New Bishop of Chilaw:
His Lordship Valence Mendis: A gentle shepherd
His Lordship Devsritha Valence Mendis, the new Bishop of Chilaw
YOUNGEST BISHOP: His Lordship Devsritha Valence Mendis has been
enthroned as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Chilaw at a solemn
Eucharistic celebration held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in
Chilaw on October 28. At 48, Bishop Valence will be the youngest amongst
the bishops who serve the flock as the Shepherds of 11 Catholic Dioceses
of Sri Lanka.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Edmund Peiris, OMI of revered memory became the
first Bishop of Chilaw on 12th January 1940 at a time of national
resurgence. He was an eminent historian, an accomplished literary
scholar and a musician of no mean stature and served the diocese for 32
The second Bishop of Chilaw, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Frank Marcus Fernando
took over the reins on 27th December 1972 carved out for himself a niche
in the hall of fame as an eloquent preacher of the Lord, a charming
writer and a fearless fighter for the cause of justice. He guided the
flock for 33 years up to the last month.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Valence Mendis who becomes the third Bishop of
Chilaw is another trailblazer.
Bishop Valence pursued his Doctoral studies at the Urban University
in Rome and within just two years obtained his PhD in 1994. On his
return, he was appointed as the Dean of Philosophy at the National
He is a valued teacher of philosophy and theology but 'Natural
Theology' and the 'Theology of Religions' are his forte. His fluency in
Sinhala, English and Italian and the working knowledge of Tamil, German
and Latin added finesse to his teaching skills.
Bishop Valence was born on 21 May 1958. He is the eldest son of late
Bertram Mendis and of Iranganie Mendis of the Parish of Koralawella in
Bishop Valence was educated from the Kindergarten to Grade 9 under
the guidance of the De La Salle Brothers at St. Sebastian's College,
Moratuwa from 1963 to 1973. Then, he joined Prince of Wales College,
Moratuwa and successfully completed the GCE (OL) in 1974.
After a brilliant school career, Bishop Valence was beckoned by God
to His vineyard to enable him to fulfill his allotted vocation. The
effusive showering of talents made him more and more conscious of his
obligations before God.
These ideas and ideals which matured in him from childhood made him
what he became. Due to the sincerity and persistence of their son and
the great love that the parents had for the priesthood, he entered St.
Paul's Minor Seminary, Marawila in 1975.
A year later, he joined St. Julian Eymard Intermediate Seminary in
Haputale for his Propaedeutic studies and finally entered National
Seminary in Ampitiya in 1976. In the National Seminary, he set his goals
straight and chartered the correct course.
His perfection was to seek God's will and fulfill it and as a result
glory and honour followed him. As a gifted musician, a keen sportsman
and as the Dean of Students, he not only won the admiration of his
superiors but also successfully completed his philosophical and
And the day dawned for him to approach the alter and Rt. Rev. Dr.
Frank Marcus Fernando ordained him a priest of the Diocese of Chilaw at
St. Joseph's Church, Wennappuwa on 20th July 1985. Immediately after his
ordination, Bishop Valence responded willingly to serve as a 'Fidei
Donum Priest' in the Diocese of Kandy.
His first appointment was as the Assistant Parish Priest of St.
Anthony's Cathedral, Kandy from 1985 to 1987. Thereafter, the Bishop of
Kandy, Rt. Rev. Dr. Vianney Fernando appointed him as the Parish Priest
of Padiwatta where he traversed new paths to uplift the living
conditions of his parishioners from 1987 till 1989.
Apart from his pastoral ministry, he made use of his leisure to
develop his knowledge in different fields and succeeded in earning a
Master of Arts degree from the University of Peradeniya in 1987. Later,
he served as a visiting lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the
In 1989, at the request of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sri
Lanka, Bishop Valence joined the permanent staff of the National
Seminary. A paradigm shift in 'Priestly Formation' in Sri Lanka took
place in the National Seminary with the separation of Philosophate and
Bishop Valence had the honour of becoming the first Director of the
newly created Philosophate in October 2000. On 4 February 2001, the
Catholic Bishops' Conference placed their trust and confidence on him
once again by installing him at 42, as the youngest Rector in the
50-year history of the National Seminary.
Bishop Valence will strive to bind all those people in the bonds of
charity to open the doors of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the World,
the joy of every human heart, and the fulfillment of all our hopes!
Ad Multos Annos - Vivat.