Sunday, April 08, 2012

Irish Eyes

I wrote a few years back about the Katong Convent School building, and a little about my school days. This post prompted the most comments from readers who took the time to reminesce about their school days, too.  Indeed, there was something special about our school days.  Maybe it was the fun and laughter we shared with our friends, in the process of growing up together.  Maybe it was the warmth and wit of our teachers.  And for some, maybe it was the lilt of the Irish brogue coming from the Irish nuns, in particular Sister Josephine Healy.

I should say that I did not go to Katong Convent Primary and so did not interact with Sister Jo as many others did.  But, her presence was still so prevalent even in the secondary school.  We sang hymns once a week led by Sister.  We would assemble in the hall, and Sister would be on stage leading us in song.  "From the Rising of the Sun", "Fill my Cup", "Give me Oil in my Lamp", and many more.   Her energy, and her infectious joie de vie (if I've spelt that correctly) were inspiring.  When I was in Sec 4, my principal Mrs Marie Bong decided to stage "The Merchant of Venice" and got Sister Jo and Sister Dolores (her sister) to help out.  They had a fine time indeed, correcting our phrasing, diction and emphasis as we stumbled through our lines.

Sadly, both Sisters Josephine and Dolores have passed away, Sister Dolores a year or two ago and Sister Josephine, in December last year. The IJ sisters held a memorial service for her in Holy Family church on 17 March, St Patrick's Day.  Father Michael Arro, who was at  Holy Family and Perpetual Succour for many years, was the celebrant.  Father shared his many memories of Sister Jo, remembering her compassion and kindness, but also how her Irish eyes could become fire-ry and how his French temper and her Irish temper went head to head.  Other speakers - her students - gave eulogies.  One speaker (my former teacher) told of how Sister inspired her to be a teacher too.  Others read poems.  The characteristic crisp, clear diction of the KC girl characterised each speaker.  That, too, is indeed Sister's legacy.  


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