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Rt. Revd. Dushantha Rodrigo
The Bishop of Colombo
The Magazine Committee was privileged to have the opportunity to interview the 16th Bishop of Colombo, the Rt. Rev. Dushantha Lakshman Rodrigo. Anah Cassim, Inara De Silva, Ginuri Ranasinghe, Savitha Krishnakumar and Senuthi Mahadevan participated in this virtual discussion on the 2nd of August 2021.
The Rt. Rev. Dushantha Lakshman Rodrigo or ‘Bishop Dushy’ as he is known by all, was born in Trincomalee as his father was a naval officer. His family, including his two older siblings, moved to Colombo, settled down in Dehiwala, and he was baptized at Christ Church Dehiwala. He received his primary education at the ‘School by the sea’, St. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. He fondly recalls memories of
riding to school on his ‘push cycle’. The strong foundations of Bishop Dushantha’s faith were established early on through family prayer and his devotion to Sunday School. At the age of 11, he found his calling to serve God when the Parish Priest, Fr. Lionel Peiris invited him to be an Altar Server. He joined the Theological College in 1990 and was ordained in 1995.
For Bishop Dushantha there were many who influenced him and continue to inspire him in his service to God. Fr. Lionel Peiris, his Parish Priest as well as his parents, taught him many life lessons and influenced him as an individual. He recalls the challenges of his first appointment as Deacon in Nuwara Eliya, where he did not know anyone, but subsequently won the hearts of his congregation which left an indelible mark in his life. The Chaplain of his school, Fr. Sunil De Silva and the then Bishop of Colombo, The Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera, had inspired him to pursue his own journey of faith. Prior to his appointment as the 16th Bishop of Colombo, he served as Headmaster of St. Thomas’ Preparatory School, Kollupitiya.
With the onset of the global pandemic, he described how he was able to overcome many challenges with the help of his school community. He stressed how COVID-19 had affected individuals of all age groups with times of unpredictability and fear. Bishop Dushantha also spoke about the contradiction with technology as students are now encouraged to use it, in order to keep up with the “New Normal”. The replacement of physical classrooms to virtual classrooms and adaptation to new technology were amongst the new challenges he faced during his tenure as Headmaster. He emphasized the importance of balance, in reconciling time spent online and offline while encouraging familial relationships to cope with the current situation.
Although perfectly content in his former appointment as Headmaster, he accepted the opportunity to ‘lead his flock as the shepherd of his diocese’ as the 16th Bishop of Colombo in 2020.
In addressing today’s youth, Bishop Dushantha’s message is simple and concise – ‘they should be genuine and authentic’. He also mentioned that happiness and contentment are far greater than materialism in modern society. According to him, a genuine smile and a tender heart outweigh the fickle pursuit of worldly greed. He was the school Chaplain from 2006 to 2010 and served as a teacher of Religion at Bishop’s College during the tenure of Mrs. Bibile. In reminiscing his fondest memories at Bishop’s College, he spoke of when he was young and was sent by KPMG to school. He recalled with amusement, the instance when he had to lend his shoes to Santa Claus for the Annual Christmas Party! He also mentioned that once he left Bishop’s College to be Chaplain of St. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia, his students would constantly ask him which school was the best, and he would answer saying that it was Bishop’s College if there were no Thomians around!
Bishop Dushantha mentioned how he handled the role of Chaplain and spoke of how people would approach him with many matters, while the only person he confided in was Jesus. He also said that it was important to engage with the support staff and show gratitude because of their invaluable services. As teacher and Chaplain, he had attempted to create a fellowship among the staff in every institution he served in. It was his perspective that self-worth was an attitude worth reinforcing among people. He considers his ability to listen as his greatest strength and believes in giving everyone an equal opportunity to voice their opinion.
We express our gratitude to Bishop Dushantha for meeting with the Magazine Committee amidst his busy schedule to share his life story and words of wisdom. We warmly welcome him as the Chairman of the Board of Governors of Bishop’s College and wish him all God’s Blessings as he leads our school towards greater heights.