Sunday, January 17, 2016

Celebrating Montfort Schools Centennial

 "Celebrating our past. Charting the future."

Yesterday was not our normal Saturday routine. I was up and about by 530am preparing the boys to be in school before 715am. What's the special occasion? Their schools (Montfort Junior School and Montfort Secondary School) were kicking up the centennial year with a mass held at the Church of the Nativity, which was beside the former location of the schools. And they were both part of the school choir/chorale. What an honor to be able to take part in this special centennial celebration.

Being a part of the Centennial Celebration Mass was something our family would not miss. So my husband and I were there at the church 30 minutes before the mass started and got better seats. Although it was not as close to the choir where we could see our boys sing songs of praise but we were there nonetheless. I took a photo of them before the mass started.
our boys singing their hearts out in this very special centennial celebration
Montfortians and former Montfortians (alumni) were key role players during the mass celebration. Archbishop William Goh (a proud Montfortian) officiated and was joined by several priests from Singapore. Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang, another former Montfortian, flew to Singapore specially for the occasion. Principals of both schools served as the readers. Another former Montfortian, whose voice was like that of an angel's, was the cantor. The MSS Chorale and MJS Choir were joined by the Church Choir in singing gospel songs beautifully. The MSS Band, my favorite band, accompanied the choirs during their rendition of the school song, "The Song of the Brave" while the rest of the congregation - former principals, teachers, students and parents, Catholics and non-Catholics - joined in with heartfelt emotions. Brother Dominic, the last Singaporean Gabrielite Brother, said his thanksgiving message, ending it by saying "Thank You" in several languages.

Archbishop Goh also began his sermon with a message of thanksgiving and gratitude for celebrating the centennial is a such an achievement. One hundred years is fifty more than Singapore's celebration of it's independence. He continued on by enumerating three important factors in the schools' long history: Catholic faith, the caring mentors and strong school values. He mentioned Catholic faith was much more apparent during the early years when there were more Catholic activities like first Friday masses, Thursday reconciliations, angelus at noon time. These days, he said, Catholic schools seldom have these greater emphasis on Catholic teachings/activities because of secularism. His hope and appeal to the Catholic schools, especially Montfort Schools is to bring the Catholic faith and values closer to the students because that is what is important in molding the children of today. He gave thanks to the thousands of Montfortian mentors then and now. Passionate teachers who really care for the well-being of the students. They are the ones who have had a big impact on the lives of the students and molded them to be who they are now or who they will be in the future. He cited his personal experiences in developing his faith through the positive influence of his teacher. He emphasized the relevance of school values. That the reason why non-Catholic parents send their boys to Montfort Schools is because of the school values imparted to the children.He said the schools "should not disappoint" them. He said that greater emphasis should be on the values instilled in the young because no matter how successful and excellent they are academically if they don't have the values instilled in them, there is no giving back to the community because they will only think of themselves. I find myself nodding with every word that he said and saw parents in front of me doing the same. He is right and we agree with him. As a parent volunteer, I thought about my role in helping the school impart in the boys the values that it upholds. It's a big responsibility for the mission, for the school and school officials, for the teachers and for parent volunteers alike but we can do it. I was teary eyed at the end of his sermon. I could see how passionate and serious he was about every word he said. 

After the mass celebration, everyone headed to the nearby hall for lunch reception. We were serenaded, more like brought us up to our feet, by the MSS Band with their rendition of YMCA and several other upbeat music. I was hoping the MSS Chorale would have performed, too. Maybe next time. I also got to see former principals and glad to know they are warmly welcomed by the students even after they have left the schools. With this gesture you would know these principals were loved and appreciated by the students. They have had a positive impact on the boys.

Celebrating the centennial mass was a chance to hear the history of Montfort Schools from the experiences of Brothers and former Montfortians. Their personal reflections on how the school, the brothers/teachers have helped guide them to where they are now. It was an opportunity to watch how the schools started a hundred years ago, what changes it has gone through and what future it has in store. My take away from this celebration was knowing that we made the right decision in putting our boys in these schools. They have met teachers who truly care for them, their learning and well-being. They have enjoyed their years with friends. They found something worth remembering in their journey in Montfort which they will carry with them through the years. My only hope is, as what Archbishop Goh mentioned, that years after they have left the school and are in their respective successful lives, they will not forget the values instilled in them by the teachers in school and that they give back to the school and to the community as what St Louis de Montfort would do. To be men for others.

another take home...
this Centennial Candle

As the school motto states: Age quod agis. Do well in whatever you do.

Live by the CHRISTE values of compassion, humility, respect, integrity, service, teamwork and excellence.

Happy Centennial, Montfort Schools! More blessed years of guiding and positively impacting the lives of students.

proud parents of Montfortian Chorale/Choir members
Proud to be part of the centennial celebrations.

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