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Respected former editor of UCAN dead at 85

COLOMBO (UCAN): Hector Welgampola, executive editor of UCAN from 1987 until he retired in December 2001, died on January 6 in Brisbane, Australia. He was 85-years-old.
The Sri-Lankan journalist was editor of the country’s two Colombo-based Catholic weeklies, the English-language Messenger and Sinhalese-language Gnanartha Pradeepaya (Lamp of Wisdom). He was also a senior columnist for the Daily Mirror and Sunday Times.
Welgampola was the 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 also compiled the Asian Church Glossary and Stylebook and was the author of several local books.
“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,” Bishop Oswald Gomis, the retired archbishop of Colombo recalled.
“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,” the bishop said, noting, “He spent his retirement together with his wife, children and grandchildren in Australia.”
Father Lal Pushpadewa Fernando, national director of the Catholic Centre for Social Communications, said Welgampola had been always a man of God who really loved the Church.
Manush Samaranayake, a young journalist who worked with Welgampola, said the veteran had trained young journalists and often started work at 3.00am.
“He was a teacher and inspiration to many young journalists and he served as a media man for professing the truth,” said Samaranayake.

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