With one thing and another happening during the Christmas season this year, what with COVID-19 and restrictions, the 18th of December passed without the installment of the Notable Peterites being published. We apologise to our fans for that miss.

With our apology tendered and with a promise not to miss deadlines where future publications are concerned, our publication today is about the the first Peterite Priest (the only full term Peterite), to be elevated to the rank of Bishop.

Having covered the pioneering Rectors – the founder, the first, the longest serving and the first Peterite – to head this august institute, last month we started our publications on the alumni and being a Catholic school the first among the alumni to be covered was a martyr for his faith, whose cause for Sainthood has been initiated by the OMI community.

Today we would like to make mention of the first Peterite to be elevated to episcopal heights, Rt. Rev. Dr. Henry Swithin Thomas Alexander Joy Goonewardena.

Despite his rather long name, he was affectionately known simply as Fr. Joy or Bishop Joy. Bishop Joy was born on 15th July 1925 to a family of 2 brothers and 2 sisters. He had his entire education at St. Peter’s College and upon completion of his school education at College he entered the OMI Novitiate on 1st September 1944. 

He was ordained a priest of God on the16th of March 1951 and young Fr. Joy’s first appointment was to the OMI Novitiate at Nugegoda. He then went on to serve Borella and Rajagiriya parishes and then St. Vincent’s Home in Maggona. Fr. Joy also served the difficult parishes of Nikaveratiya and Anamaduwa in the Chilaw Diocese at the request of the then Chilaw Bishop, Dr. Frank Marcus Fernando and in 1974 went to serve the Anuradhapura parish. He was subsequently appointed the Vicar General and in 1975 as Prefect Apostolic.

With the creation of the diocese of Anuradhapura he was elevated as the first Bishop of the new Diocese of Anuradhapura on 10th July 1982, just 5 days short of his 57th birthday.

A true servant in the vineyard of the Lord, Bishop Joy continued to be the simple man of God and as Bishop built up the Anuradhapura diocese amidst difficulties, hardships and challenges. Even as Bishop he visited the faithful in remote hamlets strengthening the faith of the parishioners obtaining the help of Rev. Sisters and catechists as priests were not available.

He also served the National Catholic Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue as its Chairman.

Despite his busy schedules, he found time to be at his alma mater after being ordained Bishop and visited College on 29th July 1982.

Not blessed with the best of health he relinquished his episcopal duties in 1999 and on 17th April 2000,  Bishop Joy answered the call of God.

Algi Wijewickrema 

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