(Front row, from left) Archbishop Nicholas Chia with Gabrielite Brother Emmanuel and Father Patrick Goh (extreme right) together with old boys and Montfort Secondary Principal Andrew Tan (back row, extreme left). Photo by Dareen Boon
ALSO TURNING 50 was Montfort Secondary School. The anniversary was commemorated with a dinner for 500 alumni and their families at the school premises in Hougang on Nov 21.
Its roots, however, actually go further back. In 1916, it was founded as Holy Innocents’ English School, at Upper Serangoon Road, by Father Henri Duvelle, then-parish priest of Church of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
After the Gabrielite Brothers took over in 1936, the school was renamed in 1959 in memory of their founder, St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort.
Father Patrick Goh, who graduated in 1960, said the school, together with the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary next door, provided him with a strong religious formation with students gathering for the Sunday children’s Masses and regular confession on the first Fridays.
Students and teachers had a close relationship, he said. Father Goh remembers how he and his classmates used to make fun of a Science teacher – Brother Thomas – for the way he spoke English with his native Spanish accent. But jokes aside, he was “a dedicated teacher”.
“I’m very happy that Montfort has continued to contribute to the education of young people to become useful people in society, and not forgetting many of them have become priests,” Father Goh said.
Other old boys contribute to Montfort by returning to the school.
Seah Kok Woei, 30, has been teaching physics and computer applications at Montfort for four-and-a-half years now, after requesting the Ministry of Education for a posting to his alma mater. He said that values such as self-discipline, humility, teamwork and resilience were not taught through textbooks, but from involvement in co-curricular activities and school events.
“These values have put me in good stead in my years after graduating from Montfort to junior college and all the way to the present moment,” said Mr Seah, who hopes to pass on these values to his students.
He also sees no difference between the school back then and now, except for the school building and some staff. “The school has always maintained the same vision and mission that the Founder set out to achieve – helping the poor – and therefore, the doors of Montfort are always open to students who seek to be a better individual through a Montfortian Education,” said Mr Seah.