Fr. Marcelline Jayakody

Fr. Marcelline Jayakody was born on June 3, 1902 at Dankotuwa in Sri Lanka. He had his early education at a school in Madampe, a village close to Dankotuwa. And, both the villages, Madampe and Dankotuwa are in Chilaw District. He had his secondary education at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. In 1920 he entered St. Bernard’s Seminary and was ordained a priest on December 20, 1927. He had an eventful career replete with ups and downs. He was a priest ahead of the times and all his defeats later turned out to be victories. No other Catholic priest in Sri Lanka had touched the hearts and lives of the people in our country like Fr. Marcelline Jayakody.

There was always the love for national culture in his veins. As a young priest Fr. Marcelline Jayakody was criticized in Church circles for offering some Lotus flowers at the sanctuary at the wedding Mass of one of his relatives. Since then much water has flowed under the bridges in Sri Lanka. Now the national culture is given its due place in the Catholic Church and Fr. Marcelline Jayakody is considered an exponent of indigenous culture.

In the 1940s and 1950s, especially around Independence, there was a national awakening in Sri Lanka. This national consciousness had its effect on the Catholic Church as well. Accordingly Fr. Marcelline Jayakody too began to compose hymns with a national fervour. The outstanding hymns of Fr. Marcelline Jayakody at the time like, ‘Ronata Vadina Bigngu Obay’, ‘Nelum Pipeela Pethi Visireela’ and ‘Suvanda Jale Pipi Kumudiniya’, with their superb lyrics, sweet music and local setting, captivated the hearts of all.

These hymns of Fr. Marcelline Jayakody were simple and close to the people. They are appreciated by even non-Catholics. They contain both Christian aspects and national sentiments. They are a clear example for cultural adaptation in its true perspective.

Fr. Marcelline Jayakody underwent some training at Shanthinikethan, the famous oriental arts centre set up by Rabindranath Tagore. When Fr. Marcelline Jayakody returned to Sri Lanka he was sent to Tolagatty in Jaffna as punishment for leaving the country without the permission of the Church authorities. Later he served as teacher at St. Patrick’s College, Jaffna.

Fr. Marcelline Jayakody made use of his stay in Jaffna to make a study of the Hindu religion and Tamil culture. He wrote a series of articles to the ‘Times of Ceylon’ on Hindu culture and the simple and serene life of the people and the beauty of Jaffna.

In 1953 Fr. Marcelline Jayakody was appointed to the staff of St. Peter’s College, Colombo. And few years later he was transferred to St. Joseph’s College where he joined tutorial staff of his Alama Mater.

Continuing his literary work, he published the book, ‘Muthu’, containing the poems in ‘Kaviya’. ‘Mutu’ won for Fr. Marcelline Jayakody the Presidential Award for the best poetry book in 1979 and in 1983 the famous international award, the Magsaysay Prize.

That is not all. Fr. Marcelline Jayakody was the author of several books of prose and poetry, both in Sinhala and in English. He was also a well known journalist who has carried columns in both Catholic and secular newspapers. He was also an active member of the ‘Hela Havula’ for several years. Until his death he was the president of the Sinhala Poets’ Association.

Ven. Dr. Ittapane Dhammalankara Thera has written a book on Fr. Marcelline Jayakody titled ‘Malpale Upan Pansale Piyatuma’. This is the first book in the whole world written by a Buddhist prelate on a Catholic priest.

Fr. Marcelline Jayakody was awarded the Kalasuri title by the state and Kirthi Nandana Pranamaya by the Catholic Church for his outstanding contributions to the arts and culture in Sri Lanka.

The death anniversary of Fr. Marcelline Jayakody OMI, the well known Catholic priest, musician, poet, author, journalist and patriot falls on January 15. A household name in our country and a legend in his lifetime, he passed away on January 15, 1998 . He lived long till the ripe old age of 96.

Sincere to God and sincere to man, Fr. Marcelline Jayakody is the proud boast of Catholics, as a national artist and patriot.

The above is taken from an article written by Mr Lesli Fernando.


About Troubled Waters

From collision to mutiny and murder, Marine Captain John De Silva’s TROUBLED WATERS sets down with searing honesty the highs and lows of the professional seafarer’s life. The land is but a temporary haven in which relationships are made, but the blue sea is where unforgettable events occur and memories are relived. This captivating memoir explores the sheer optimism we human beings have been endowed with to meet the adversities of life head on.

From plagues of cockroaches, engine failures, duplicity and deceit, to Reema, the Indian girl who gets pregnant and is subsequently abandoned by her Muslim boyfriend and forced into a lifetime of prostitution, the book explores human life and our relationship with the divine that allows us to steer a steady course through chaos as we head toward a peaceful anchor.

This is the story of a voyage that Captain John de Silva undertakes with all its attendant vicissitudes and death-defying miseries. Yet throughout he never loses his faith in the Lord; never loses that optimism we human beings have been endowed with to balance out fear and despair.

Captain De Silva’s odyssey begins in January, 2006, when he assumes command of the ship Cape Agulhas with its Myanmar crew. In his voyage around the coast of Africa, almost everything that can go wrong does. From a seasick cook who can’t cook, officials who demand bribes at every port, and a silent but very unpredictable and dangerous crew who never obey an order without first having a lengthy conclave among themselves, the Captain faces one test after another–trusting in his faith in God to find his way through.

If you’re wondering what a lifetime at sea might be like, you won’t want to miss this book.


Captain John P. De Silva Bio

Captain John Priyantha De Silva is a master mariner who hails from the coastal city of Galle, Sri Lanka. His first book Through Deep Waters created a wave of interest about “life at sea”. Next came his “Troubled Waters” which was met with a greater sound of applause. Captain De Silva was hailed as a celebrity Captain as rave reviews flowed. Troubled Waters is Captain John De Silva’s third book about the sea, written at sea.
John holds a Master Mariner Class 1 from the Sydney Maritime College, Australia. He is also a member of the Company of Master Mariners of Sri Lanka since May 1991. John De Silva now lives in New York, U.S.A with his wife Subitha and his children.

Biography In Brief

I am John Priyantha De Silva born on December 18, 1952. Ceylon, as my home country was called at the time of my birth, is a tropical Island, in the Indian Ocean. After becoming a Republic, the name was changed to Republic of Sri Lanka.   My father was Bertram De Silva and my mother Corinne De Silva. My mother’s maiden name is Rajapakse. I always thank God for giving me good parents and giving me the wisdom to plan my life according to his will. I thank my parents for educating me in a good school and bringing me up in a sound and moderate social background.

I studied at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo upto High School Certificate level. During my school days I wrote a few short stories in Sinhala and in English covering some of my own experiences and actions, and also those of my friends and classmates. Late, Rev Fr. Marceline Jayakody was my Sinhala and English teacher during the final year at High School. It was Father Jayakody who inspired me to write in both languages.(Read More about Fr. Marceline here)

Although I liked the game of cricket very much I did not take part in cricket at school level. I played football and was a member of the 1971 and 1972, first eleven team of the school. I will always remember that, I was a member of the team which played a very good game of football to end up with a score of 2 goals each after going into extra time, and draw with St. Benedict’s College, Kotahena. St. Benedict’s College, at that time had the best school football team. On the following day, the news item appeared in one daily paper had called the end of the game as “Golden memories and Silver tears”, because St. Joseph’s had lost to St. Benedict’s for many years prior to that. I am and always will be a great fan of Manchester United.

My first visit on board a ship

Somewhere in October 1971 I was invited by a friend to join him to go on board a ship berthed in Colombo harbour. I was delighted at the invitation. But I explained to him my problem. He said that he would obtain permission from my mother. He came with his brother, who happened to be the third officer on that ship. My mother allowed me to go on board the ship with them. It was great. As the Third Officer, he was living in luxury. As it was in the evening we declined dinner. Therefore we were served with a hot cup of soup brought in by a steward. I went around the ship and it was out of this world. The name of the ship was “Lanka Rani”, Sri Lanka’s very first cargo ship.

Following the visits to the “Lanka Rani”, I developed a liking towards seafaring. One day when my father was at home, I just mentioned my idea to him. His immediate response was “don’t talk nonsense”. As he was a person of few words, it took another month or so to find out why he said that. I once called the friend who was an officer on the “Lanka Rani” to visit home when my father was there. He obliged. Both brothers came and had lunch with us. It was extremely difficult to convince my parents. They went on saying that I being the eldest in the family, they just cannot even think of sending me to sea, considering the dangers and other activities involved in seafaring.

Joining the merchant Navy

One of my Uncle’s who knew my ambition, once visited our home and informed me that a company in Sri Lanka based in Colombo will be calling applications for Officer Cadets in the Merchant Navy. It was advertised in the papers. After a long deliberation, my father agreed to help me with the application. He followed up the matter with the Finance Director of the Company who was known to him. He had assured my father that my application had been filed and the interviews will be held in March 1973.

In March a written exam was held by the Company which I passed. I was then given a date to come for an interview. I was interviewed by a very senior Master Mariner (Senior Ship’s Captain) in the country. He first checked my vision report and was satisfied with the results. Then he interviewed me for more than two hours. I still remember what he mentioned towards the end of the interview, “Son, take very serious note that you are going to marry the sea and forget about weddings, funerals, etc.”

In April 1973 the same Captain had a very long discussion with my father. At the end of the discussion he said that I will be informed in writing, and to come on the date mentioned with two sureties to sign the bond and be prepared to keep a refundable cash deposit of Rs. 5000.00. The estimated time for signing the bond was around June 1973, and we kept checking on the time that I was going to be called in for this purpose. It was a Thursday in October when I finally received the letter calling me to report to the Office with sureties to sign the bond. A week later I was handed in vouchers for my uniforms and shoes. The situation at home changed. Everybody was happy. The next thing was that my parents and I visited my grandmothers’, close relations and friends to give them the good news of my being recruited as an Officer Cadet in the Merchant Navy. I studied at Sir John Cass maritime College in London and also at the Lal Bhadur Sahstri Nautical College in Mumbai. Final part of my studies was done at Sydney Maritime College in NSW Australia and, I obtained Masters Certificate (Master Mariner) in December 1989.

First Voyage

In the 12th November 1973, I joined my first ship at Colombo. Along with me there was another Sri Lankan and an Indian Cadet. On that day, I first went to church with my parents. We had a very simple celebration at home with kiribath, (milk rice etc.,) and proceeded to the Shipping office to sign on the vessel. Those days security was not strict as it is now and about 20 of my immediate family members including my maternal grandmother went on board with me.

Through these years I have commanded many ships; all types, other than Tankers.   I am also a Marine Surveyor and a Marine Consultant.

The main aim of my first book was to convey a message to people of all walks life, both genders and any one above fifteen years of age; by very carefully reading the same to avoid any possible unpleasant situations in life and be prepared to face any situation that would very suddenly arise  at any stage of life.