Down Memory Lane With Capt Irenaeus

From: Eric Motha

Sent: Monday, February 13, 2012 11:31 AM

Capt Irenaeus is the elder brother of our Bens stalwart Gaston Rajakaruna in Calgary.
The article was published in the Sunday Leader over the week-end.


Down Memory Lane With Capt Irenaeus

Irenaeus with Eric in Vancouver

Recently some of us had the pleasant surprise of a visit to Vancouver by Irenaeus Ferdinandusz the former Benedictine athlete and took the opportunity to reminisce of our student days at St. Benedict’s on a wave of nostalgia cherishing the education we received under the tutelage of the De La Salle Brothers with emphasis on the College motto “Religio Mores Cultura”.
Irenaeus Ferdinandusz had his early education at De La Salle, Mutwal and thereafter proceeded to St. Benedict’s College, Kotahena where he was a student from 1950 to 1959.
During his student days at St. Benedict’s, the premier educational institution of the De La Salle Brothers in Sri Lanka, Irenaeus proved his mettle in athletics being crowned Juvenile Champion ( 1952) Junior ( 1954) and Joint Senior Champion in 1957 establishing College records in Long Jump, Triple Jump and 440 yards events. It was a remarkable achievement for Irenaeus establishing 8 College records during 1952 to 1957 when he reigned supreme in track & field. It is also relevant to mention that his younger brother Gaston Rajakaruna annexed the Junior Championship in 1957 sprinting with finesse.
Irenaeus, in addition to his prowess at athletics played cricket at the under14, 16 & 2nd X1 levels. He was a student of good ranking in the Commercial stream and Prefect for 2 years in recognition of his achievements. I had the privilege of being a classmate of Irenaeus during the early to mid 50’s and could well recall his versatility in the disciplines of academics and extra curricular activities. Ireneaus paid tribute to his coach at St. Benedict’s Aldo Abeysena, also a former Senior Athletic Champion and the unfailing advice proffered by his teacher Mr. JF Jegarajasingham and the redoubtable Jayantha Seneviratne who won the Public Schools Pole Vault for College in 1953. He also recalled his feat in outclassing the firm favourite Maurice Fairweather in the 220 yds. event at the Mercantile Athletic Championships in 1961, establishing a new Meet record.
On leaving school, Irenaeus joined Colombo Agencies and had a 4 year stint prior to embarking on a career at sea in November ‘63, sailing as a Cadet on an American research vessel, before migrating to Denmark on September 09,1964. Irenaeus referred to his excellent performance at the famed Nautical College in SVENDBORG having secured 71 out of a possible 84 marks in an array of 12 subjects. The success saga continued with Irenaeus sailing the oceans over a record 33 years before dropping anchor and opting at the age of 65 to siphon his innate talents to the role of a Nautical teacher and introducing the study of Danish & English languages to refugees in Odense & Nyborg.
In his retired life Irenaeus has diligently focussed on completing his 450 page thesis titled “Mind the Mind” which he will defend for his PhD in Moral Philosophy either in UK or Denmark, the land of his domicile. He intends publishing this in the form of a book to harness funds for the philanthropic “Live to Give” project initiated by him in Odense. Irenaeus has always been imbued with a deep yearning to assist the less fortunate and marginalised in society in Sri Lanka, India, Sierra Leone amongst other countries. “Mind the Mind” is a tribute to the great Dane Hans Christian Anderson and in memory of some former iconic world leaders and his beloved mother Ethelreda. He is looking for a publisher in USA, UK or Canada with the sole intent of utilising monies from the sale for his mission to the poor.
Irenaeus, citing a worthy deed, remembered rescuing a stranded fisherman from Trinidad drifting at sea for 17 days in the North Caribbean bereft of any food when the ship under his command was on a run to Rotterdam from Guatemala. In this act of helping someone in distress Capt. Irenaeus entrusted the stranger to the American Coast Guard. A year later when his ship anchored at Port of Spain the grateful individual and his wife rushed to greet and express their profound gratitude to the Captain for his noble deed, a clear example of his vision to help those in need sans any fanfare but wholly inspired by the desire to serve fellow human beings in the spirit of humility and brotherhood. During his stint sailing the oceans for 33 years Irenaeus had visited 171 countries and approximately 800 harbours across the globe as Sailor, 2nd Mate, Chief Mate and Master Mariner (Captain).
He had made over 20 visits to the country of his birth and perhaps takes refuge in the famous quote of W S Senior:
“My heart you will break with longing.
For it can never be goodbye”

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