Beginning -1854, The Roman Catholic Church had established itself in the maritime areas from 1505. In 1820, the superior of all the Oratorians in Ceylon, Vincent de Rozairo, himself came as the first missionary to Kandy. He put up a church, which occupied the very same grounds whereon the present Scots Kirk stands. In 1828, the Scots Kirk site was found to be too small and hilly and accordingly a petition was submitted to the Governor-General Sir Edward Barnes who promptly presented the Catholic Church with a new site. It was roughly a square 152 ft. by 150 ft. upon which the second Roman Catholic Church was built. This is the very same site on which St. Anthony’s Cathedral stands today. It was realized that building churches alone would not contribute to the success of the missionary efforts that commenced in 1820.
In September 1843, an Italian Oratorian, Fr. Orazio Bettacchini was sent to the Kandyan mission who, during his missionary year 1843/44, opened a school in Kandy on the same premises. However, in August 1844, his successor Fr. Andrew J. Reinaud, who continued as missionary until 1848, began his missionary career by pulling down the school, which Fr. Bettacchini had put up. This was the subject of a letter of complaint made by Fr. Bettacchini himself.
Yet, it was not until November 1853, when Fr. Felice Zoppi, a Franciscan from the Chinese missionary field was sent to Kandy by Monsignor Joseph Maria Bravi OSB, that Fr. Bettacchini’s complaint was looked into. Fr. Zoppi promptly set about his task by opening a school for boys and one for girls at the house where he resided, in January of 1854, with a Mr. Van Twest as Head Teacher of the Boys School.
This was the birth of St. Anthony’s College. Soon after which, Fr. Zoppi obediently sent word to Mgr. Bravi through Fr. Leone Cingolani, informing him of his success in opening the schools. But the message was never delivered and Fr. Zoppi subsequently wrote to Mgr. Bravi who replied on 12th March 1854, officially acknowledging the opening of both schools, at the present premises of St. Anthony’s Cathedral.
Although it is said that; Fr. Zoppi, being a Franciscan, chose to name the school after their illustrious Saint, there is also evidence that the Church had been dedicated to St. Anthony at a much earlier date. The number of students on roll at the inception was 62 boys and 28 girls. The Girls School was shifted to Katukelle in 1887, where a Convent was opened for Good Shepherd Nuns.
Mr. Paul Poorey took over the administration of the Boys School from Mr. Van Twest in 1855, contributing immensely to the efficiency and prestige the school enjoyed in its formative years. Fr. Zoppi left the country at the end of September 1856. In the absence of sufficient missionaries to take over the school, which was then a parish school, a succession of laymen in; M/s. F. Peiris, F. De Silva, K.A. Fernando, A. Staples, A.B. Geddes and O.D. Paul, carried on the administration until 1870. In 1867, St. Anthony’s Boys’ School was referred as the ‘second best school in English’ among all the schools established by the Missionaries.R_P_Jansz In 1870, the Irish Christian Brothers John and Paul took over the administration, temporarily. In 1871, the school was run by Mr. W. Hopp, who managed affairs until 1872 and handed the administration over to Mr. J. Jorden, who held the reigns until 1875 when Fr. Dom Hildebrand Vanderstraaten OSB was installed as Principal, marking the entrusting of the administration and management of the school to the Benedictine monks, who erected the Abbey of St. Anthony’s in Kandy in 1874. Fr. D. Paul Perera O.S.B succeeded Fr. Vanderstraaten in 1876, in which year it is recorded that boarding life was first introduced, and in 1877 handed over to Fr. D.M. Craner, until 1879. In that year, due to the scarcity of missionaries, secular teachers managed the school with Mr. R.P. Jansz as Head Master from 1880 to 1892, working in harmony with the Benedictine Fathers over a period of twelve years during which time the school made very good progress. The student population by 1887 had grown to 92; 5 of whom were boarders. St. Anthony’s Cathedral was built in 1876 on the initiative of Fr. Gingolani. Upon Mr. Jansz’s retirement in 1892, the Benedictines appointed Fr. Hilarian Leitan OSB, who had only been ordained a priest in December 1891, as Principal. He continued for a period of six years until 1898.
Fr. Leitan was the first, of an unbroken line of OSB Priest-Principals of the College, to date. During his six years in office, he had the services of a few other Benedictine monks – Dom Hildebrand Georgesz, Dom Patrick Mckelvie, Dom Dominic Direckze and for a short term, a Benedictine Father from Scotland, Rev. Ryan whose brothers were in charge of tea plantations. In 1894 the premises known as “Philips Coffee Store”, now a part of St. Sylvester’s College was purchased by Abbot Pancrazi for the school. St. Anthony’s had no playing field then. The use of “Barrack Square” was secured in 1898, for the boys to practice sport.
In January 1899, Fr. Maurus Craner OSB relieved Fr. Leitan as Principal of St. Anthony’s. All aspects of higher education were included in the curriculum, that year. In the early days of Fr. Craner’s stewardship, there were about fifteen boarders housed in a room under the belfry. Capitalizing on the new extent of land available, he put up buildings including more space to house the boarders, which soon grew to number about fifty. Fr. Craner was a workaholic, and only slept for about four hours a day, in order to perform his duties as Principal, Teacher, Prefect of Boarders, Accountant, Clerk – all rolled in one. Cricket was introduced by Fr. Andrew Vanlangenberg OSB in 1903, and a team known as ‘St. Anthony’s College Cricket Club’ consisting of staff and school boys was formed under the captaincy of Fr. Andrew himself. The inaugural match was played in Colombo versus Colombo Carlton Cricket Club.
The completion of the first fifty years was marked by the first ever schools cricket match involving St. Anthony’s, which was played in 1904, against Dharmaraja College, with a 109-run victory for the Antonians.
>In the year 1906, Fr. Craner was made to relinquish the post of Principal, which he did with a deep sense of sadness, but with a feeling of discipline and obedience, as his services were needed elsewhere. He had already groomed his successor, Fr. D. Philip Caspersz OSB who was already a member of the teaching staff. After Fr. Caspersz assumed duties as Principal, his brother, Fr. James came in as Boarding Prefect. These two brothers, in a comparatively short time changed the status of the school, making it a College. On 20th of December 1907, the Annual Distribution of Prizes was held for the first time on a grand scale. The Rt. Revd. Dr. C. Pagnani OSB – Bishop of Kandy was the Chief Guest, and along with Fr. D.A. Pancrazi OSB, he distributed 100 prizes amongst a total student population of 275. The ceremony was held in what was called the “Big College Hall” measuring 100′ x 27′. The programme opened with a rendering of the chorus ‘Over the Hill’ by the College Choir and ended with chanting of the ‘Papal Hymn’ and National Anthem. ‘Electricity & Magnetism’ was introduced as a subject of the ‘Cambridge Classes’ in this year.
Along with Fr. Van Langenberg who was prefect of games, Fr. Philip would spend most evenings encouraging and cheering on his students on the playing field at Barrack Square. The ‘Cricket, Hockey & Football Club’ (CH&FC) was formed to promote sports at College. St. Anthony’s became the first College to play Hockey, in the year 1907. 17 matches were played with 10 of them won, 4 lost and 3 drawn. Amongst the opposition teams were the likes of Indian Rajput Regiment, Colombo Municipality and Bloomfield. Two Football matches were played, winning one and drawing one and five Cricket matches were played winning four and drawing one. The first ‘Trinity-Antonian’ cricket encounter was played in that same year, with the Antonians emerging winners by 14 runs. The irony of it all was that we lost the use of Barrack Square in that year, when debarred by the Military authorities. However, in 1908 the Kandy Municipal Council granted exclusive use of the Reclamation Grounds for College sports.
The roll of students increased to 300 in 1908. Two pupils secured passes in Senior Division and five in Junior Division ‘Cambridge’ exams. ‘Physiology & Hygiene’ was introduced as a subject of the ‘Cambridge Classes’. Athletics began to feature prominently in the sports arena, with two Antonian students; D. Vincent Silva and P.M. John, securing first places in the highest class of the Flat Race and the High Jump respectively, in the annual ‘Empire Day’ celebrations held in Kandy on the 2nd of May 1908. The College Sports meet was held on 4th December 1908 with a list of events described as follows ; Flat Races, Putting the Shot, Throwing the Cricket Ball, Kicking the Football, Long Jump, Three-legged Race, High Jump, Hockey Dribbling, Egg & Spoon Race, Hurdle Race, Bun-Eating Competition, Quarter Mile Race, Chattie Race, Obstacle Race, Zoo Race and a Thread & Needle Race for Old Boys.Red Brick
The first ever College publication was released as “St. Anthony’s Manual”, in 1908, featuring 53 pages of articles and comprehensive reports on all activities of the college. The old red building near the Bishop’s Palace was soon replaced by new buildings that came up in quick succession in the area of the coffee store and the old cemetery.
The year 1909, ended in sadness for the whole school and most of Kandy, when College was robbed of one of its most promising pupils; the little 12-year-old Charlie Hamilton, who had represented the College First XI Teams in Cricket, Football and Hockey with some heroic performances in that year, before his untimely death on 5th of November. The newly equipped Physical Laboratory was specially dedicated to the memory of little Charlie Hamilton.
In 1910, Fr. Basil Hyde OSB, an old boy of the college who was a member of the staff, at the request of several old boys summoned a meeting on 26th of December 1910 at the College Hall, where the ‘First Annual General Meeting’ of ‘St. Anthony’s Old Boys’ Association’ was held.Very Rev. Fr. Bede Beeckmeyer was elected the first President of the Association proposed by Fr. Hyde himself. In 1912, when Fr. Beeckmeyer was consecrated ‘Bishop’, Fr. Basil Hyde succeeded him as President of the O.B.A. A total of 152 members had joined the association in its first two years. The first Branch of the O.B.A. was formed on 24thFebruary 1912 as the ‘Uva Branch’, with Rev. Fr. D.M.Craner OSB elected as President, at a meeting held at St. Mary’s, Badulla.Charlie Hamilton
In 1911, St. Anthony’s College played its first inter-collegiate Football match, beating Kingswood College by two goals to nil. Boxing was introduced to St. Anthony’s around 1914, at the same time that Royal, Wesley, Trinity and St. Thomas’ took to the sport. The first ever Boxing Tournament in the Island was conducted in 1914, for the ‘Stubbs Shield’, and St. Anthony’s was amongst the teams that participated.
Due to ill health, Fr. Philip Caspersz, who had been Principal for nearly a decade, was shifted to hibernate within the monastic walls of reclusion, and a younger man in the person of Fr. Basil Hyde, served as Principal during 1915, until a more permanent appointment was made.
In November 1915, at the close of Fr. Basil Hyde’s temporary tenure of office, Fr. James Caspersz OSB, whose association with the college began as Art Master before his ordination in 1906, was appointed Principal. He immediately engaged in the expansion of the College by meeting the long felt need for better and spacious accommodation. In October 1916 a new wing of the College was declared open by Mr. E.B.Denham, Director of Education, thus providing adequate laboratory facilities
Senior Division Boarders-1909 In November 1915, at the close of Fr. Basil Hyde’s temporary tenure of office, Fr. James Caspersz OSB, whose association with the college began as Art Master before his ordination in 1906, was appointed Principal. He immediately engaged in the expansion of the College by meeting the long felt need for better and spacious accommodation. In October 1916 a new wing of the College was declared open by Mr. E.B.Denham, Director of Education, thus providing adequate laboratory facilities for Chemistry and Physics. In 1917, the Department of Education officially recognized St. Anthony’s College as a ‘Fully Organized Secondary School’. An Infants Department for children aged 3-6 years was inaugurated.William gopallawaThe ‘Prize Giving Day’ was held on 15th December 1917, after a lapse of three years due the 1st world war, with the Honourable Chief Justice Sir Alex Wood Renton, presiding. Mr. William Gopallawa, the last Governor General of Ceylon and first President of Sri Lanka, was among the students who successfully completed the London Matriculation Examination during this year. The first telephone was installed in College during that year.
The highlight of his term of office was the College’s performance in the field of sport. Being a stouthearted sportsman himself, he chose to infuse in his lads the truest type of sporting spirit viz; Win or Lose it’s how you play the game that matters. Consequently, in Boxing (the straight lefts), Cricket (the record breaking Jack Anderson) and Cadetting (the De Soysa Cup), the College achieved success and recognition.
Jack Anderson However, for all the achievements of this era, the one that has stood the time-of-test is the individual score of 291 runs by the legendary Jack Anderson, in a match against St. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia, played at Colombo in 1918. This remains to date the highest individual score in school cricket. He also scored five centuries in five successive matches and was the first to score a century at what is now the International Cricket Stadium at Asgiriya, besides also being the first to score a century against St. Thomas’. In Boxing, St. Anthony’s who were runners-up in the much coveted Stubbs’ Shield Competition on two previous occasions, won the trophy for the first time in 1918.Thanks to the likes of Robert Wright, L.V. Jayaweera, N.H. Keerthiratne and the many other Boxers produced during this era, the Antonians remained a formidable force through the 1920’s. Though Cadetting had been introduced to St. Anthony’s in 1912, it was not until 1916/1917 that our Cadets were able to make an impression at the annual Inter-School Cadet Competitions in Colombo, for the handsome ‘De Soysa Cup’.
In May 1921, Fr. D. Lawrence Hyde OSB succeeded Fr. James Caspersz as Principal of St. Anthony’s, and his administration reflected the energizing spirit of his strong personality, to open new vistas in the history of the College. By this time the premises next to the Cathedral had been fully developed with the student population topping one thousand. Several representations were made for the transfer of St. Anthony’s from the cramped precincts to more spacious grounds, but to no avail. Finally, it was in 1927 that Bishop Bede Beeckmeyer, an old Antonian himself, purchased the old ‘Dunuwille Walauwa’, the present premises. The site was eminently suitable and the beauty of the surrounding scenery certainly enhanced it. The river, all along one side of the site, views of Hunnasgiriya and Hantane on two sides and wide stretches of smiling open country on all sides.
The plague hit Kandy by the end of 1927 and Fr. Hyde obtained the Bishop’s permission to shift at least the junior boarders out of Kandy to Katugastota. The renovating and reconditioning of the new premises thus began in November 1927. A mass of kitchens and stables had to be turned into dormitories, dining halls and common rooms. With drains all around, outer walls had to be bound to the grounds, the inner walls removed and replaced by pillars and the roof supported by trusses – a combined feat of engineering no modern engineer would attempt. Thanks to Bro. Lysons and the lab-boy William, water service was installed and Titus lamps provided the lighting. The classes were housed in a shed made of coconut pillars, mango rafters, corrugated iron roof and wattle-and-daub dwarf wallsBishop Bede
On 16th January 1928, the junior boarders were installed at Katugastota with a solemn planting of trees to commemorate the event. The verandah of the old walauwa served as a chapel. Odds and ends served as an altar until one was made on 29th January and the place was consecrated to the sacred heart of Jesus. Fr. Principal himself occupied a room between the kindergarten and the study hall.
Fr. Lawrence Hyde built a formidable team of pioneers – Mr. P.B.A.Weerakoon, Bro. Columban Macky, Bro. Joseph, Bro. Lysons and Bro. Timothy – to set about his vision of transformation that today seems unbelievable. Fr. D.D. Barsenbach OSB who was appointed Director of Boarders in 1937 complemented this team. Classes were started for the boarders and others who cared to come over.
Two lads came all the way past the Kandy school to be in the temporary classes and to share in the spirit of the new St. Anthony’s College, which was rising phoenix-like out of the ashes of the old. During the first few years the school held classes for Kindergarten up to Cambridge Junior, with an approximate staff of around twelve, gradually increasing the range to the London Matriculation and an Inter-Arts form.
In 1929, Fr. Hyde had the first permanent set of open classrooms erected alongside the river, which today houses the primary school. It was here, that in 1934, St. Anthony’s obtained the best results in the British Empire with 100% passes in the London Matriculation Examination. Twelve candidates were presented for the Examination and all passed. Healthy rivalry was enjoyed by the Katugastota boys with their counterparts from the Kandy school in the matter of success at the Examinations, and more often than not, the Kandy youngsters had to congratulate the Katugastota lads on their performance.
The Boarding House-1924New Building Complex Rugby Team 1928 Rugby Team 1929
Even in the field of sports, the lads of Katugastota had the better of their counterparts from Kandy in cricket and athletics, first in the under 16 division and later in the 1st Division. From 1936 – 1938, more than half the 1st XI cricket team were from the Katugastota school. The boys from Katugastota belonged in those days to the Maroon House while those at Kandy were in the Light and Dark Blue Houses.
The first playing field at Katugastota was the narrow strip of ground near the entrance on which the present Centenary Hall stands. The old Walauwa too is no more. It lies buried under the earth of the present playground. The land around the old Walauwa was thick with cocoa and coconut trees, where cobras roamed. The boys themselves helped in mopping out operations and the planning and clearing of these areas for vegetable cultivation.
In 1935, Fr. Hyde completed the main building block of the school and its counterpart running parallel to it. They stand tall to this day to his credit. The hostellers, who had by then increased to about 150, had their dormitories upstairs in the main block while the Office; Hall, Library and Chapel were on the ground floor. The smaller section behind which then consisted of a single storey, contained dining rooms and some classrooms. The playing field too was gradually expanded to its present size, thanks to Fr. Van Reyk’s share in it. Fr. Robert Perera had the first Pavilion built at this time.
On the 1st of November 1941, the Kandy branch was officially separated from St. Anthony’s College, now well established at Katugastota, and a new school under the name of ‘St. Sylvester’s College’ was established with Fr. Robert Perera OSB as the first Principal.
During his record tenure of 23 years (1921 – 1943) as Principal of St. Anthony’s, Fr. Lawrence Hyde achieved spectacular triumphs in the academic field as well as in sports. On the eve of his career as Principal, World War II brought a dark period through the military occupation of the College. Throughout it all, Fr. Hyde’s spirit animated the skeleton that survived for four years in private houses and cadjan sheds into which she moved through compulsion. The total student population shrank to about 300 of which about 50 were boarders. Of all its Principals of the past, St. Anthony’s must be proud of Fr. Lawrence Hyde OSB; not only as it’s architect, but also for guiding with a sure hand it’s destinies through a period of 23 years of stress, strain and turmoil. His tenure as Principal remains the longest, to date.
Viscount Soulbury In 1944, Fr. Angelo Rosati became Principal, being nominated by Fr. Hyde to carry on the task he had begun in a manner that would raise the prestige of the College as an educational institution of high standards and also restore the reputation for sports, which had been sidelined for four years during military occupation of the College. When the release of the buildings and the playing field came around 1946, one of the first innovations conceived by Fr. Theophane Wickramaratne, who led the triumphal return of the boys to the premises, was the adoption of a cottage system for hostel accommodation. Fr. Theophane was also either instrumental or involved in the construction of many other College buildings such as “The Rainbow Cottages”, The Tuck Shop”, ” The Chapel”, “Mansion”‘ “Villa”, “Infirmary”, and “The Refectory”. Living in small groups, in separate cottages had not only provided a homely atmosphere but also promoted greater fellowship and understanding. Fr. Rosati immediately reconditioned several military huts into cosy, comfortable living quarters for the boarders and appointed school matrons to be in charge of the physical cleanliness of the boys and the sanitary features of each hostel block. This change had been so effectual in the achievement of greater performance both in work and play and led to a remarkable reduction of illness among the boarders.
During his sojourn on the Continent, England and the USA, Fr. Rosati was able to send sufficient apparatus to equip fully the Physics, Chemistry and Biology laboratories as well as the Geography room, raising the educational standards of the College on par with other leading schools of the Island. The student population grew to a near 1,600 with a teaching staff of 70, during this period. Classes were conducted in English, Sinhala and Tamil mediums for all subjects from Grade 1 to University Entrance.
TThe Antonian cricket teams of subsequent years, produced some of the most exciting school boy cricketers with young Wijepala Premaratne being adjudged the very first ‘All Ceylon School Boy Cricketer’ in the year 1956. St. Anthony’s College also introduced Rugby Football to its list of sports in 1956, with Bruce Winter captaining the first team.
The Centenary Hall was blessed by the Rt. Rev. Dom Bernard Cricket Team 1958 Regno, OSB, Bishop of Kandy and declared open by the Rt. Hon. Sir Oliver Goonetilleke, C.M.E. Governor General of Ceylon, on the 5th September 1957. On the 11th Fr. Hilarion Rudolph, a Graduate of the University of Oxford, came to St.Anthony’s as the Principal in 1957, having to succeed a Principal of the caliber of Fr.Rosati, whose early demise at the height of his career spread a veil of emotionalism in the college. He did good work for the school maintaining the high standards the College had already reached. In 1959, the Primary School and the Rainbow Cottages lost the services of an able leader in Fr. Leo Nanayakkara, who was ordained Bishop of Kandy.
In 1961, Fr. Rudolph handed over the reins to Fr. D. I. Robinson OSB, who was at the time Warden of the “Mansion” boarding and also Teacher of English. It was during this time that the school’s takeover was announced. After much heartburn, the government finally permitted the College to continue, but non-fee levying. This was a period of great hardship, overcome in large measure by the support of the old boys.
Ranjith Samarasekara Charlie Joseph Cyril Brown
Many were the instances when Fr. Robinson accompanied by Mr. Victor Perera, President of the O.B.A. and later Judge of the Supreme Court, had to visit Old boys, parents and well-wishers for donations to keep the College functioning. In spite of these adversities, studies and sports continued to maintain high standards during this time. The Island wide reputation St. Anthony’s enjoyed as a provider of top-drawer sportsmen was maintained with Charlie Joseph, a stylish batsman, being selected as ‘School Boy Cricketer’ for two consecutive years.
The College Choir, ably trained and led by Mr. Cyril Brown, also brought many trophies to the College mantle. Fr. Robinson also had the support of several other Benedictine Priests in Fr. Valentine, Fr. Thomas and Fr. Lanfranc, in running the Boarding, which by that time had attracted over 500 students from all parts of the Island, including a sizeable number from Colombo.
In 1967, an Old Antonian, Fr. Aidan de Silva OSB was appointed Principal in succession to Fr. Robinson. Hard-pressed by the restrictions imposed upon the College as a non-fee levying institution, he organized a donation of five years for each new admission to school, thus enabling an input of funds. Besides giving the school buildings a complete repair, he built the swimming pool, a new Math Laboratory and six modern classrooms. He organized the Colours Night on an annual basis commencing 1967 to honour the College sportsmen. Based on a suggestion made by Fr. Aidan, the President of the OBA, Mr. R. Victor Perera, launched a ‘Turf Pitch Fund’ with his own generous contribution of a Thousand Rupees, at the first Central Council meeting of the OBA after the Big Match of 1969. The Turf Pitch was completed, blessed by Rt. Rev. Lord Abbot Dom Pio Federici OSB and declared open on the 30th January 1970 with Fr. Aidan facing the first ball bowled by Mr. Victor Perera.1500m Event-1967 Sport meet
The College Swimming Pool was built during his time and St. Anthony’s also excelled in Basketball and Tennis, with College producing the best Tennis doubles pair among the schools. He was also instrumental in launching the Christmas Carols and Easter programmes which were much looked forward to events. During this period, the College Choir was invited to perform in a SLBC programme, which was an honour for any College Choir at that time. Fr. Aidan was also instrumental in recommencing the regular publication of ‘The Antonian’ magazine. Between the 50’s and the 70’s, St. Anthony’s College had a well-established hostel, with over 500 boarders, who came from all parts of the Island. They were spread among 14 cottage type dormitories, arranged in succession, according to age groups. The hostel was supported by a livestock farm, bakery and a fully equipped sickroom, to cater to the needs of the boarders. During this period, the kitchen and refectory at St. Anthony’s College was the envy of all visiting school teams, who, to this day, talk about the sumptuous meals they enjoyed at St. Anthony’s.
The unfortunate incident that took place in 1977 changed the identity / status of St. Anthony’s College Kandy, when the school was handed over to the government by the then Bishop of Kandy. In 1977, Fr. Aidan de Silva retired and Fr. Lanfranc Amerasinghe OSB, who was warden of hostels took over as the Principal. He had to struggle hard to keep the school running as a government institution. He emerged unscathed and handed over the reins of the college in 1979 to Fr. Stephen Abraham OSB who had to manage the school with limited resources. The hostel was run independent of the school, by the Benedictine Fathers, who also had the income generating sections – the hall, the swimming pool and the tuck shop – under their jurisdiction. This bifurcation made it difficult for the new Director-managed College to survive, minus all its wonted resources. The facility fees of Rs.5/- per student, was all it got.Rohan Wijesinghe
What Fr. Stephen did do under the circumstances was remarkable. His enthusiasm made Hon. R. Premadasa, Prime Minister at the time, donate a two-story block of classrooms, which forms one wing of the school and is called the “Premadasa Block”. Most of all, he earned the fullest cooperation of the old boys to support his bid to elevate the college as a most prestigious centre of education, not only in the central province but also in the country.
1981 was a memorable year for Antonian Cricket, when they beat Trinity in the Big Match for the very first time at the Asgiriya Ground, thus ending what was thought to be a jinx.
In 1982 the Colombo branch of the OBA undertook a gigantic task when, under the presidency of the then minister of Power and Energy, K. D. M. C. Bandara, they embarked on a project to develop an Indoor Sports and Pavilion Complex at the Katugastota grounds. However, with the communal troubles the country faced since 1983, raising funds became a difficult task up to about 1989. The project, named “Bishop Leo Nanayakkara Sports and Pavilion Complex”, was planned in three stages. The first stage consisting of a gymnasium, badminton and table tennis courts was finally completed in 1991 with the help of funds collected by the old boys and Fr. Stephen Abraham. In March 1992 this Sports Complex was officially opened by Mr. K.D.M.C. Bandara and handed over for use by the College.
The ‘College Diary’ was re-introduced in 1987 after a lapse of several years, and has continued to be published annually, ever since, making available the yearly plans of College to the Antonian community. A Public Address system was installed in 1988, effectively enhancing better communication within the vast area of College.
he second stage of the project, which consisted of accommodation for visiting teams, a sports pavilion and public stands was named “Jack Anderson Pavilion” after the legendary Antonian cricketer. Fund raising for this stage was spearheaded by Fr. Stephen Abraham and Minister K. D. M. C Bandara. A total sum of around 4 million Rupees was raised in a very short time through donations from parents, old boys, well-wishers and fund raising events such as ‘Dances’ and ‘Coffee Mornings’ in Colombo and a carnival in Kandy. This effort enabled the building to take a shell-shape within a period of just four months and was opened by Rev. Fr. Stephen Abraham in March 1993 to commemorate the 75thyear of Jack Anderson’s unbroken record of 291 runs in a school match against St. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia. Finishing touches were completed on this building in 1993, and has since, been used by the College as its main Pavilion. Work on the third and final stage of the complex commenced in 1994.Cricket team-1991
Fr. Stephen Abraham displayed his strength in standing up fearlessly for the principles he believed in, when during the 1988/89 southern revolution, St. Anthony’s College became the only government school that did not walk out to revolutionary demands.
Other highlights of his stewardship were the Grand School Exhibition in 1979 to mark 125 years of the school’s existence (1854-1979), which was graced by President J.R. Jayawardena and celebration of 100 continuous years of Benedictine Monks as Principals (1892-1992). On the latter occasion portraits of all past Principals were unveiled in the hall by distinguished persons and thanks offered to God for the innumerable blessings bestowed on the school through the celebration of a special Holy Mass at which the Archbishop of Colombo and the Bishop of Kandy participated.
In 1989 Fr. Stephen Abraham celebrated his Sacerdotal Silver Jubilee (25 years of Priesthood) by building 25 houses for the minor staff naming the complex “Anthony Gammana” which is a model-housing scheme. His versatility helped the school to achieve high standards of performance in sports such as cricket, rugby, etc. while upholding the traditional excellence in studies for which the College has been well known.
The Department of Education in recognition of the success St. Anthony’s had achieved under Fr. Stephen Abraham, approved the construction of a new three-storey of buildings at a cost of 8 million rupees, in 1994.Priyantha Ekanayake
Fr. Abraham, being a firm believer that true character of students could be judged and developed on the playing field and not in the classroom, dedicated much of his time to the numerous sporting activities at college. His encouragement of sports paid rich dividends, particularly in the success the College enjoyed in Cricket, Rugby, Badminton and Table Tennis during the late eighties and early nineties. Many Antonian sportsmen of that era went on to represent National teams, with two in particular, receiving international acclaim. Priyantha Ekanayake who captained the Sri Lanka Rugby Football team for a record ten years, with much success, continues to play a leading role as an administrator and coach at national level. The other of course, is the World’s Best Off-Spin Bowler in cricket; Muttiah Muralitharan, who became the highest wicket taker in one day international cricket and in test cricket by breaking Shane Warns world record of 708 wickets
The early and mid nineteen-nineties were some of the best years for sports at St. Anthony’s College. The Cricketers won three major awards at the ‘Island/Pure Beverages’ and six major awards at the ‘Bata/Observer’ competitions in 1990. Muttiah Muralitharan – “Best Schoolboy Cricketer of the year” & “Best Bowler”, Nuwan Kalpage – “Best Captain”, and Sajith Fernando – “Best Batsman” were among them. Sajith Fernando was also selected the “Best All-Rounder” at the ‘Bata/Observer’ ratings in 1991. The greatest moment however was in 1993, when three Antonians; Ruwan Kalpage, Muttiah Muralitharan and Piyal Wijetunge were selected to play for Sri Lanka in the first Test Match against South Africa. A fourth Antonian; Sajith Fernando was also in the reckoning but sadly missed out. Mahesh Gunatilleke, Bernard Perera and Marlon Von Haght were the other Antonians to have represented Sri Lanka at Test Cricket in the nineteen-eighties.Muralidaran
The Paddlers, spearheaded by Christopher Arnolda & Umesh de Alwis brought much fame to College. Arnolda was seeded No: 1 and Alwis No: 5 at National level, and both went on to represent Sri Lanka in later years.
The Shuttlers dominated the local schools Badminton tournaments through most of the last decade of the century, with as many as ten Antonians winning National Titles.
The Ruggerites continued to hold their own against top Rugby Schools, and was a major feeder of quality ruggerites to the local club teams in Kandy & Colombo, with many Antonians going on to represent the Country. The Old Antonians Rugby Football Club has been a major support base ever since their inauguration in the early nineteen-nineties.
Having served as Principal for sixteen long years (1979 – 1994), Fr. Stephen Abraham retired, content with what he had achieved for St. Anthony’s College Kandy. He was the second longest serving Principal, next to Fr. Lawrence Hyde.
Fr. Hilarion Fernando OSB succeeded Fr. Stephen Abraham in April 1994, and completed ten years in the seat on the auspicious occasion of the Sesquicentennial of College. He is also the fifteenth member of the ‘Sylvestro Benedictine Order’ (OSB) to hold the post, in 112 years. Prior to his appointment as Principal, Fr. Hilarion served as Warden of Hostels from 1983 – 1991, and as Head Master of the Primary Department from 1990 – 1994.
The Old Boys Association Parent Body and Colombo Branch jointly organized a Gala Dinner at the Hotel Suisse – Kandy, on 5th November 1994, to bid farewell to Fr. Stephen Abraham and to welcome Fr. Hilarion Fernando.
The OBA (Colombo Branch) published a directory of Old Antonians, titled “Antonian Connection”, in 1994. This spiral bound publication was not only a first for Antonians, but also the first of its kind among all schools.
The College Council inaugurated in 1972, functioned continuously as the supreme body of decision making on matters pertaining to College within the frame of rules and regulations of the Department of Education. The Council consists of twelve members at present, headed by Rev. Fr. Principal and including Prefect of Discipline, Prefect of Games, Sectional Heads and Staff Guild President. The Sports Council, which was formed subsequently, continues to govern on all matters relating to sports. Headed by Rev. Fr. Principal, the Council consists of Masters in Charge and Coaches of each sport.Bishop Leo Nanayakka Sports & Pavillion Complex
The third and final stage of the “Bishop Leo Nanayakkara Sports and Pavilion Complex”, was completed in 2000, with the Badminton Courts within the complex being upgraded with Air-cushioned flooring in 1999, to accommodate National Tournaments.
The three storeyed block in the upper school was completed in 2001. The “Sesquicentennial Block” of classrooms in the quadrangular was completed with the assistance of parents of the upper school, in 2003. The Primary section too received a new block of four classrooms and a computer laboratory in 2002. Computers and related equipment for the laboratory were obtained through funds collected by parents of the Primary section. A new ‘Jubilee Building’ was constructed for the Primary in 2003, through the collective efforts of the parents.New Three Story Building
The student population averaged 2,700, with 2100 in the Sinhala Medium and 600 in the Tamil Medium. The Academic Staff progressively increased with development of curriculum.
High standards were maintained in National Examinations with an increase in passes at the G.C.E. (O/L), in Sinhala medium, as well as in Tamil medium. Both mediums have also recorded rapid increases at the G.C.E. (A/L) examinations. Antonian Undergraduates at the Peradeniya University alone, counted over 150 in all Faculties, in 2003.