Very Rev. Fr. Kingsley Jayamanne passed away on May 29, last year after a brief illness. He was 75 years of age and had served 45 years in the priesthood.
On completion of his studies at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, he attended the Colombo University where he qualified with a Diploma in Education and the B.Sc. Degree. He followed his theological studies at the National Seminary, Ampitiya, and thereafter he was admitted to Rome’s Propaganda Hidei Institute for higher theology and philosophy studies. For his Masters degree he went to England and to the United States for further studies.
Returning to Sri Lanka, he took up several assignments - he was Rector of St. Aloysius Seminary, Borella, Editor of the Catholic Messenger, Acting Rector of St. Peter’s College, Colombo 4, Vicar General, Colombo South region. He was pastor in charge of the following parishes - Colpetty, Kotte, Panadura, and Mt. Lavinia. Despite his academic achievements his heart and mind were more inclined to be involved with the parish community.
He touched the lives of many and his ability to move and serve the helpless and the disabled, reaching out to them in their homes, hospitals, and other shelters, fulfilled the precepts of the gospels.
During the time he was in charge of St. Peter’s College the 1983 racial riots erupted. With courage and pride he stood by the open gates of the college to receive the families seeking shelter and protection, facing the threats and insults of hooligans and thugs.
Fr. Kingsley suffered from a little known disease diagnosed as Motor Neurone Disease (M.N.D). With few cases reported in this country, the process of diagnosis and treatment was slow and delayed, turning him into skin and bone within a few months. As the prescribed drug could not be found in the local market, a kindhearted Sri Lankan doctor residing in England responded with a month’s supply of the drug. The disease had reached its terminal stage and in those last few days, calmly and confidently he bore intense pain and suffering.
On June 1, 2009 the funeral service was held at The Archbishop’s House, Sacred Heart Chapel. At the Kanatte burial grounds, the St. Peter’s College Band pipers sounded the ‘Last Post' in a farewell tribute as his mortal remains were laid to rest. I recall the lines from his favourite song:
“You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up, to walk the stormy seas.
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be”
"Fr. Kingsley - May eternal peace be your reward.”