His Grace the Most Reverend Dr Oswald Gomis
FORMER CHANCELLOR (2001 – 2021)
His Grace the Most Reverend Dr Oswald Gomis was born on December 12th, 1932, in Kelaniya. He received his primary education at St. Benedict’s College, Colombo, and later at St. Paul’s School, Waragoda, a branch of St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. After completing his collegiate studies at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, he joined the Minor Seminary of St. Aloysius, Borella, on January 16th, 1950. He was later promoted to the Major Seminary of St. Bernard, Borella, and received the religious habit on August 31st, 1951.
Dr Gomis completed his theological studies at the National Seminary in Kandy and was ordained a priest at St. Lucia’s Cathedral, Kotahena, on February 3rd, 1958 by His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Cooray (then Archbishop). He was nominated as Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo on April 9th, 1968 and received Episcopal Ordination on July 17th, 1968.
He holds a Degree of Master of Arts in Education from Adamson University in the Philippines and has been recognized for his invaluable services to mankind with the award of a Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa) from Fu Jen University in China. The degree was awarded in recognition of his services in the fields of Social Communications and Education in Asia.
Dr Gomis served as a tutorial staff in seminaries, director of the Colombo Catholic Press, and editor. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Radio Veritas, Philippines, and held various positions in national and international organizations, boards, and commissions, both religious and civil. He was also a member of the Governing Council of the University of Colombo from 1977 to 2001.
Throughout his life, Dr Gomis has been writing extensively for daily and weekend papers in both Sinhala and English and has published numerous books. He has been instrumental in establishing 15 schools, including international and technical schools, and has established a medical centre for the people of his birthplace, Kelaniya. He has also been involved in various housing and scholarship schemes for the poor and tsunami victims. Additionally, he has travelled to around 50 countries.
A Home for the Aged is currently under construction on a 14-acre land donated by Dr Gomis in Kelaniya. He served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo from 1968 to 1996, as Bishop of Anuradhapura from 1996, and was installed as the Archbishop of Colombo on July 27th, 2002. He was conferred “Emeritus Archbishop” in August 2009.
Ecclesiastical Appointments as Priest
- 1958-1960: Tutorial Staff and Bursar at St. Aloysius’ Seminary, Borella.
- 1960-1961: Director at Colombo Catholic Press.
- 1961-1968: Director at Colombo Catholic Press and Editor at Gnanartha Pradipaya and Duthaya.
- 1963-1965: Secretary to Auxiliary Bishop Anthony de Saram.
- 1965-1968: Secretary to Auxiliary Bishop Frank Marcus Fernando.
- 1965-1968: Notary at Marriage Tribunal and Censor of Books.
- 1959-1964: Chaplain at Hendela Leprosy Hospital.
Ecclesiastical Appointments as Bishop
- 1968-1996: Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo.
- January 15, 1996: Became the Bishop of Anuradhapura.
- Appointed Archbishop of Colombo on July 6, 2002.
- Installed as Archbishop of Colombo on July 27, 2002.
- Served as Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka from 1968-1975.
- Served as Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka from 1975-1983 and 1989-1995.
- Served as President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka from 1998-2005.
- Held various Chairman positions in Catholic National Commissions including Education, Culture, Liturgy, Justice and Peace, Catechesis, Bible Translation, Social Communications, Tourism and Migration, Health Care, and Prisons, at different times.
- Designed the Catholic Flag for the Church in Sri Lanka in 2000.
- Established the religious congregation of the “Sisters of Mary Immaculate” in 2004.
- Invited the “Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King” religious sisters to the archdiocese.
- Invited the “Congregation of the Daughters of St. Camillus” religious sisters to serve the aged and sick in the archdiocese.
- Invited the “OFM Conventuals” reverend fathers to serve the archdiocese in 2006.
- 1971-1982: Chairman of the FABC Committee for Social Communications.
- Member of the Board of Directors of Radio Veritas in the Philippines.
- Member of the Pontifical Commission for Non-Christian Religions in Rome.
- Elected as the first Asian Member of the Board of Directors of the International Catholic Film Organization (OCIC) in Brussels.
- Member of the Standing Committee of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in Hong Kong.
- Member of the Central Committee of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in Hong Kong.
- Currently a member of the Royal Asiatic Society.
- Served as a Member of the Board of Directors of the International Catholic Committee for Migrants (ICMC) from 1993 to 1999.
- 1996-2000: Secretary General of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.
- Re-elected as Secretary General of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences from 2000 to 2004.
- Appointed as a Synodal Father by Pope John Paul II on September 8th, 2005.
- Member of the Synod of Bishops in Rome in 2001.
- Led the Sri Lankan delegation to the Asian Synod in Rome in 1998.
- Attended the 11th Synod Meeting in Rome from October 2nd to 23rd, 2006.
- Founded St. Peter’s College, Gampaha Branch
- Founded St. Peter’s College, Udugampola Branch
- Founded Holy Cross College, Paiyagala Branch
- Founded St. Joseph’s College, Enderamulla Branch
- Founded St. Joseph’s College, Kadolkele Branch
- Founded Loyola College, Bopitiya Branch
- Founded Christ the King College, Weliweriya Branch
- Founded St. Jude’s College, Negombo
- Founded Maris Stella College, Bolawalana Branch
- Co-founded St. Nicholas’ International College, Colombo
- Founded St. Nicholas’ International College, Negombo
- Founded School of Hope, Paiyagala
- Founded Our Lady of Victories, Willowarawatte Branch
- Founded Don Bosco Technical Institute, Nochchiyagama
- Founded St. Thomas Catholic International College, Seeduwa.
- Chancellor of the University of Colombo from 2001 to 2021.
- Member of the University Council at the University of Colombo from 1977 to 1998.
- Member of the University Legislation Committee at the University of Colombo from 1977 to 2001.
- Member of the Committee to establish the Chair for Christian Civilization at the University of Kelaniya.
- Catholic Correspondent to the National Press Commission.
- Chairman of the Roman Catholic Religious Affairs Advisory Board from 1968 to 1977.
- Member of the Committee to investigate the illicit importation of newsprint in 1964.
- Member of the Committee to report on the impact of tourism on culture for the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in 1980.
- Led the Christian team to the All Party Conference on Ethnic Issues in 1984.
- Chairman of the Catholic Advisory Board for the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation.
- Member of the Catholic Advisory Board for the Rupavahini Corporation.
- Member of the Advisory Board for ITN.
- Member of the National Committee for the restoration of the Jaffna Library and public libraries in Sri Lanka under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Member of the Advisory Committee of the National Institute of Education.
- Chairman of the Advisory Committee of “Kithunu Upadeshaka Sabawa” for SLBC and Rupavahini from 2002 to 2009.
- Member of the Editorial Board of the Sinhala Sabdhakoshaya.
- Member of the Editorial Committee of “Mahavamsa”.
- Organized a Christmas Fellowship lunch for Buddhist monks on December 28, 2006, at the Archbishop’s House to foster solidarity and understanding
- Josephian Honours for Excellence – 11th Feb. 1994 (for outstanding and distinguished service to public life).
- Eminent past pupil – Diamond Jubilee Award 01.06.1995 (for outstanding service to public life).
- All Ceylon Muslim Educational Conference – Award “in appreciation of the distinguished and invaluable service in the field of Education in general and Religious and Cultural Education in particular”.- 28th January 1995.
4. Sebastianite Award of Excellence – 2007.
- Sri Lanka – United Nations Friendship Organisation (SUNFO) “Goodwill Ambassador” Award for “invaluable services and immense contribution to society”.
- “Life Fellow” Award of the International Institute of Management – “As an exemplary professional manager”.
- Donated a Medical Center to the residents of Kelaniya.
- Donated 14 acres of land for the construction of a Home for the Aged in Kelaniya.
- Actively involved in providing housing for the poor.
- Initiated relief and rehabilitation efforts for those affected by the 2004 Tsunami.
- Constructed houses and provided livelihood support for Tsunami victims.
- Built schools for children and started a scholarship program for Tsunami-affected children.
- Provided relief support to those displaced by the conflict in the Vanni/North region.
- Started the “Archbishop Scholarship Scheme” in 2009.
International Conferences and Meetings Chaired
- International Population Conference in Baguio City, Philippines.
- Seminar on Interreligious Dialogue organized by the Secretariat for Dialogue in Rome (Paris 1971).
- Konrad Adenauer Foundation Mass Media Conference from May 7th to 17th, 1972 in Tokyo and Manila.
- International Seminar on Film by OCIC in Petropolis, Brazil in 1975.
- Pan-Asian Meeting on Social Communications organized by the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications in Tokyo in 1974.
International Conferences and Meetings Attended
- Attended 6 Plenary Assemblies of the FABC in Manila (1970), Taipei (1974), Calcutta (1978), Bangkok (1982), Bangkok (1996), and Seoul (2000).
- Attended the AECD “Ecumenical Conference on Development and Peace” in Tokyo in May 1970 at Sacred Heart University.
- Also attended several other FABC formation institutes (BIRA, BIMA, BISA, etc.) and social communications meetings (UNDA, OCIC, and UCIP) in the Asian region.
- Led the Sri Lankan bishops on an Ad Limina visit to Pope Benedict XVI in October 2006.
As a journalist, he has contributed articles to reputable newspapers including the Daily News, Sunday Observer, Dinamina, Silumina, Daily Mirror, Lankadipa, Messenger, Dawasa, and other journals. Currently, he is writing a regular column on the history of the Sri Lankan Catholic Church for the Catholic Sinhala weekly “Gnanartha Pradipaya” and has contributed over 100 articles.
- Mahopadeshaya (A Complete Catechism for the Family in Sinhala) – 1986.
- Periya Kulippidum (Tamil – 2006).
- Lama Bibalaya (Bible Stories for Children).
- Sinhalaye Kithunu Urumaya (Christian Contributions in Sri Lanka).
- Maga Hondata Thibenam (A Reply to Christian Fundamentalists).
- Santhana Siritha (The Life of St. Anne).
- Yovun Bibalaya (A Bible for Youth).
- Devidhano Daruwan Amathannaha (Bible Stories for Children).
- Jesu Samidun Bharathaye (Jesus in India: A Response).
- Reminiscences of Tewatta (August 27, 2006).
- “Thewatte Mathaka Satahan” (August 27, 2006).
- Some Christian Contributions in Sri Lanka (English) – April 6, 2009.
- “Sri Lankawe Kithunu Dayakathwaya” (Sinhala) – July 6, 2009.
- The Catholic Family Catechism – December 2010.
- Kithu Samidhano Bharathayata Vedisekdha.
- Katholika Yatagiyaawa – Sri Lankaawa – 2012.