The Montfort Brothers of St Gabriel and some of the school alumni at the Mass on Jan 16. The Montfort Brothers of St Gabriel and some of the school alumni at the Mass on Jan 16.

“Today, we are really proud, honoured and grateful that over this 100 years, the Montfort school has produced many leaders both for the Church and for society,” said Archbishp William Goh.

He was speaking during his homily at the Montfort Centennial Mass held at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Jan 16.

About 1,000 people attended the Mass. Among them were Former Cabinet Minister Lim Boon Heng, current Montfort school students and alumni, priests who were also former students, the Brothers of St Gabriel and Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang.

The theme for the centennial celebration was Celebrating the Past, Charting the Future.

In his homily, archbishop Goh, who is one of three bishops from Montfort besides Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Chia and Bishop Sebastian, reminded those gathered that “we must never forget that what we are today, is not just through hard work alone.
Archbishop William Goh speaking during his homily. He invited those gathered to reflect on the history of the Montfort schools to charter the future.Archbishop William Goh speaking during his homily. He invited those gathered to reflect on the history of the Montfort schools to charter the future.

“What we are today is the result of many people, hundreds of them... whether teachers, Brothers or fellow students. They have moulded us in some way.”

He also touched on the significance of history and learning from past mistakes made by the Montfort forefathers.

“The reason why we remember history, the events of the past, is so that we can learn.”

Looking towards the future, Archbishop Goh suggested three things that the current crop of Montfort staff and leaders can focus on do retain the “Catholic identity” of the school.

Firstly, that the Montfort school reclaim its Catholic ethos and embience. Speaking from memory, Archbishop Goh shared how in the past, there were “retreats, monthly Masses, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, catechism classes, devotion prayers during May and October” available for students.

Secondly, Archbishop Goh highlighted the influence of “good mentors”.

He said the importance of teachers in their ability to inspire was not something to overlook. “I owe my faith to two great teachers,” shared Archbishop Goh.

Lastly, he brought up the importance of “the values of the school and students”.

“The school cannot just focus on academic achievements, the school must also be concerned about spiritual and moral formation. As well as creating and forming holistic students.”

Before the Mass ended, Gabrielite Br Dominic Yeo-Koh, Supervisor of the Gabrielite Schools, extended his thanks to all those who contributed to the planning of the celebration and the upcoming events during the year.

After Mass, those gathered adjourned next door for lunch at the CHIJ Our Lady of the Nativity school canteen.

In his address before lunch, Mr Lim Boon Heng gave a summary of the upcoming events of the Montfort centennial year.

The events include a Founder’s Day celebration and a Montfort Challenge which will involve all seven Gabrielite schools in Singapore.

To commemorate the historic milestone of the Montfort schools, a series of events have been planned:

1.    Fund-raising Dinner (April 9)
2.    Founder’s Day Celebration Cum Homecoming Carnival (April 23)
3.    Montfort Challenge: A Community Service initiative (June 30 – July 1)
4.    Montfort Alumni Golf Tournament (August)
5.    Gala Dinner Cum Launch of Coffee-table Book (Nov 19)

By Jared Ng
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MILESTONES OF THE MONFORT SCHOOLS

  • In 1916, Fr H Duvelle started the first class of 20 pupils in Upper Serangoon Road. The school was first named Holy Innocents’ English School.

  • Towards the end of 1959, it was renamed Montfort School in honour of St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, founder of the Brothers of St Gabriel.

  • In 1961, Montfort School provided pre-U Arts and Science courses to both boys from Montfort School and St Gabriel’s School as well as girls, especially from Hai Sing Girls’ School and St Joseph’s Convent.

  • In 1974, Montfort School, which had been functioning as a full school, began running separately as Montfort Junior School and Montfort Secondary School.

  • In 1984, sparked by a desire to provide facilities which matched those in the government schools, the Old Montfortian Association, (since renamed Montfort Alumni), raised funds to rebuild the Montfort Schools.

  • January 1992 saw the Montfort Schools welcome students to its newly upgraded premises.

  • Montfort Junior School and Montfort Secondary School underwent PRIME (Programme for Rebuilding and Improving Existing Schools) in 2000 and 2009 respectively to ensure that facilities remained current and relevant.

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