Remembering Gabrielite Brother James Tham

Brother James Tham Koon Seng, a beloved member of the Brothers of Saint Gabriel, passed away peacefully on Dec 6, 2020. He was 91 years old and had been in the religious life for 67 years.

Br James had dedicated his life to his mission, which included the running of St Joseph’s School in Johor Bahru before becoming the Principal of Montfort Primary School in Batu Pahat, Johor. He also taught in various Gabrielite schools and cared for the youths in Boys’ Town in Singapore.

Br James came to Boys’ Town in 2004 and spent his remaining years here where he went about his duties in a quiet way. His stay in Boys’ Town was special to him. In a reflection that is featured on one of the walls in Boys’ Town, written before his passing, he wrote “I embraced my stay in Boys’ Town with gratitude for I had touched so many of the boys’ lives to see them through life. Words cannot express my joy.”

He thanked God for giving him strength and courage to continue his work serving God and the boys. He was happy and always looked forward to doing more and to serve and love tirelessly. He reminded us to remain cheerful no matter how many crosses come our way.

We will always remember his quiet demeanour and he will be greatly missed and remembered by the Board of Directors, staff and youths of Boys’ Town. May perpetual light shine on Br James.

Quotes from former juniorates and students:

“He helped nurture my learning and love for prayer in the spirit of St Louis Marie de Montfort. I can say that many of us who have passed through him are a ‘chip off the old block.’”

– Michael Nerva

“He moulded us gently and allowed all of us to grow in our own way.”

– Adrian Tan

“Br James Tham was our religious teacher, mentor, guardian, friend. To many of us, he was a great influencer who, by his life lived in discipline, with simplicity, obedience, poverty and holiness, left an indelible impression that shaped many lives.”

– Anselm Lopez

Contributed by Boys’ Town Singapore