the domestic staff with much care and helped them rebuild their lives silently. As the saying goes, the true measure of a person is how one treats someone who cannot return the favour.
I can never forget how concerned she was when the Tsunami struck our village in Seenigama, helping me get through many difficult circumstances, especially in comforting the traumatised villagers through her leadership role in 'Sumithrayo'.
Seeing both my mother and aunt interact the way they did, being sisters-in-law was an example that was such a highlight resulting in our two families demonstrating much goodwill in our close association. In my attempt to recall memorable moments of our Aunt Aurasie that are ingrained in me, I wanted to pay a tribute since gratitude is the best attitude.
All of us will no doubt face the inevitable demise as we received a death sentence the day we are born, but never know when and how. That said, it is our duty to not forget those who have touched our lives, to acknowledge in grateful remembrance when their time has expired.
May my Aunt's good deeds benefit her Sansaric journey of karmic life, to attain Enlightenment.
Rev. Bro. Philip
Steadfast Lasallian Brother
Rev. Bro. Philip passed away on January 3 at the Diyagala Boys’ Town in Ragama. One could see the late Rev. Brother as a legend and a saint as his devotion and loyalty to the Catholic Church was unwavering.
Rev. Bro. Philip, or Samgapala Arachchige Don Benjamin, was born on May 23, 1934, at Kurukulawa, Ragama. He was the fourth child in a family of 9 children. His parents were S.D. Philip Appuhamy and Welbina Jayawardena.
The Rev. Brother received his early education at the Kurukulawa Roman Catholic School. When World War II was yet to end, he attended Puwakpitiya Maha Vidyalaya (from 1944 to 1945). He then started his secondary education at De Mazenod College, when Rev. Bro. Cashmere was its Principle. It was Rev. Bro. Cassian who recruited him to the school on January 8, 1950.
He was later selected to go to Penang with 12 others, in 1954, after completing his Junior School Certificate (JSC) at De La Salle College. There, he trained under Rev. Bro. Thomas Alphonsus from 1954 to 1956, and within that period, completed his Ordinary and Advanced Level syllabi. In 1957, he was selected to follow the Agriculture Course at the Peradenya University and later joined De Mazenod College as an Assistant Teacher.
In 1963, the Rev. Brother joined the Diyagala Boys’ Town (DBT) as a Teacher and, from 1964 to 1971, worked as an Instructor and Director of Agro-management. After working for 12 years at Diyagala Boys' Towns, he was awarded a scholarship for higher studies in UK (from 1971 to 1974), and completed BSc. in Bio-Science from University of Bold, UK.
He obtained a Rural Extension Certificate from the Netherlands University in 1988, and was later appointed to St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa. From 1989 to 1994, Rev. Bro. Philip was the Director of St. Benedict’s College, Colombo 13, before retiring on May 22, 1994, at the age of 60.
Thereafter, he joined the Lasallian Education Services and followed ISFA courses. He also obtained an MA in Education. He later went back to Diyagala Boy’s Town and worked as an Advisor to the Managing Director, as well as a Senior Counsellor.
Rev. Bro. Philip was once the President of the Gampaha District Basketball Association, and also a member of the Sri Lanka Basketball Federation Executive Committee. He was also once the Vice-President of the Basketball Federation.
The Rev. Brother served in many a mission, leaving his mark everywhere.
Lives of great men reminds us,
We must make our lives sublime
And when passing, leave behind us,
Footprints on the sands of time
Rev. Bro. Philip was a trailblazer of Diyagala Boy’s Town, as a Co-founder and a close associate of Rev. Bro. Hermingild Joseph, who founded the Diyagala Boy’s Town to propagate Lasallian Ideology.
May Rev. Bro. Philip rest in peace!