The original Diocese of Galle comprised the Southern and Sabaragamuwa civil Provinces. As such it extended from the foot – hills of Utuwankanda to the coastal parish of Hambantota, covering an area of 4038,75 Sq miles of the most varied aspect from the point of view of scenery, population and pastoral engagements.
Patron Saint of The Diocese of Galle
The diocese was established in 1893 as a first and immediate step to making it a distinct ecclesiastical unit. Till that, in fact, the Southern and Sabaragamuwa Provinces had been just a portion of the Archdiocese of Colombo (1887) and earlier of the “Southern Vicariate of Ceylon” (1847). However, right back into the time of Blessed Joseph Vaz and his oratorian disciples and still earlier in Portuguese times (mid 16th Century) stations in its coastal fringe as well as in its Ratnapura reaches are on record for fruitful Evangelization and advanced pastoral structure.
After the division of the Diocese in 1995 into Ratnapura, nearly 9000 Catholics are still spread unevenly across the hills and dales and beaches of the Galle Diocese. The present diocese of Galle has a geographical area, comprising of the Southern Province embracing Galle, Matara and Hambantota civil districts having an area of 5493 Km*. The membership of the Presbyterium counts 28 Priests of whom 24 diocesans and four Religious and serve in 12 parishes and other institutions of Diocesan Apostolates. Nearly 90 Religious Sisters extend their supportive hands in serving the people of God in Ruhunu Rata Diocese.
On the Anniversary of the Establishment of the Diocese of Galle, with love and gratitude we remember our first Bishop, Rt. Rev. DR. Joseph van Reeth SJ who guided the destinies of the infant diocese from 1893 to 1923. Rt. Rev. Dr. Gaston Robchez SJ, the Bishop of Trincomalee and Apostolic Administrator of Galle for 10 long years (1923 – 1933) who lovingly continued the work of his predecessor had started. Rt. Rev. Dr. Nicholas Laudadio SJ took up the responsibilities of the diocese from where the former left and worked untiringly for 30 years. Having ended the Jesuit era, the first ever Diocesan Bishop, Rt. Rev. Dr. Anthony De Saram arrived from Colombo to render the yeomen service that he extended to the diocese for a period that lasted from 1964 to 1982. With his demise, Rt. Rev. Dr. Don Sylvester arrived from Colombo to continue the work of diocesan era from 1982 to 1993. May they rest in peace.
In 1993 Very Rev. Msgr. Elmo Noel Joseph Perera, a Priest from the diocese itself who knew his sheep well, was installed the Bishop of Galle. He served the diocese with love and humility till his retirement in 1995.Very Rev.Fr. Terrence Leanage took over the affairs of the diocese as the Apostolic Administrator until the new Bishop, Rt. Rev. Dr. Harold Anthony Perera was installed the Bishop of the diocese of Galle on 8th March 2005. With the experience he gained as the Bishop of Ratnapura, his love and loyalty to the Church and his concern for his flock will make him more dedicated, competent and enthusiastic in carrying out the mission of Jesus in a missionary diocese like Galle.
After serving the Diocese for nearly 04 years, it was in 2009 that Bishop Harold was transferred and appointed to the Diocese of Kurunegala as the 02nd Bishop, which became vacant after the retirement of Bishop Raymond Peiris. The Diocese of Galle remained vacant without a Bishop until 2011. It was in 2011 that the Vatican appointed Rt. Rev. Dr. Raymond Wickrmasinghe, a priest from the Diocese itself, as the Bishop of Galle while teaching at the National Seminary of Our Lady of Lanka. Bishop Raymond was installed and consecrated as the Seventh Bishop of Galle on 31st August, 2011 at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral, Galle by His Eminence Malcom Cardinal Ranjith, The Archbishop of Colombo.