After six years of dedication to the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS) and its development, our Executive Director, Wendy Louis, will step down today, 9 December.
It has certainly been a challenging calling to guide the ACCS in its duty – to foster a stronger Catholic ethos amongst Catholic schools in Singapore. However taking a look at the achievements and work accomplished by ACCS thus far with Wendy as director, one can truly find a testimony of God’s grace working through her and the ACCS team.
Always keeping in mind that her work is for God, Wendy describes, “the most important thing we can do in our schools is to put across the person of Jesus, in our own person, and in the way the whole school is organised and run. We have nothing and no one else to offer as Catholic Schools if we do not offer Christ and the saving love He offers.”
Three major challenges
After conducting an extensive survey in 2008 on the needs of Catholic schools in Singapore, the ACCS set out on three difficult but much needed tasks; developing School Chaplaincy Teams (SCT), a common Civics and Moral Education Programme (CMECS), and a set of common goals and purpose for Catholic schools.
Numerous meetings conducted by ACCS with clergy groups, principals, supervisors, and management teams, have aided in the formation of chaplaincy teams in all Catholic schools in Singapore today, while formation programmes are also run annually to support new chaplains or to bring new personnel on board.
During the development of the CMECS, Wendy worked hard with the Secondary project director of ACCS to write, produce, conduct trial runs, coordinate, and edit a programme that promotes gospel values and attitudes. A four-year curriculum for secondary students was designed and delivered to schools at the end of 2013.
In 2011, a document detailing the common vision of Catholic education was published and distributed, enabling Catholic schools in Singapore to be able to work together as a family toward a shared vision.
Wendy, together with other ACCS staff, had spent three years in consulting, drafting statements, and re-writing the document based on feedback from every strata of school management and leadership, as well as consulting authorities.
On top of accomplishing these three major goals, Wendy also led the ACCS team to push the limits even further, in taking on five other projects.
These include improving the Catholic Early Childhood sector, organising the Catholic Education Conference, gaining a greater online presence through the ACCS website and social media, gathering a database of Principals, VPs, and teachers of Catholic schools, and finally launching a new initiative to run induction programmes for newly appointed school leaders.
Wendy reveals, “What motivates me is always the same, no matter what work I am doing – my daily dependence on God and my act of faith in the Church.”
It is evident that Wendy’s passion has also touched the lives of those who worked with her. Katherine Menalang, Office Manager of ACCS, recalls fondly, “Wendy and I were at the Post Office once, where she greeted everyone she encountered with a smile or a simple ‘hi’. Despite coming from a culture where this might seem unusual, I realized that Wendy carries a welcoming aura wherever she goes. I learned that she is a very compassionate person who is deeply concerned with the staff’s wellbeing inside and outside the office.”
Chairman of ACCS, Professor Tan Cheng Han, also expresses, “Wendy has a passionate heart and has done a great deal to help our schools to preserve their Catholic character. I am grateful for her energy and fortitude despite many difficulties faced in her role.”
Fr Edward Seah, Archbishop’s representative for ACCS, describes Wendy as someone “sincere and not afraid to say what she felt was right and good”. He thanks her for her dedication and for “working hard for Catholic education through ACCS, always ensuring that the Commission’s goals were met.”
After stepping down, Wendy plans to continue serving God in the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) office of Laity and Family, as well as the Women’s Desk.
She relates, “I look forward to more engagement on family, marriage and women’s issues as we prepare for the Family Synod of 2015. I am thankful for the support shown to me by my colleagues and collaborators during my time here.”