She brought kindness, compassion and  much needed sense of humour to all Sr Mary Irene Perera (Emmo) The 3rd month death anniversary of Sister Mary Irene fell on November 20. Sr Mary Irene (Emmo) after her father’s loss, at a very early stage in life realized that her call was to serve the Lord.  She [...]




She brought kindness, compassion and  much needed sense of humour to all

Sr Mary Irene Perera (Emmo)

Sister Mary Irene at the Leprosy Hospital, Hekitta, Hendala

The 3rd month death anniversary of Sister Mary Irene fell on November 20. Sr Mary Irene (Emmo) after her father’s loss, at a very early stage in life realized that her call was to serve the Lord.  She was passionate in serving humanity and practised humility and simplicity, which were the outstanding virtues of St. Francis of Assisi. Sr. Mary Irene was born on May 10, 1921 to Joseph and Nellie Perera and was the eldest of five siblings. On June 13, 1942 she joined the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Novitiate at Mattakuliya and proceeded to take her first and final vows in 1945 and 1948 respectively. She served in different parts of the island – Moratuwa, Kalaoya, Minneriya, Mahiyagana and Mattakuliya.

At the time when leprosy was highly infectious without proper medicine to treat the disease, Sr. Emmo volunteered to look after the leprosy patients and went  through the jungles of Minneriya and other areas in the North Central Province in search of patients who were in hiding and marginalized by society. She would attend to their material needs, dress their wounds and give them medicines too. She was unwavering and nursed them with dedication and commitment. Even when she was in her late 80s she visited the patients regularly and even organised a Christmas party for them every year.

She was selfless, giving whatever she could to the needy and was at all times compassionate towards the poor, sick and the neglected. Her compassion for the poor had no limits.  Wherever she was, she would visit them and try to satisfy their needs always. She also engaged in a variety of other apostolate services like teaching, taking Holy Communion to the sick etc.,

She did all this with a smile, and I have never seen her complaining or angry. Her love and compassion made everyone around her feel the radiating joy emanating from her.  Being a very light hearted person, she always blended her conversation with humour. Sr. Emmo was never known to hurt anyone with words or action, in fact her smile won our hearts.

There aren’t enough words to express the love and gratitude I feel towards Sister Emmo. She was so kind, and was so much fun to be with.She brought kindness, compassion and much needed sense of humour to all – in fact I am amazed at her  sense of humour! Blessed with an outgoing personality, she reached out to everyone – young, old, rich or poor and built up relationships  with  all and sundry.

She was called to rest on August 20, after 75 years in religious service and I believe she is already with St Francis of Assisi in heaven today.“Thank you” seems hardly adequate to Sr. Emmo who gave this world so much love, without counting the cost.  She is an unsung hero of our times, and the most courageous example of faith I have ever known. We are proud of you Sr. Emmo and we miss you!

 Renuka De Zoysa

A shining light among the Moor community

Mohamed Sameer Bin Hajie Ismail Effendi

It is over 45 years since my paternal grand-dad Mohamed Sameer, son of Hajie Ismail Effendi, passed away on November 21, 1972 at the age of 82, when I had clocked 22.

Sameer Appa, as we affectionately called him, was born on March 7, 1890. He received his education at Hameedia School in 1900, at City College and at S. Thomas College located in Mutwal, Colombo, passing the London College of Preceptors in 1902.

He met with Colonel  Orabi Pasha, before his departure on September 18, 1901, in view of the Egyptian revolutionary’s close friendship with his late father Hajie Ismail Effendi (1854-1896) who was an Arabic scholar. Sameer Appa attended the historic Fez Question Mass meeting held at the Maradana Mosque Colombo grounds on December, 31, 1905.

In 1909, he edited the monthly Tamil journal The True Messenger, and published Jewels of Islam in 1912. In 1915, he was a pioneer member of the All Ceylon Muslim League founded by CM Meera Lebbe Marikar who was its secretary, and the Moors Union, whose president, Proctor NHM Abdul Cader, MLC, MMC, ceremonially released Sameer Appa’s book, A Short Sketch of the Life of ILM Abdul Azeez, on November 26, 1915.

On February 15, 1941, he retired as a special class officer after having served over 30 years in the Colombo Municipal Council. He was the sole Ceylonese Moor clerk who joined the Assessor’s Department on January 1, 1911 as chief correspondence and acquisition clerk under NG Power. He functioned in varied disciplines, ending as head clerk of the Veterinary department. He served C. Stewart Orr and HP Beling, especially under the mayoralty of WL Murphy,  (1932-1937) (later Sir William Lindsay Murphy. He published a piece in the CDN of  October 9, 1969 on former mayor Major Newnham, commending his efficiency during his tenure, as reported by editor MJ Wangsa Achmed in the Truth newspaper of March-April, 1941. Thereafter, he was recalled and did temporary stints as head clerk in the central milk-feeding section, Civil Defence Commissioner’s department, and in the claims section, Valuation department.

I used to accompany him on occasion smartly kitted in his suit to the CMC to collect his monthly pension, and thereafter to procure stationery and sweets before returning home in Bambalapitiya. His famous mottos used to be: “You first,” to those who rudely barged in, and, “A book lent is a book lost.”

He was a founder and senior member of the board of trustees of the Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home, Inc., (MICH) Colombo.  At a ceremony held in November, 1965, the MICH board of trustees awarded him its coveted gold medallion and citation, “in recognition of his services in the collection, presentation and dissemination of information relating to the Moors of Ceylon.” The MICH souvenirs of October 1965 and July 1970 carry a sizeable work of his research.

A member of the Maradana Mosque Colombo congregation since  June  1908, he was recommended by its president, Barrister AHM Ismail, MA, LL.B, for appointment as its managing trustee on three alternate 2-year terms from June 1941 to 06 June 1951. During his tenure he “cleansed” the Augean Stables of the Maradana Mosque administration as described in his work, How I served the Maradana mosque. He also wrote a history of the Maradana mosque, personages of the past, and a diary of events titled Recalled to life, and edited a translation of his father’s travels of Hajie Ismail Effendi in 1884.

He used to type his essays using an Olivetti desk typewriter. As age crept up on him, I used to help type them and mastered the keyboard, which ability now helps me behind a PC. He was deeply affected by the demise of his beloved wife Raliya Noordeen, on September, 1968, five days prior to her 75th birthday, but continued to focus on life with fortitude.

He maintained an extensive global correspondence with Islamic institutions, and with the Departments of Archaeology and Museums, Dr Senarath Paranavitana, Sir Dr Paul Pieris, Statesmen Sir Razik Fareed, Senator Dr AMA Azeez, historians and writers Lieut-Comm. Somasiri Devendra, SLN, Capt SL Mohamed, barrister AH Macan Markar, AIL Marikar, ALM Lafir, AHM Azwer, MM Thawfeeq and Marzook Burhan, consulted him on various issues concerning the Ceylon Moors.

One morning in November, 1972, lying in bed, he summoned, apart from his youngest son Sadiq in London, my dad Thahir, Ismail and Farooq, daughters Rameela, Saleema, Jazeela, Ameena, Rahma and Khalisa,  and their spouses, 34-grandkids and close kin and bid them goodbye. He serenely passed on at 4-pm. May Allah bless you dear Sameer Appa with Jennathul Firdous (Heavenly Bliss)!

Firoze Sameer

Vivid are those  memorable  times together

Prianca  Perera

The air is cool and crisp, as a sublime breeze blows in from the mountain side. I think of our dear friend Prianca who passed away suddenly on that Monday night. The weekend before we had received an email from him, telling us that he would not be able to be with us for Christmas as he was on the threshold of working on a new venture with a friend.

When our neighbour from Colombo called us with the news, we were stunned. It took us a while to comprehend this news about our good friend. I recalled the first time we met him at Calvary Church with another dear friend Damayanthi Herath, who sadly passed away many years ago in the prime of her life of cancer. Prianca was a solemn greeter in church, impeccably dressed, who took his duty as an usher very dedicatedly.

Even though we left Sri Lanka in 2005, we kept in touch via email and phone. Prianca and Manique became very dear to Hillary and me. I recall the lovely times we spent after church, going to “Carnival” for  ice cream, the many dinners and gatherings with our “Calvary friends” in our homes.  We enjoyed black cherry cheese cake that our sister-in-law Mano introduced us to at the newly opened Don Stanley’s at that time. We never missed a “Purple Rain”, or a Philharmonic Pops concert. We listened to lobby music at hotels, just enjoying a fun evening together. Prianca loved keyboard music. I would plead with him to treat us to a bit of his piano playing occasionally at his home.

The trips we did with our group of friends, were memorable. It was so much fun. Trips to Welimada, to World’s End, and Habarana, were such a scintillating experiences. I remember most clearly how we ended up at a tourist bungalow in Anuradhapura during one of those suddenly planned long weekend trips. Despite the not so comfortable accomodation, we enjoyed the loud taped music of the Gypsies, while we laughed at each joke or story while we swatted mosquitos and ate every morsel of food that was prepared for us.

Prianca loved God deeply and would not miss hearing ‘His word’ at any given opportunity. It’s hard to talk about the once so happy memories, when our friends are no more. Our minds are the repositories of all those lovely memories of friends who have left us. They will always be vivid and be present in our lives.

Prianca was such a caring brother to Manique. In his quiet unobtrusive way, he did all that he could as a son, and brother, a giving nephew to his aunt, and also to any friend who needed his help. He, as our friend understood all the upheavals Hillary and I were going through regarding our home in Colombo, the home where we spent many a time of togetherness and joy. Prianca would remind me to “be still”, to make those two Bibilical words my affirmation, to have total reliance in God to see us through this trial.

Prianca’s earthly life has ended. He has now passed the moon and the stars. He is with Christ in Heaven. We thank God for the beautiful memories of our times with you Prianca. Goodbye dearest friend. We will see you again.

 Charmaine Candappa


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