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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2589

Thousands Gather in LA to Celebrate Life of Fr. Flavian Wilathgamuwa

By Philip Fernando in LA for Asian Tribune

Los Angeles, 20 June, (Asiantribune.com): Thousands from the six counties of Southern California gathered in Los Angeles to pay their last respects and celebrate the life of Father Flavian Wilathgamuwa (89). For the large Sri Lankan community who knew him, he was their chaplain, friend and cheer leader. He never failed to be their guide in moment of need. There were old boys of St. Sebastian’s Moratuwa, St. Benedict’s, Kotahena, St. Bede’s Badulla and de La Salle Mutuwal who cherished his friendship for over four decades. The President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa stated in a message that Sri Lanka had lost a true patriot. This was echoed by everyone at the funeral service and memorial ceremony held at San Gabriel Mission in Southern California.

Fr. Flavian never failed to let everyone know that he had no particular allegiance to any party. We are Sri Lankan always, he used to say. The good image of the country was foremost in his mind. He was present in Long Beach when Sri Lankan President addressed the Sri Lankans who gathered in record numbers. He gave the invocation-the last public function he attended.

He was bold enough to invite late Venerable Walpola Rahula Thero to be the Chief Guest at the prize giving at St. Benedict’s College fifty years ago. Many eye brows were raised when he did that. He was a close friend of late Venerable Narada Maha Thera of Vajirarama. He knew that religious harmony was vital to Sri Lanka. Old Benedictians remember him as a great educator. He had the entire school sing the national anthem at the start of school everyday.-unheard of fifty year ago.

After being the Superior of the de La Salle Brothers (Christian Brothers) order, he became a Claretian priest. Those at St. Sebastian’s Moratuwa knew him as a great communicator who listened to the teachers and students. He helped many students to get through the Ordinary Level exams by giving financial help.

He moved with celebrities and ordinary people with consummate ease. He was a close friend of both S W R D and Sirimavo Bandaranaike. In 1958 he was a member of the Sri Lanka delegation to the United Nations. The Buddhist member of the group was the late Dr. Hevanpola Ratanasara Thero.

Those who gathered to celebrate his life, it was a moment of joy amidst he uneasy feeling of saying good bye. There was an aura of accomplishment as they lined up to take a final glimpse of a gentle man who embodied the spirit of friendship in a very extra-ordinary way.

May His Soul Rest In Piece!

- Asian Tribune -

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