Thomas Cooray

His Eminence
Thomas Benjamin Cooray
Servant of God
Archbishop Emeritus of Colombo
Church Roman Catholic Church
Archdiocese Colombo
Metropolis Colombo
See Colombo
Predecessor Jean-Marie Masson, O.M.I.
Successor Nicholas Fernando
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of Santi Nereo e Achilleo (1965-1988)
Ordination 23 June 1929
Consecration 14 December 1945
by Leo Peter Kierkels
Created Cardinal 22 February 1965
by Pope Paul VI
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name Thomas Benjamin Cooray
Born (1901-12-28)December 28, 1901
Negombo, Ceylon
Died 29 October 1988(1988-10-29) (aged 86)
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Buried Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka
Previous post
  • Titular Archbishop of Perslavus (1945-1947)
  • Coadjutor Archbishop of Colombo (1945-1947)
  • President of the Sri Lankan Episcopal Conference (1970-1977)
Motto Ministrare non ministrari ("To serve, not to be served")
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Title as Saint Servant of God

Thomas Benjamin Cooray (Sinhala language: තෝමස් බෙන්ජමින් කුරේ), O.M.I. (28 December 1901 29 October 1988) was a Sri Lankan cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who served as the Archbishop of Colombo from 1947 to 1976, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1965 by Pope Paul VI.

His cause of canonization commenced in 2010 and he has been bestowed with the title of Servant of God.


Early life and priesthood

Thomas Benjamin Cooray was born to a poor but religious family in Negombo, and attended St. Aloysius Seminary in Borella, and St. Joseph's College and University College in Colombo before going to Rome, where he studied at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), obtaining a doctorate in philosophy summa cum laude. After entering the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, he was ordained to the priesthood on June 23, 1929. Finishing his Roman studies in 1931, he then did pastoral work in Colombo until 1945, whilst teaching at St. Joseph's College and serving as a university chaplain. He also became rector of the Oblate seminary in Sri Lanka.


On December 14, 1945, Cooray was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Colombo and Titular Archbishop of Preslavus by Pope Pius XII. He received his episcopal consecration on March 7, 1946 from Archbishop Leo Kierkels, with Bishops Edmund Peiris, OMI, and Bernardo Regno, OSB, serving as co-consecrators. Cooray succeeded the late Jean-Marie Masson, OMI, as Archbishop of Colombo on July 26, 1947, becoming the first local-born head of the see. During his tenure as Archbishop, he "favored a respectful dialogue with the Buddhists and with other Christians".[1] From 1962 to 1965, he attended the Second Vatican Council, at which he supported the Coetus Internationalis Patrum.[2]

Cardinalate and death

Pope Paul VI created him Cardinal Priest of Santi Nereo e Achilleo in the consistory of February 22, 1965. Cooray, the first Sri Lankan member of the College of Cardinals, resigned as Colombo's archbishop on September 2, 1976, after a period of twenty-nine years. He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the conclaves of August and October 1978, which selected Popes John Paul I and John Paul II respectively, and the first Sri Lankan to participate in the election of a Pope.

Whenever he came to his native town, he would visit his mother's grave.

Cooray died at age 86. He is buried in the crypt of the Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka, whose completion he oversaw.[3]

Cause of beatification

In the first step towards sainthood, Pope Benedict XVI declared him to be a Servant of God on 22 November 2010 after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints gave its approval to begin the canonization cause.

Styles of
Thomas Cooray
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Colombo (Emeritus)


  1. New York Times. Thomas B. Cooray, Cardinal, 86 November 1, 1988
  2. SSPXAsia. Some Historical Landmarks in the History of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka
  3. St. Lucia's Cathedral

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Jean-Marie Masson, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Colombo
Succeeded by
Nicholas Fernando
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 6/1/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.