Four new principals of Catholic schools in Singapore were commissioned by Archbishop William Goh on Saturday, 24 January 2015, in a special commissioning mass organised by the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS).
The new principals are Mr Wilbur Wong, Montfort Junior School; Mr Mark Gerard Minjoot, Montfort Secondary School, Mdm Soh Lai Leng, Catholic High School; and Mr Kevin Hannah, SJI International Elementary School.
More than a hundred family members, friends, educators, colleagues, students and fellow principals attended the mass, held at the chapel of St Joseph Institution International.
Children of God
In his homily, Archbishop William pointed out that all three readings of the day coincidentally speaks about a vocation in life. He reminded those present that every human person ultimately “has a vocation to be a child of God, who share in the life and love of God.”
Citing examples from the three readings, Archbishop William affirms that, “at the end of the day, everybody who is called to proclaim the good news, must be at the service of truth and love.” He further questions, “Isn’t education a pursuit of truth and love?”
He explains that a Catholic school provides beyond simply an academic formation, but also human, moral, psychological, and most importantly, spiritual formation, pointing out that, “This is what makes a person human. Because every human person who has a soul, is seeking for God ultimately. In every person, the heart is restless.”
The principal and bishop
After reminding educators that every student is called to be a child of God, and the holistic approach of a Catholic education, Archbishop addressed the principals directly, “My dear principals, although your ultimate target, your audience, is your students, your immediate target is in fact your teachers and those who work directly under you. It’s like being a bishop actually.”
He elaborates further, “As a bishop, my audience is the entire people of God. But I can’t reach out to every single person in my life! Yes I preach to big crowds, I make appearances, but I cannot journey with everyone personally. So who will be my mouthpiece? My priests. Therefore it is the duty of the bishop to ensure that his priests are formed, and his priests are aligned to the mission of the church.”
Building on this point, Archbishop William hopes that principals, Catholic educators, and those working in Catholic schools, may continue to build their faith and hold onto Catholic principles, “because we cannot give what we do not have.”
Archbishop William concludes his homily by empowering those working in Catholic schools, that they should not be afraid to teach and guide students according to Christian values, because “the very fact that parents have chosen to send their child to a Catholic school, means they are saying ‘this is a good place for my child’.”
At the end of the homily, all principals and vice-principals present were invited to recite a prayer of commitment, and received a blessing from the Archbishop.
Mr Wilbur Wong, Montfort Junior School, was previously the Deputy Director for the Engagement & Research Division at the Ministry of Education, and before that he was principal of Telok Kurau Primary from 2005 to 2013.
Some key priorities he sees in his role as principal are, “to understand the needs of my students, staff and parents and continue to build on the good work of my predecessors. To ensure that Montfort Junior School continues in the tradition of St Louis Marie de Montfort and develop each Montfortian to be a ‘Man for Others’.”
Mr Mark Gerard Minjoot, Montfort Secondary School, was previously the principal of Greendale Secondary School from 2008 to 2014, and before that a vice-principal at Victoria School, as well as Deyi Secondary School.
Mdm Soh Lai Leng, Catholic High School, was previously principal of Holy Innocent’s High School for six years, and before that she was vice-principal at Marsiling Secondary School, as well as Naval Base Secondary School.
“I am happy to be back in the Catholic school family, and also excited because this new role is different and interesting. It will be a totally different environment for me, because this is an all-boy’s school as well as both primary and secondary levels,” Mdm Soh describes.
Mr Kevin Hannah, SJI International Elementary School, is Australian and has worked in Perth, Jakarta, London, Kuala Lumpur, and most recently, was Head of Junior School at All Hallows School in Somerset, UK.
Mr Hannah, who has been working in Catholic schools for most of his career, describes, “Once I committed to becoming a teacher there was never any doubt that I would end up in Catholic education. An education system that is underpinned by the Gospels, that emphasises the uniqueness of every child and with a pastoral system based on forgiveness resonates with me.”