Bishop Cyril Linden Abeynaike

The 8th of May marked yet another death anniversary of Bishop Cyril.

He was born on the 21st of February, 1911. The then Editor of The Ceylon Churchman, making a reference to the appointment of Bishop Cyril, as the Archdeacon of Colombo, by Bishop Harold, in 1964, stated that Bishop Cyril had two birthdays, in that he was born at midnight on the 21st!!!

Bishop Cyril had his early education, at Royal College and thereafter, at the University College, in Colombo, where he did the London degree in History. He had his theological training in England, obtaining a BD from London. His command of the English language, was such, that, he was asked in England whether he had learnt the language on board, the ship, to England.

Before Bishop Cyril went to the U.K. for his theological studies, he was a student for a short period at the then Divinity School in Colombo.

On his return to Ceylon, on Trinity Sunday, in 1936, he was made a Deacon by the then Bishop of Colombo, Mark Carpenter Gamier. However, Bishop Cyril unlike most Deacons, didn’t seek Ordination as a Priest, till 1946, when he was ordained Priest by Bishop Douglas Horseley, on the Feast Day of S. Thomas’ in December.

During his Ministry, he worked at S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia, at the Kandy Central Itenerancy, Uva College, Badulla, Christ Church College, Wattegama, St. Mathias, Lakshapathiya, St. Michaels, Polwatte, Christ Church, Galle Face and St. Peters, Fort.

From the above list, it is very clear, that Bishop Cyril spent most of his years, in Education. He was a Master Teacher. It is said, that both when he, worked in our Schools, and in our Parishes, he used to take Groups of Students and Parishioners, to various parts of our Country, to learn the history of the People of Ceylon.

In the course of his Ministry, Bishop Abeynaike edited The Ceylon Churchman and also functioned as the General Manager of our Diocesan Schools. When he was the Archdeacon of Colombo, he was also the Principal of the Divinity School. He was the last Archdeacon of Colombo, to be the Principal of the Divinity School. On the death of Bishop Harold, Bishop Cyril was unanimously elected - the Bishop of Colombo, thus becoming perhaps, one of the two Bishops of Colombo, to be elected uncontested.

To the present writer, Bishop Cyril was only a name till January 1965. Before that, he was known, because of the links with Badulla and Wattegama.

When Bishop Cyril became the Principal of the Divinity School, the present writer became a student under him. Those years were great and wonderful years. As already stated Bishop Cyril was a great teacher. It is said that the two Bishops of the Church of Ceylon, at that time, Bishops Lakshman and Harold, used to ask Bishop Cyril to read the latest books and give them notes. This was certainly done by Bishop Cyril in reading and preparing notes on the writing of that Jesuit Priest, Teilahard de Chardain, very specially, the book, "The Phenomenon of Man". Bishop Cyril had the gift of communicating the most complicated thinking in a very simple manner. He was also well known for his short, but, good sermons.

Bishop Cyril kept in touch with his students till the very end. From time to time, he used to send us letters on significant subjects. He used to always send us post cards assuring us his prayers and good wishes on important occasions, in our lives.

We thank God for the life and work of Bishop Cyril of Colombo.

Sydney Knight