The 9th of March 2021 is yet another historical day to the Convent of Our Lady of Victories, Moratuwa, the lady who stands by the murmuring ocean as she commemorates 135 years of excellence. Hidden among the thick foliage of the coconut trees, stands the Convent in all its grandeur. Far back in 1884, the thought of establishing a Catholic Girls’ School first germinated in the mind of Fr. Dominic Pulicani (O.M.I), the first priest of the Propaganda in Charge of Moratuwa. But his efforts to obtain nuns became fruitless and he passed his project on to his successor, Fr. Thomas Guglielmi (O.M.I) who went to the Bishop, Mgr. Bonjean readily approved of the idea and gave the promise of bringing nuns of a teaching order.
As a consequence, on the 9th day of March 1886, a large crowd was assembled at the Moratuwa Station to welcome Mgr. Bonjean, his Vicar, seven priests, and eleven Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. The road leading from the St. Sebastian’s Church to the Convent of Our Lady of Victories was adorned with flags, ferns, and coconut leaves. The F.M.M. nuns were deeply moved by this magnificent reception. With the establishment of the Convent of Our Lady of Victories, the people were elated to witness their hopes becoming a reality.
Mother Mary of St. Philip was appointed as the first principal of the Convent and two young teachers namely, Miss. E. Armstrong from Europe and Miss. Florence Paice from the Nazareth Convent came to assist the sisters. At first, only nine pupils came to school, the daughters of those who had taken pains to build the convent. The first-ever pupil was Miss Rosalin de Silva. On the 24th of May, 1892, the English School was formally registered thus qualifying for the Government grant. From this year onwards, the numbers increased until, in 1929, the pupils on the rolls were 425.
During the tenure of Mother Mary Philomena (1926- 1950), the Staff was widened and Sinhala was made the Second language in the curriculum instead of French. During the Second World War, the parents withdrew their children in fear but the school was able to face such challenges successfully because of the contribution of the nuns. In 1948, the two-story Post-Primary School building was built with a large hall and convenient stage upstairs and classrooms on the ground floor, including provision for the new A/L Science class.
The new Primary School section emerged in 1950 on the occasion of Mother Mary Philomena’s Golden Jubilee. At the end of the year, Mother Mary Philomena retired and Sr. Frances Monks was appointed as the Principal and during her, incumbency Sinhala was introduced as the medium of instruction. In 1968, a new era began with the designation of Sr. Benita Fernando, a Past Pupil of the school as the Principal. She became the first Sri Lankan Principal. In 1981, Sr. Henrietta de Silva, another Past Pupil took over duties as the Principal and Miss. Siri Silva was officially named as the first lay Vice-Principal.
Sr. Shirley de Silva was appointed as the principal in 1984 and she was the third past pupil to hold this position. At that time, the student population rose to 1435. A new building was constructed to mark the centenary year. The Centenary Celebrations took place on a grand scale under the guidance of Sr. Shirley de Silva and the Vice Principal Sr. Bridget Jayasooriya. The year 2006, brought in another change when Sr. Chamaline Perera became the Principal and during her tenure of 10 years, she formed the School Development Society to build relations with parents and the outside world.
She was also instrumental in the mammoth task of building the Gymnasium. The Vice-Principal at that time was Mrs. Jacintha Cooray. In January 2007, the fourth Past Pupil, Sr. Sujeeva Nonis took oaths as the Principal, and Sr. Priyantha Mudalige was appointed as the Vice-Principal. In 2008, the buildings of the Jeevani Convent were amalgamated to the development of the school.125th Jubilee Celebrations of the school took place in 2011 in great pomp. The staff consists of 115 teachers who are dedicated to improving the education and the moral conduct of over 2200 students.
The objective of our school is to give the students a deep spiritual formation highlighting the school Motto; ‘By Truth to Charity.’ Convent of Our Lady of Victories continues to uplift the values in students to mold them in a strong religious environment to be builders of a God-fearing society, inculcating the positive attitudes of peace and solidarity with the poor and the needy which is a necessity today. Special attention is given to religious formation through daily prayers, the liturgy of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the preparation for the First Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Confirmation.
The school also encourages students to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities and win awards at National and International level competitions. In order to ensure smooth functioning of academic and development activities and to manage day to day functions the Deputy Principal, Sr. Umeshika Gayani, the Vice Principals, Sr. Chamaline Perera, Mrs. Sriyani de Silva, and Mrs.Anukshie Dissanayake, the sectional heads and subject coordinators carry out the responsibilities assigned to them. All the teachers are dedicated and well qualified with a wide range of experience.
All the teachers work with a commitment towards the school. We try to create an environment where students will be able to realize their dreams and aspirations and become good citizens of Sri Lanka. As the school celebrates 135 years of excellence in the field of education, it is our fervent wish that the Convent of Our Lady of Victories may continue to illuminate the lives of many more students, and may it grow by leaps and bounds to be a fruitful tree that will nurture many a saplings. In 1940, land adjoining the school was purchased in order to accommodate part of the school and more on the north side of the compound for a Primary School. Classes were temporarily housed in a small two-story building.
Reorganization of the ‘Old Girls’ Association’ into the ‘Past Pupils’ Association is another significant event that took place during the tenure of Mother Mary Philomena. In 1945, G.C.E. Advanced level classes were started and in addition, Drama gained popularity with music and dancing thus some dramas were staged repeatedly in Colombo halls on request. The Present Principal, Sr. Chamila Ann Fernando was appointed as the 11th Principal in 2017. She refurbished the Main Hall, the Post Primary, and the Office buildings. She also introduced smart classrooms and the Learner Management System which is a timely move due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
The journey continues……..
Mrs.Ranusha Fernando (Member of the Staff)