The Signum Fidei
The Signum Fidei or Sign of Faith is the symbol shared by the Christian Brothers’ Schools in Singapore. At the heart of the symbol is a star, a reminder of the Star of Bethlehem which guided the three wise men to the manger where Christ was born. Its significance for Lasallians is to remind them to centre their lives on God, manifesting their faith through service to others. Hence the 3 values associated with our Lasallian Brothers are Faith, Service and Community. As a Christian Brothers’ School, we are tasked to manifest these values in what we do for the school and the community at large.
Religious Brothers as Principals
The school’s religious ethos was propagated by its religious principals in the formative years, with Brother Thomas Dunne being the first Brother-Principal in 1954, followed by Brother Basil Voon in 1956. Successive lay Principals never lost sight of the spiritual character of this Christian Brother School amidst the pursuit for excellence—that of living out the Gospel so that each child who enters its gates would gradually become the person that God wants him to be.
While many would cherish memories of catching spiders or fishing for tadpoles in stagnant drains in the school premises, pioneer Michaelian, Goh Kim Chwee, counts the spirituality of the school as most memorable. He regarded the late Brother Basil as a Principal and a spiritual Father of the school. The Christian values taught through the Parables in the Bible taught during Catechism classes were embedded in him, helping him throughout his working life. He also recalled how non-Catholic children, together with their Catholic peers would say the daily prayers faithfully with their teachers before the first lesson began in the morning, before and after recess, at noon, with the recitation of the Angelus, and the final prayer just before the last lesson of the day.
Blessing of the School in the 1990s
Amidst its various school development programmes and restructuring, the school never lost sight of its focus on holistic education, including the spirituality of its staff and students. On 28 May 1992, the then Archbishop Gregory Yong blessed the school in a simple yet moving ceremony, concelebrated by past students who have become priests. In the presence of parents, Christian Brothers and Principals of the CBS schools, the then-Principal, Mr Dominic Yip, together with the staff, pledged their steadfast loyalty to the school and in realising the ideals of St John Baptist De La Salle. After the next major redevelopment of the St Michael’s School building was completed in 2003, Archbishop Nicholas Chia, together with six other Michaelian-priests concelebrated the Blessing Mass. As part of this redevelopment, the St. Michael’s School Chapel was constructed where Masses and Catechism classes were held.
Spiritual Life of the School in the 2000s
In 2007, in line with its school vision of being “A choice Catholic school where boys are nurtured to trust in God, believe in themselves, thrive in a global environment and be of service to others”, the school implemented a variety of initiatives to realise it, bolstered by the efforts of Brother Edward Seah, Catholic teachers, Parent Volunteers who were involved in the Parents’ Prayer Group. The Catholic Students’ Society met weekly where they had Bible sharing and Praise-and-Worship sessions. The boys also led prayers in the Holy Hour as well as led Morning prayers and took charge of Masses held in school. Every term, the boys would also visit the St Joseph’s Home for the Elderly to chat with the residents, assist them during meals and facilitated in art-and-craft sessions.
In 2008, a Prayer Room was built to support the prayer life of the Catholic community in the school. The Room was blessed by Father Gerard Louis from the Novena Church.
The Catholic teachers continued to enliven the Catholicity of the school by imparting Catholic values through poems, stories, video clips from YouTube and music videos. The Catholic teachers and parent volunteers also taught the boys correct prayer etiquette through special prayer sessions held during Lent and the Month of the Rosary in May and October. In 2009, the school restored the St. Michael’s statue to its former glory and also acquired a beautiful statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In 2012, despite the lack of a proper Prayer Room and Chapel in the Geylang Bahru campus, the parent Catechists enhanced the Catholic identity of the school through their myriad initiatives. They not only took the trouble to transform two rooms into places of solace and contemplation for the boys to pray in, these Parent Volunteers also took the trouble to pray with the Catholic boys at recess times and throughout the duration of the PSLE. They took the trouble to put on an Easter play for the Primary 1 to 3 pupils and play an active role during school Masses, besides conducting Catechism lessons. Their dedication to helping the Catholic boys appreciate the importance of prayer is truly inspiring and appreciated by many.
In 2014, the school launched Project Good, a Lenten project which aimed to raise funds for the Lasallian Missions to help the less fortunate students in other countries. The boys were made aware of the plight of thousands of boys and girls who are deprived of proper education and which the LaSalle schools are helping to resolve. The project ran from 31 March to 4 April and the boys were exhorted to give up part of their recess money and donate at least one dollar to the project. This project was also in line with the Lenten observance of charity and almsgiving and also the Lasallian values of service and community. The project was officially launched on 31 March, where principal, Mr Timothy Goh started by putting in one dollar into the donation box on stage, followed by various representatives from the school community such as the Religious and Moral Education Coordinator and Head Prefect. Each day during recess, Parent Volunteers helped to “man” the donation box and rang a bell to draw attention to the Project Good donation box, encouraing the boys to donate.
On Founder’s Day on 7 April, Project Good concluded with a slide show of the Bamboo School in Thailand. The boys were shown how the students there lived and studied in the school despite their poor living conditions. Finally, a cheque was presented by Mr Timothy Goh on behalf of the whole school to Brother Dominic Chong who represented the Lasalle Brothers and who would give the donations to the Lasallian Missions.