Passing on the Light: Celebrating 165 years of Catholic Education in Singapore

Message from Council of Catholic Schools’ Principals for Catholic Education Sunday
45, 624 students in Catholic schools, regardless of race, language or religion, 19 Catholic preschools and kindergartens, 16 Catholic primary schools, 13 Catholic secondary schools, 4 Catholic Full schools, 1 Catholic junior college and 1 Catholic school for special education.

In Singapore, Catholic schools have come a long way. Catholic education in Singapore started 165 years ago, when St John’s School (now known as St. Joseph’s Institution) was started to provide a Christian education to young boys. The school opened her doors in 1852, in a small chapel along Bras Basah Road and welcomed her first batch of 75 students, with the boys coming from different ethnic groups and religions.

The story of SJI is typical of all the Catholic schools in Singapore. Starting from small schools, they have all grown in size and stature. Today our schools are well regarded educational institutes. We live out our Catholic ethos, always focusing on the individual child while also developing all our students to be the unique individuals that God has created them to be, so that they will in turn use their gifts for the service of humanity.

To coordinate and help Catholic Schools in Singapore, the Archdiocesan Commission for catholic schools (ACCS) was established. The ACCS works closely with the schools to provide a range of programmes, events and resources to support Catholic educators and guide schools effort in promoting the Catholic ethos.

The Archdiocese has designated 10 September 2017 as Catholic Education Sunday. For the first time ever, we will be celebrating Catholic education as a community. This serves as an opportunity to affirm the importance of the partnership between School-Church-Home to deliver a unique Catholic education where Christ is the centre of all we do.

Over the weekend of 9th and 10th September, a special prayer of blessing will be said for all Catholic educators and there will be a screening of a short video montage on the impact of a Catholic education. Prayer cards will also be given to all parishioners and the call is for all who care for and who have benefited from a Catholic education to step forward to rally 165 others to pray for our schools.

Students from our Catholic schools will also be working in partnership with more than 12 designated parishes to help serve as lectors, wardens or to sing alongside with the choir at one of the masses. A mini exhibition booth on Catholic education in Singapore will also be set up to engage parishioners before and after this mass.

The precious heritage and the experience gained over the past 165 years reveals in the continued importance of raising our children in the Catholic faith. Under the continued guidance of the different religious orders, our Catholic schools maintain the Catholic ethos in many different ways. These range from daily prayers, masses, religious education to spiritual retreats. However, the most important element is the way the teachers and students interact, where the Gospel is brought to life.

As we experience the declining numbers of religious in our schools, there is a need for the lay people to step up and take on the task of continuing to build on the legacy of our Catholic schools. Catholic Education Sunday presents the perfect opportunity for all Catholics to come together to pray for our religious and educators serving in our Catholic schools that they will continue to pass on the light to our next generation.

Published in Catholic News on 3 Sep 2017