Fr. Brian Jayawardhana

Fr. Brian Jayawardhana

August 25, 2014

EDMONTON – In a four-minute video prepared by Catholic Social Services, Oblate Father Brian Jayawardhana was described as a man of integrity, faith and compassion.

In that same video, a Bible verse selected to describe the beloved priest was Micah 6.8: "loves tenderly, acts justly, walks humbly with his God."

Jayawardhana died July 17 at the Edmonton General Hospital at the age of 76.

He was born in Sri Lanka in 1938 and ordained to the priesthood for the Oblates Dec. 16, 1964, in Rome. He would have celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest in December.

The Oblate held master's degrees in both philosophy and theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome.


He began serving Catholic Social Services upon his arrival to Canada in 1976. He furthered his studies at the University of Alberta, earning another master's degree, this one in educational psychology.

Jayawardhana was honoured with the Msgr. Bill Irwin Award of Excellence at Catholic Social Services' annual meeting in June.

The organization gave him its top award because of his academic contributions to the study of people with developmental disabilities and for his exceptional service to CSS and the community as a whole.

His research was published around the world, and he often spoke at global conferences in the area of intelligence measurement of developmentally disabled adults.

Due to serious illness, Jayawardhana was unable to receive the award directly. Diagnosed with cancer in 2011, he was living in palliative care at the time of his death.


Over the years his roles with CSS included chaplain, psychologist and family therapist, volunteer coordinator, religious education coordinator, and coordinator of a residence for intellectually challenged adults.

Jayawardhana had also been the associate pastor at St. Albert Parish for 18 years. He was also pastor of the Edmonton Archdiocese's Native Pastoral Centre for three years.

A world traveler, he was fluent in seven languages. He taught at several colleges, seminaries and universities in Canada and Asia.

He enjoyed exclusive audiences with Pope Paul VI and Pope St. John Paul II.

Jayawardhana published a volume of poetry and a short story collection. Blessed with an excellent singing voice, he recorded a music CD with his niece Liesel.


Father Mike McCaffery described Jayawardhana as "a wise and compassionate person who truly embodies humble and selfless service to others. He has ministered to countless clients and staff, including their family members, in time of crisis, at their deathbeds and at their marriage celebrations."

Jayawardhana's funeral was held at St. Charles Church on July 23, with an internment afterwards at St. Albert Catholic Cemetery.

Father Brian is survived by the members of his religious community, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate; nieces, nephews and many friends. He was predeceased by his parents, Samuel Peter Jayawardhana and Nita Kathleen Perera, and his brother, Linus.