Rev. Sr. Mary Lucilla, former principal of Little Flower Convent, Karampon,("Little Vatican"), died on September 5, at the age of 89 in Jaffna. She was born on December 19, 1919 as the eldest daughter of Christopher Thambipillai. Her father was from Veemankaamam and her mother from Vasavillan.
Sr. M. Lucilla embraced the religious order as a Holy Family nun in June 1939.Through her hard work and determination she obtained a First Class in the Bachelor of Arts London Degree and also the Ceylon Teaching Certificate.
Going back memory's lane almost 54 years, I still vividly remember the morning in April 1954, when the staff and students of Little Flower Convent, were excited to witness the arrival of a new Principal in the person of Sr. Lucilla. She came from Bambalapitiya Convent, a leading girls' school in the heart of Colombo to assume the leadership of Little Flower Convent, a small school in the village of Karampon.
Once the initial shock of the change had worn off, she became totally focused on her new dream. She knew that there was no future for the girls at Little Flower without a foundation in the basic science subjects. She built and equipped the science labs and recruited science teachers. Next she extended the library both in the quality and quantity of books and laid the groundwork for a very comprehensive education.
She was endowed with a variety of talents and skills including art, music and singing. She used all these talents and skills to train the children for exhibitions, concerts, church functions, and important ceremonies. She trained the parish choir to sing for daily services, feasts and special occasions which were made lively and inspiring due to the singing par excellence. The chapel which was added to the convent building still stands as a lasting memorial to her name and achievements.
She presided over the destinies of thousands of girls for well over 15 years and during this time, she won the hearts of not only the "little" ones but also their parents and the general public. She was admired, loved, and respected by Catholics and Hindus alike.
After she retired from school activities, she channelled her energies into social service among the poor and the mentally challenged in Jaffna. Her enthusiasm to guide and direct the youth and the broken families gave her the impetus to do a Family Pastoral Counselling course in the University of Ottawa. The key to the success of her career as a nun, then as a principal, and later as a counsellor was mostly due to the strong faith in her spiritual life.
She continued to teach her favourite subject English to the Seminarians in Jaffna, helping in the moulding and shaping of young hearts to answer the call of the Lord unconditionally as she had done. As Sr. Lucilla had lived all her life in the service of God in the many tasks she undertook during her 70 years of ministry, we are confident that her reward will be great in heaven. May her soul rest peacefully in the arms of the Lord.
Pearl Philip, Retired teacher, Little Flower Convent,