Colombo, January, 12th, 2018 (UCAN). Sri Lanka is mourning the death of a respected Catholic journalist and author who served the country’s daily English-language newspapers, Catholic weeklies and international media.

Hector Welgampola served as editor of the two Colombo-based Catholic weeklies in Sri Lanka, the English-language Messenger and Sinhalese-language Gnanartha Pradeepaya (lamp of wisdom). He was a senior columnist for the country’s Daily Mirror and Sunday Times.

He served as the very first secretary to the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference Office for Social Communications and was the editor of the South Asian Region News Bulletin.

He served as executive editor of UCA News from 1987 until his retirement in 2001. He also compiled the Asian Church Glossary and Stylebook and became the author of several local books.

Welgampola, 85, died early Jan. 6 in Brisbane, Australia.

“He joined the Colombo Catholic Press as a sub-editor and became an accomplished journalist. He then held the post of chief editor of both the weeklies,” said Bishop Oswald Gomis, Emeritus Archbishop of Colombo.

“Hector was an excellent writer both in English and Sinhalese. Having his own inimitable style, he wrote a few books in Sinhalese. Having served for many years in the field of active journalism, he retired and continued as a freelance journalist until recently,” said Bishop Gomis.

“He spent his retirement together with his wife, children and grandchildren in Australia.”

Father Lal Pushpadewa Fernando, national director of the Catholic Center for Social Communications, said Welgampola had been always a man of God, a God-fearing man who really loved the Catholic Church.

“He started his career as a young teacher and joined the Colombo Catholic Press as a sub-editor,” said Father Fernando.

Manush Samaranayake, a young journalist who worked with Welgampola, said the veteran had trained a group of young journalists and often started work at 3am.

“He was a teacher and inspiration to many young journalists and he served as a media man for professing the truth,” said Samaranayake, a Buddhist.