In Rome, when the Cardinals get inside the Sistine Chapel to elect a Pope, once they have finished their work, a white smoke signal is sent out to announce that their work was over. Then people start singing in unison “Habemus Papam”, meaning “we have a Pope” or “Viva il Papa” meaning “long live the Pope”. In like manner we could have shouted out loud on the 6th of December last year at 4.30 p.m., when Radio Vatican announced to the whole world the name of our new bishop Most Rev. Dr. Don Wimal Siri Jayasuriya has been appointed by His Holiness Pope Francis.


His Excellency Archbishop Most Rev. Dr. Brian Udaigwe, the Vatican Nuncio in Sri Lanka was at the Bishop’s House, Chilaw, on that day with an unopened envelope in his hand in front of a gathering of Priests, Nuns, Reverend Brothers and Laity along with the Apostlic Administrator of our diocese marking time for the Vatican announcement. According to our time it was 4.30 p.m. the Nuncio opened the envelope and read out the name of the new Bishop.


For 2 years we were without a Shepherd. Father Wimal Siri had been consulted and agreed upon to keep it a secret till the official announcement was made. According to the Canon Law he has to be consecrated and installed within 90 days.


His Excellency Archbishop Most Rev. Dr. Brian Udaigwe has done a real search for the most suitable person for the job leaving no stones uncovered. It’s like Prophet Samuel going secretly in search of the worthy candidate to anoint as King to succeed Saul. The Prophet said he won’t sit down to eat until the person approved by God is brought in (1 Samuel 16.11-13). The most suitable person was found far away looking after his father’s flock. He was sent for. Out of 8 sons they found the last one in the family to be the favoured one to be anointed as king.


We are sure that the Holy Spirit had played the biggest role in this selection. His Excellency, Dr. Brian Udaigwe also played a dual role of Prophet Samuel as well as Santa Claus since it happened to be the 6th of December, feast day of St. Nicholas – the gift giver.

Biodata of the new Bishop


Wimal Siri was born to a very devout ancestral Catholic family living in Rangammulla as the third and the last child, In the Bolawatta Parish, famous mission center of Father Joseph Vaz (now a Saint) who smuggled himself into Sri Lanka from Goa during the Dutch persecution of Catholics. It’s also the place where Fr. Jacome Gonsalvez the linguistic from Goa, worked and died. His body is buried inside the church. It’s also the place where Fr.C.Garcia worked as parish priest for half a century until his death. He is the one who guided Helena the stigmatic of Gonavila declared a Servant of God.


Infant Wimal Siri born on the 23rd of January 1969 was baptized by Rev. Fr. Richard Peiris, Assistant at Bolawatta at the time. He is anxiously waiting to attend the Episcopal Ordination on the 2nd of March. Then he could sing “Nunc Dimittis” with Simeon who sang so when Mary brought the infant Jesus to the Temple after the fortieth day of his birth. (Lk 2.29-32)



Boy Wimal Siri attended the school near the Bolawatta church named as Gonslavez Maha Vidyalaya. He received his first Holy Communion and joined the Altar Servers’ Association and started attending week day masses also. After receiving the sacrament of Confirmation he joined St. Paul’s Minor Seminary at Marawila and did his A/L studying at St.Xavier’s College. Then he was sent to Kalutara intermediate seminary for one year in preparation for the National Seminary at Ampitiya, Kandy.


After obtaining degrees, B.Ph. and B.Th., in 6 years he was ordained with three others as the youngest church of Our Lady of Seven Dolours at Nainamadama, on the 9th of August 1997. By then his parents had moved from Bolawatta to Daluwakotuwa. There his father, Don Lucas and mother, Dona ELizabeth passed away in 2004 and 2010 respectively. May they rest in peace!


After his ordination Father Wimal worked as an Assistant in Wennappuwa, Katuneriya and Talawila, the busiest parishes in our Diocese. Noticing his capabilities Bishop Marcus Fernando sent him to Rome for higher studies. Father Wimal started with Greek and Hebrew languages with a view to do a course on Scripture since there wasn’t anybody in the Diocese for that subject. Halfway through, His Lordship asked him to give it up and do Canon Law. He obeyed him immediately. After 6 years of serious studies he returned to the Diocese with a Ph.D. in Canon Law.


Immediately the Bishop made him the Judicial Vicar of the Diocese, as the Bishop had a big backlog of unfinished marriage cases to solve. Fr. Jayasuriya became a great solace to so many couples awaiting dissolution of their former marriages gone on the rocks so many years ago.


As a side effect of solving these cases Father Wimal could gather enough material to instruct the young couples on how to avoid such pitfalls. He started giving seminars called “Sevilla” (Search) for youngsters of both sexes before they decide on a partner. He visited four deaneries regularly. It became very popular among the youngsters. He believed that prevention is better than cure. He also organized three-wheeler (taxi) drivers into Associations and instructed them on how to improve their self-respect by being courteous and honest with their customers. The program continued for educated professionals as well. They were told that we are not owners but stewards of the earthly properties.


All these Pastoral abilities came to the surface more clearly when he was entrusted with organizing the Diocesan Synod held at Talawila for three days, 12 years ago. He visited all the Parishes, Priests and Laity together prior to that. It was like a prelude to the Synodal Church Vatican introduced to the whole world very recently.


After working for 7 years without a break, he had to go to the National Seminary in Kandy as the professor in Canon Law for 6 years. It covered various related subjects such as Pastoral Theology, Ecclesiology and Social Ethics. All his students, now priests in various Dioceses and Parishes admire his lectures as well as his simplicity and spirituality.




After working assiduously for 13 years without a break, he went to USA for 2-3 years on Sabbatical leave. There he worked as a Pastor in charge of 2 churches one with a soup kitchen for 450 poor people daily. Fort Wayne being a very rich parish he had no problem with funds. The rich people knew his sincerity and donated generously. He also worked as Judge in 2 marriage Tribunals.


There was an article on Fr. Jayasuriya written by one Erika Barren contributed to our local Catholic Messenger published on the 17th of December 2023. Compared to the reality, it was only a tip of an iceberg. There had been several articles published in USA newspapers locally circulated before and after his Silver Jubilee of ordination in August, 2022. His popularity increased immensely with the news of his being elected as the Bishop of Chilaw which was vacant for 2 years with the transfer of Bishop Valence Mendis to another Diocese. There was an avalanche of congratulatory messages arriving personally besides whatever was published in mass media.


Following is a summary of a letter written someone who followed Fr Wimal Siri very closely:


Fr Wimal Siri is first of all God fearing, prayerful, spiritual and pastoral minded. He is committed to any given task. He is responsible, lovable, friendly, simple, strict, silent, deeply humane, straightforward, reliable, compassionate, socially sensitive, sharp to understand others, creative, innovative, unassuming, welcoming, hospitable. He respects all cultures and people. He is capable of keeping secrets of others. He is generous, charitable, exemplary, well-organized, exposed to international cultures. Broad minded, down to earth, elegant in all dealings. He is efficient. He has no guile. He is sincere, he is a proven organizer and administrator both locally and internationally. He is kind hearted. He is a disciplinarian. He is a perfectionist. He is a visionary. He has no favorites, not even his family. He loves all equally, rich or poor, young or old. He has a soft corner for the marginalized and the suffering. He is well-mannered, gentlemanly. He is a creative thinker, good planner, good mentor who could guide others. He respects others. He is a lover of nature. He is a good athlete and a sportsman. He is a good listener. He upholds justice. He is a hard-worker, he can fit into any job. He leads by example. He admits his weaknesses. He looks proud but he is extremely humble and approachable. He is an enthusiastic student. He is a clever teacher. He is perhaps the youngest Sri Lankan priest who collected a doctorate at the age of 34. He is knowledgeable, very well educated, both secular and religious as well. He is a qualified, versatile, experienced, pastoral minded Canonist. He is also a sociologist qualified at Peradeniya University. He is a gentle judge. He is a good decision maker. He is not afraid of taking decisions. He excels discretionary power. He assesses people and situations very well. He is an all-rounder. He is a model priest, he practices what he preaches. He is a man of principle.  He is a leader who taps others’ resources. He is pastorally zealous. He is a type of shepherd who smells the sheep. He walks the talk and leads by example. He does what he says and says what he does. He is dearly loved by many. He is highly respected. But he likes to identify himself as a simple person. He is the one that most Priests and people wished and prayed for to be leading the Diocese of Chilaw. He is the God’s chosen one. He is like King David at his early stages. He was like Joseph in Egypt. He is our Bishop elect. We love him. We pray that God who deemed Msgr. Dr. Don Wimalsiri Jayasooriya to lead his flock in the Diocese of Chilaw Sri Lanka continue to protect and guide him and bless him with good health, body,soul and mind.




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