“A fragrant rose fades away – only to bloom in heaven.”
Joyce Perera, or Miss Joyce, as she was known to many, was an icon in and around the parish of St. Anne’s Girls’ School, Wattala. She was known for her beautiful, nightingale voice, and sang with the church choir for more than 50 years. Her solo rendition of Gounod’s “Ave Maria” made her famous. She was in great demand at weddings, and sang at the weddings of all her children.
She started her teaching career in 1949, but gave up teaching after marriage in order to focus on her family of five children. However, she resumed teaching once her youngest child started her schooling. She joined her alma mater, St. Anne’s, Wattala, as an English teacher, and eventually became the school vice-principal. She retired early, but remained “Miss Joyce” to many.
Her strong faith was unwavering throughout her life, and her devotion to St. Anne, patron saint of Wattala, was unfailing. Her most noble contribution in the service of God was her lifelong commitment to the poor and needy. She lived the two great commandments that bid us to love God and love our neighbour.
In 1948, at the age of 18, she joined the St. Vincent De Paul Society, then called the Ladies of Charity, which she served till she died. She was probably one of the longest-serving members of the society in any country.
No needy person – whether relative, friend or stranger – who came to her doorstep went away empty-handed. She always extended a helping hand to the less fortunate, and did so without fanfare.
She would happily talk to family and friends of such achievements as singing carols with the Police Band or winning the Grandmother of the Year Award, but she never talked about the good she did. She was a true Christian, whose left hand did not know what the right hand gave.
She was an ordinary woman with an angelic voice, but an extraordinary human being and a special child of God.
Her ever-loving daughter,