As Annites, we are incredibly lucky in so many ways. Among many reasons, one thing that we consider ourselves as lucky is that we have the privilege to associate so many exceptional reverend clergy members.
These clergy members are doing their noble works. Today we are talking about an extraordinary messenger of God who dedicated his entire life doing God’s work without expecting anything in return. Brother Placidus is an unsung hero. He never worked for fame. He instead works in silence. But this is St. Anne’s College and we are Annites, so we don’t let unsung heroes go unnoticed. So today, this tribute is for our beloved Reverend Brother Placidus Fernando.
He arrived at St. Anne's College in 2007 and departed in 2019, during which time he was in charge of the College hostel and tirelessly involved in linguistic works. Throughout his years at the College, we were blessed to have two exceptional Reverend Principal Brothers overseeing our institution: Rev. Bro. Denzil Mendis and Rev. Bro. Ernest Tarcisius.
Brother Placidus was at St. Anne's College when the dearly departed Brother Denzil Mendis passed away. He still vividly recalls the day of the incident, and shared that Brother Denzil was actively engaged in rehearsals for the upcoming Prize Giving Ceremony, giving instructions to our boys even on minor details like attire. The passing of Brother Denzil was a sudden and undoubtedly unexpected event. The news of Brother Denzil's death spread quickly, but for some, the news reached them without any further details. Brother Placidus later mentioned that he saw various missed calls on his phone, but he was too occupied with everything that was unfolding that day to check his phone. With subsequent calls also going unanswered, some people even thought that something had happened to Brother Placidus himself. Meanwhile, he also made special remarks about the support he and others involved in the funeral of Brother Denzil received from clergy members, old boys, staff, teachers, and parents alike. In addition, he highlighted the involvement of our current Principal, Reverend Father Chandana Hapuarachchi.
A person who is determined to better themselves can learn a lot of life lessons and gain support by associating with great individuals. However, there are some individuals who are so remarkable that you don't even have to know them personally, their mere presence can do wonders. Reverend Brother Placidus carries an aura that provides comfort for the people around him, which we experienced firsthand during our time at St. Anne's College.
It was a particularly hectic day at St. Anne's College, and we had been given a task with a very tight deadline. Naturally, the boys were feeling a bit stressed out due to the limited time. We were told to meet Brother Placidus, who was handling the final parts of the work, to discuss how we could complete the task. When we met him, it was our first encounter with the new Brother who had joined our College. The moment we saw him, we all felt a sense of calm wash over us. He was so composed and relaxed in the way he was carrying out his work that it had an immediate impact in easing our tensions. Even before he spoke a word, his presence had a profound impact on us. We had the opportunity to talk to him and his words were gentle and comforting, which helped to alleviate the stress we were feeling. Despite the fact that he was the one handling the most crucial parts of the work, he did so with a smile on his face. Thanks to his calming influence, we were able to finish the work before the deadline, despite the initial time constraint. This brief account illustrates the kind of nature Brother Placidus possesses and how impactful it can be.
Brother Placidus is an expert at accomplishing tasks with exceptional efficiency and precision. However, unless one is part of his team working collaboratively, it is rare for others to notice that he was the driving force behind the success. Brother Placidus is a silent powerhouse, who appears to work as if he were on a highly classified mission for an intelligence service. He never boasts about his achievements. Rather, he focuses on completing tasks, taking a step back to observe the positive impact they have, and then moving on to the next task, building on his experience.
Brother Placidus has the ability to make things virtually out of nothing. He possesses a remarkable ability to accomplish tasks with limited resources, collaborators, and time. This was evident when Brother Denzil Mendis entrusted him with overseeing the production of the St. Anne’s College Jubilee Magazine, which had a team of only four members. Despite the limited resources, Brother Placidus guided the team with care and was open to their ideas, creating a friendly and cordial environment that felt like a family. The team worked tirelessly, at times through long nights, and Brother Placidus's cordial nature and sense of humor kept them motivated and energized. Through their collective efforts, the magazine was completed and sent to the printing press in a short amount of time. On the day of completion, the team was jubilant with their achievement. However, saying goodbye to such a closely bonded team brought emotion of bittersweetness at the same time. During the production process, one article in particular presented a challenge. It was about the College hostel, which Brother Placidus was in charge of. Unlike every other section in the magazine that featured the person in charge, Brother Placidus had made the decision not to include his photograph in the article. This was the only time during the entire process where the team disagreed with Brother Placidus. After much effort, the team was able to persuade him to include his photo. This anecdote exemplifies Brother Placidus's selflessness and commitment to his work. He accomplishes his tasks with silent dedication, always giving his all without seeking recognition or praise. His level of humility and service to others is truly exemplary of the best of humanity.
Even though Brother Placidus does not seek recognition, he often credits others and encourages those around him to acknowledge the deserving individuals.
Since he was a child, becoming a Reverend Brother had been Brother Placidus's lifelong aspiration, which he fulfilled at the age of 18. He still recalls the heavenly sensation he experienced upon donning the clergyman's attire, a feeling that has remained with him ever since. Brother Placidus's knowledge is vast, covering diverse fields such as faith, spirituality, academics, sports, economics, and global geopolitics. A brief conversation with him can provide insights that are equivalent to years' worth of knowledge.
Brother Placidus joined our college just one year after retiring from an illustrious 38-year career in academic service. He began as a teacher at St. Benedict’s College in 1968, and culminated his career as Principal of St. Joseph's College, Grandpass in 2006, after teaching at De Mazenod College, Kandana and Uva College Badulla, and serving as principal of De La Salle College, Colombo and St. Mary's College, Chilaw. Though officially retired, Brother Placidus never left academic service, and we at St. Anne's College feel privileged to have benefitted from his knowledge and passion for getting things done. Whether officially on staff or not, he gives his all to enriching the lives of our students, and to his other noble endeavors, as was apparent during his time with us.
Brother Placidus treasures the opportunity he has had to work in numerous schools, collaborate with many Brothers, teachers, students, and parents, and form lasting connections with them. He holds a special place in his heart for St. Anne’s College and the meaningful experiences he had during his time there. He emphasized that our boys are clever and creative.
Despite holding numerous high-level positions throughout his career, Brother Placidus has always remained humble and grounded. His exceptional leadership and mentorship qualities were consistently demonstrated during his years at St. Anne's College.
Brother Placidus emphasized that many problems in society today stem from two main factors: (a) a tendency for people to try various random acts rather than focusing on effective solutions, and (b) a lack of attention and opportunities for those who are capable of finding and executing those solutions. He is a person who not only talks the talk but also walks the walk, as evidenced by his practical application of his beliefs, which can lead to success wherever he goes.
Brother Placidus is often described as a person with "cool demeanor", radiating a contagious happiness that makes you forget about the troubles of the real world. He generously shared his secret to happiness, which is practicing forgiveness, letting go of grudges, and savoring the present moment. He also advised people to avoid being hard on others and even themselves. He once quipped, "I even laugh at my own mistakes sometimes."
Brother Denzil and Brother Tarcisius held an unwavering faith in Brother Placidus. Their trust was so sincere that when Brother Tarcisius left the college in 2019, he took Brother Placidus with him. It's not surprising, given that great people tend to stick together.
Today, we have examined the life of Brother Placidus Fernando from the perspective of a member of the St. Anne's College community. However, there are countless stories about him that could be shared by students from the other schools where he served. In fact, given the significant impact he had on our college despite not working here in an official capacity, others may have even more to say about him.
Different individuals have varying perspectives and beliefs regarding the ultimate goal in life or the purpose of our existence. These viewpoints can be shaped by numerous factors, such as one's faith, experiences, and background. While it is important for everyone to find their own meaning and purpose in life, Brother Placidus, through his life journey, has shown us a meaningful answer to life's purpose that most people can embrace. It is to work diligently for the love of humanity, without expecting any personal gain in return. When you work with this mindset, you forget about the toil and challenges, and things start to fall into place. At the end of your journey, you can look back with a sense of accomplishment for your contributions to a noble cause. This is what we learned from his great life. Brother Placidus did God's work his entire life and walked off into the sunset.
It's often a challenge to encapsulate the life of the Greats. Their lives are rich with experiences and achievements that could fill numerous volumes of reporting. This is certainly the case with Reverend Brother Placidus Fernando. Although this is not an exhaustive biography of his life, it is a tribute to honor his remarkable journey. And what better time to pay tribute than on his birthday?
Yesterday (March 11), we celebrated the memorable moment of Reverend Brother Placidus Fernando's 75th birthday. We express our heartfelt appreciation for his exemplary life of service and dedication to the betterment of all. Brother Placidus has made an immeasurable difference in so many lives, including ours, and we feel truly blessed to have him in our lives as a messenger of God. We wish him a very happy birthday and pray that the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ continue to shine upon him, granting him good health, long life, and further happiness. We are immensely grateful to Brother Placidus for his tireless and selfless work, and for his role in making the world a better place.
Side Note: To the left of the birthday graphic accompanying this report, you can see a moment when our former Principal, Reverend Brother Ernest Tarcisius, and Reverend Brother Placidus Fernando were seen cutting a ribbon at a College function. Both of them hold a special place in the hearts of the Annites family.