Following a successful Catholic Education Conference 2021, we are proud to present a five-part series based on Archbishop William Goh’s address at the conference. In part 1, we recall the legacy of our Catholic schools’ founders, the missionaries who sacrificed everything to answer God’s call to bring the Gospel to the ends of the Earth, serving our local community by providing quality education and human formation.
A Missionary Legacy
In the past, Catholic schools had a major role in the spread of the Catholic faith.
We know that our Catholic schools were very often supported by foreign missionaries. We see all the brothers and sisters who have started Catholic education in Singapore: the Infant Jesus Sisters, Good Shepherd Sisters, Marist Brothers, Brothers of St Gabriel, La Salle Brothers, Canossians, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Sisters, and [we also have] our diocesan schools [such as] Holy Innocents’ High School and Catholic High School. The foreign missionaries came to Singapore two hundred years ago, in order to give their lives to us and to bring us the faith.
And so, as we are celebrating this 200th anniversary, it is important that we are not just trying to celebrate our achievements – what is more important is that the celebration is to be in gratitude to our founding fathers and mothers.
When we celebrate the past, the whole purpose of celebrating it is in order to remind us of what our forefathers have done, so that we can continue their legacy. I think it’s very important for us in this celebration, to really call to mind the spirit of our founders, who have given their lives.
The greatest gratitude we can give to someone, is to honour them by continuing the work that they begun, and that is why it is important for us during this celebration to return to the roots of our founders. We need to rediscover their apostolic and missionary zeal – what it is that gave them the impetus to sacrifice their lives for us all.
Without the missionaries, without the Catholic schools, we would not be where we are today, because when the foreign missionaries came to Singapore, the brothers and sisters, they came not just to provide us with a good education. Of course, that is important, but their ultimate goal was to save us, to give us fullness of life; it was not just concerned with academic performance, it was principally concerned with imparting Gospel values that can help us to live a meaningful life by having faith in Jesus.
- Teachers – how do you incorporate the charisms of your school’s founders in your everyday work?
- Students – how do you make the best of your education? Are there key virtues which you can exercise in school and at home?
- Parents – how do you support the mission of your child’s school? Are there certain values which you prize in your child’s education?