As part of Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus’ (CHIJ) 160th anniversary celebrations, a CHIJ Forum organised by CHIJ Our Lady Queen of Peace was held on Aug 30 at Catholic Junior College.
The Women in the Footsteps of Mother Mathilde forum paid tribute to the French Infant Jesus (IJ) sister, who set up the first CHIJ School for girls and a home for children in Victoria Street in 1854.
Dr Angela Wong, Dr Chow Wan Cheng and Ms Cassandra Chiu were members of a panel discussion during the forum, which was attended by about 750 representatives from 11 CHIJ schools, as well as IJ Sisters.
They shared their own personal stories in relation to their IJ education.
Ms Cassandra Chiu a visually handicapped counsellor, told the audience that despite having eyesight problems while still a young student in the then CHIJ Bukit Timah (now CHIJ Our Lady Queen of Peace), she credits “some of the values that IJ has taught me”, one of which would be love.
“It’s not just about loving others, but loving ourselves as well,” Ms Chiu said.
Dr Chow Wan Cheng, formerly from CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School, shared why she chose to stay in public service.
Her reason was “because I see role models in our [IJ] Sisters and in our teachers. They chose to stick with us and toiled their lives in service.”
Dr Angela Wong shared that she had worked with a few people to develop a teacher training curriculum, which she later taught to trainee teachers in the Catholic Church’s boarding house in Myanmar. She also trained other teachers in the CHIJ schools in Singapore to teach these trainee teachers.
Dr Noeleen Heyzer was the keynote speaker. The Special Adviser of the United Nations Secretary General for Timor-Leste shared “3Ps” that guide her in her daily life: principles and values, purpose and practice, and people.
“Principles and values” would relate to the CHIJ motto – simple in virtue, steadfast in duty. For “purpose and practice”, Dr Heyzer said that it was “living a meaningful life, discovering the purpose of each of our lives and we fulfil it through practice”.
For “people”, Dr Heyzer said, “IJ Convents have invested in nurturing people, unlocking the potential of people, to empower our daughters to become future ethical leaders.”
Tribute to Mother Mathilde
Throughout the forum, there were performances by the students of the 11 CHIJ schools that depicted the life of Mother Mathilde and her contributions to the CHIJ community in Singapore.
Performances included skits, poem recitals and original songs.
Tribute to IJ Sisters and finale
Towards the end of the forum, school leaders from the 11 CHIJ schools went onstage to present flower bouquets to the IJ Sisters present: Supervisor of Schools Sr Deirdre O’Loan, Sr Maria Lau, Sr Joan Tay, Sr Celine Low, Sr Teresa Lee and Sr Elizabeth Moey.
The morning event ended with the singing of a well-known song among the CHIJ schools, Hold On To Our Dream.
Other events to mark the CHIJ anniversary include a bazaar and a gala dinner in November, planned by the CHIJ Alumni.
By Clara Lai