Message by Ms Vivienne Lim, Chairperson, IJ Board of Management for CHIJ School’s Year Book 2019
2019 marks a momentous milestone for the IJ family in Singapore. It has been 165 years since the arrival of the first IJ Sisters, led by Mother St Mathilde, to start the first CHIJ school here in Singapore. The Sisters started a school within 10 days of arriving in Singapore with just a few pieces of donated furniture. Soon after, they opened an orphanage to care for children who were being abandoned at their gates. Students were roped in to help care for the abandoned children. Since its very humble beginnings and throughout its history, the mission of the CHIJ Schools has been to provide a good education to girls in order to uplift their stations in life, with emphasis on care and service to others, especially the disadvantaged.
The IJ Community has grown to encompass the IJ Homes and Children Centre together with 11 CHIJ schools all over Singapore, comprising at least 15,000 girls at any point of time. Over the course of these 165 years, our schools have educated more than 180,000 girls in Singapore. Many of our girls have gone on to make an impact in the lives of many others in society, in the workplace, and at home with their families. A great number of IJ educated girls have broken glass ceilings, taken the path less travelled, advocated for the voiceless, and dedicated their lives in the service of others (especially the marginalized). It was thus with deep and heartfelt gratitude that the entire IJ family totalling almost 18,000 in number comprising teachers, staff, girls (past and present) from all our 11 schools and from the wider IJ community, gathered at the National Stadium to give thanks and to celebrate the tenacity and immense faith of the pioneer IJ sisters, who laid the foundation for the CHIJ schools in Singapore.
The theme for the IJ 165th celebrations is “Ever Seeking, Ever Serving”. It invites our girls to continually seek to become better versions of themselves and to always do so in the service of others. We are heartened that our IJ schools remain steadfast in their commitment to the IJ Mission of building Christ-centred school communities working together for the promotion of truth, justice, freedom and love, with special reference to the needs of persons who are disadvantaged in any way. In addition, in conjunction with the IJ 165th celebrations, all the girls in our 11 CHIJ schools have been specifically tasked and commissioned to be (i) Ambassadors for Peace; and (ii) Ambassadors for our Environment.
To be an ambassador for PEACE: We live today, in a world where technological and economic progress has given us good material lives. But we also live in a world where increasing rifts and divisions threaten communities and nations. Today, more than ever, there is a need to speak words of peace, to seek to understand one another even if our opinions or beliefs differ, to choose love instead of hatred, to build bridges where people are divided. In a divided world, we want our IJ girls to be the agents for peace.
To be Ambassadors for our Environment: Mankind has progressed materially, in many significant ways over the last century. But such progress has come at a cost to our environment. Scientists predict that temperatures could rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. By 2100, some countries could be submerged, more people will die from heat, and a third of life forms on earth could face extinction. There is thus a great urgency for all of us to do what we can to protect our earth, to care for our common home. Each of our IJ girls has been tasked to do what they can in their own little ways to protect our environment, and to influence their parents, siblings and friends to do the same.
As we strive to build a more inclusive and loving society and do what we can to care for our common home, may we continually be encouraged by the examples of Blessed Nicolas Barré and the IJ sisters, who embodied our motto, of being ‘Simple in Virtue, Steadfast in Duty’.
May God continue to bless CHIJ (Katong) Primary, her leaders, teachers and students, always.
Yours in Christ
Ms Vivienne Lim
CHIJ Board of Management