Their 135th Anniversary cum Opening Ceremony marked the official opening of the two institutions, in Bedok North, after they underwent PRIME, the Education Ministry’s Programme for Rebuilding and Improving Existing Schools.
The celebration also marked the 120th year of the presence of the Canossian Sisters in Singapore.
During a Mass at the schools’ St Anthony’s Chapel, Archbishop William Goh emphasised that Catholic education must equip students with the capacity to make solid moral choices and decisions in faith, amidst growing secularism and relativism.
The schools’ motto, VIA, VERITAS, VITA – Jesus as the Way, Truth and Life – should give purpose, direction and hope to students, inspiring them to become people of integrity and compassion, ready to serve all in society, especially the poor and underprivileged, he said.
Guest-of-honour, Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Law and Education, visited the schools’ Heritage Gallery, libraries, the primary school’s St Francis Garden and the secondary school’s Black Box theatre.
In her speech later at the secondary school hall, she spoke of the support the schools could give to the Education Ministry in providing holistic and integrated education. She also highlighted that the strong presence of old girls in the teaching staff was testimony to the unique appeal of a Canossian education.
Sr Theresa Seow, Provincial Leader of the Canossian Sisters, noted in her speech that “today, we can offer new and expanded premises for sports, performing arts, ICT [Information and Communication Technology] and all other learning experiences for our students”.
Mrs Fiona Ong Oliveiro, whose three daughters attended both schools, shared how her belief in the Canossian education never once made her regret allowing her youngest daughter, who had scored well in her PSLE, to remain in the St Anthony’s Canossian family.
This was even though she was encouraged to consider other more “prestigious” options, said Mrs Oliveiro, who is chairperson of the Parents’ Support Group at the secondary school.
Guests were then treated to a dinner theatre. Some 100 students from both schools presented a musical, The Canossian Spirit, featuring significant people, past and present, who through their shared philosophy and beliefs, embodied the Canossian values.
The St Anthony’s Canossian Primary and Secondary schools had their origins in 1879 when the Portuguese Missions started a school. It was called St Anna’s School and was first located in a shop house at Middle Road.
The name was changed to St Anthony’s Boys’ and Girls’ School in 1886 as St Anthony was a favourite saint of the Portuguese. This co-educational school later separated to become St Anthony’s Boys’ and St Anthony’s Girls’ School. Four Canossian Sisters, who arrived in 1894, took over the running of the girls’ school.
By Monica Menon