St.Patrick’s College, a leading Catholic school in the Island, was established in 1850 as the “Jaffna Catholic English School” by Monsignor Orazio Bettacchini. Later, with the reception of a grant from the Government in 1851, it came to be called as the “Jaffna Boys’ Seminary”. Its first Principal was Mr. Patrick Foy, an Irishman. In some sense, our college is older than some modern day countries like Canada and Australia!
St.Patrick’s, from its very inception, pioneered many educational reforms and developments. With the steady increase of students the curriculum was expanded and steps were taken to maintain high standards. In 1881 the school was registered as a complete High School and was formally christened as St.Patrick’s College on the 10th of January 1881.
In 1889 vocational subjects were introduced and technical subjects in 1901. New classrooms and a student hostel was built in 1887. The Old Boys’ Association was formed and it played a vital role in the development of the school under the guidance of Revd.Fr.Matthews.
The efforts of the Rectors and staff bore rich harvest from the very beginning. London Matriculation Examination results for the years 1932 to 1935 and 1937 were the best results of all the schools in the entire British Empire. With the government’s ‘Take over of schools” in 1961, St.Patrick’s opted to be a Private non-fee levying school. When the missionaries priests left the shores of Sri Lanka, native sons nurtured by the alma mater stepped up to challenge and continue to provide the leadership and pastoral care.
In the past, when conditions in the island permitted, the college had within its portals, students of all races and religions from all parts of the country. Though managed by the Catholic Church, students of other religious persuasions are equally well cared for. The College was so popular that there was a special hostel for non-Catholic students. Ample opportunities are still afforded to the poorer children in the neighbourhood.
Character formation in the students is of utmost concern and the loftiest ideals in life are inculcated in the minds of the students. Sports and other co-curricular activities are encouraged.
In contemporary times our college has not only survived the ‘takeover of schools’, financial crisis, civil war and natural disasters and provided the pastoral care to the young men but also played its part in the wider community by providing shelter and assistance to the displaced during the time of need.
Fide et labore – faith and hard work by all Patricians will see St.Patrick’s continuing to strive against all odds to serve the nation’s future youngsters as she has done during her illustrious past.