Our Catholic Schools by Congregation
Brothers of the Christian Schools – De La Salle Brothers
The De La Salle Brothers, or Brothers of the Christian Schools (FSC, Fratres Scholarum Christianarum), were invited by Father Jean-Marie Beurel to start a mission school for boys in Singapore. Six Christian Brothers journeyed from France with Fr Beurel and four Infant Jesus Sisters, founding a free school at Bras Basah Road called St John’s School on 22 July 1852, the third-oldest Singaporean secondary school. With the laying of the cornerstone on 19 March 1855, the Feast of St Joseph, the school was renamed St Joseph’s Institution. Now, the Brothers have also established St Anthony’s Primary School, St Joseph’s Institution Junior (formerly St Michael’s School), St Stephen’s School, St Patrick’s School, De La Salle School, St Joseph’s Institution International and the Lasalle College of the Arts.
Full School and Independent School
Canossian Daughters of Charity
The Canossian Sisters, or Canossian Daughters of Charity (FDCC, Figlie Della Carità Canossiane), founded Canossaville Children’s Home in 1941, providing accommodation for girls in need. In 1956, they established a boarding school, Canossian School for the Deaf. That year, Sr Natalia Tasca FDCC gathered a group of six to work with her – this was the beginning of the Lay Canossians, which now number over a hundred.
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
Good Shepherd Sisters Mother Mary Ligouri Bourke and Sr Mary of St Alphonsus Mooney arrived in Singapore on 12 December 1939 from Ceylon (Sri Lanka); they were later joined by Sr Mary of St Dympna Brady and Sr M. Columba Canon. After establishing a convent, they began various ministries in education and social welfare. They sheltered teenaged girls in need at the Good Shepherd Home. During World War II, the Sisters were sent to Bahau, Malaysia with other POWs, where they started a kindergarten. After the War they returned to Singapore and opened a home for post-war orphans at Marymount. In 1958 they opened Marymount Convent School, a primary school for girls. As more mothers joined the workforce, the Good Shepherd Sisters also began providing before and after-school care at the Marian Centre.
The Catholic Church is the largest educational organisation in the world. Although schools have mainly been founded and maintained by religious orders dedicated to teaching, dioceses also support schools, in particular parish schools throughout various countries. In Singapore, we do not have schools attached to parishes, but we do have a few schools under the direct care of the Archdiocese. Holy Innocents’ School used to be an IJ school, and Catholic High was a Marist school for some years after its founding by an MEP (Paris Foreign Missions) priest. Catholic Junior College was founded in 1975 by Archbishop Michel Olçomendy to centralise pre-university Catholic education.
Franciscan Missionaries of Mary
The first three Franciscan Missionaries of Mary arrived in Singapore on 1 May 1953 on the Tabian, which left Genoa, Italy on 30 March. Three more soon came from Macau. With the help of Mr Ee Peng Liang and Father Duquet, the sisters bought a property on Holland Road, founding Maris Stella Kindergarten. The Sisters set up kindergartens, a vocational school for girls, a secondary school for farmers’ daughters in Upper Serangoon (now Hai Sing – Star of the Sea – Catholic School in Pasir Ris), mobile dispensaries for the poor, a vestments workshop, and also provided private tuition, social services and catechesis. They currently have four convents throughout Singapore.
Marist Brothers of the Schools
The Marist Brothers arrived in Singapore in 1949, teaching at St Teresa Sino-English School, the school of St Teresa’s Parish. In 1949, four of them began to teach at Catholic High. Finally, in 1958 Brother Joche Chanel founded Maris Stella High School because of the overwhelming demand for places in Catholic High. They borrowed the premises of the LaSallian St Stephen’s School in the afternoons for several years, until 1967 when they were able to move into their own building. They also collaborated with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary on Maris Stella Kindergarten, started in the early 1970s.
Montfort Brothers of St Gabriel
The first Gabrielite Brothers in Singapore came from Thailand, invited by Bishop Adrien Devals of Malacca. During the Japanese Occupation, the Canadian Brothers were interred at Changi Prison as prisoners of war, while the others were sent to camps in Bahau, Malaysia.
In Changi Prison, Gabrielite Brother Vincent shared his vision of a boys’ home with a fellow prisoner, Australian philanthropist William T. McDermott. After the war, they founded Boys’ Town for impoverished youth orphaned by the war.
The Gabrielite schools in Singapore have produced the highest number of priests, including Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Chia and current Archbishop William Goh.
Sisters of the Infant Jesus
Father Jean-Marie Beurel invited the Infant Jesus Sisters to found a mission school for girls in Singapore. Along with the LaSallian Brothers, the Sisters arrived in 1854 after an arduous journey by ship (one sister perished along the way). They founded both a school, known as “the town convent”, and an orphanage for abandoned babies at Victoria Street. Over the years, eleven Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus schools have been established throughout Singapore. When given the choice between a wealthy and a poor suburb after being moved on from the town convent, the Sisters chose to serve the poor in Toa Payoh.