Christian missionaries have left an indelible mark on social, cultural life

Vatican Ambassador to Malaysia, Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino, planted a tree in Grace Garden at the Infant Jesus Convent, which the school has cultivated for many years, to instruct its students to care for the environment.

Oct 06, 2017

By Vincent D’Silva
Vatican Ambassador to Malaysia, Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino, planted a tree in Grace Garden at the Infant Jesus Convent, which the school has cultivated for many years, to instruct its students to care for the environment.

He was then introduced to the teachers and staff before being taken on a tour of the school by senior teacher Lee Siew Kee.

In his address to the teachers, parents and students, Archbishop Marino said it was a great honour for him to be here to mark the 92nd anniversary.

He said it signifies, in the first place, a spirit of dedication which inspired the first three religious sisters in 1925 to establish a school primarily for girls.

He said such a prophetic initiative at that time to give priority to women who, in many parts of the world, were not even recognised to have the right to participate in the democratic process of elections.

“It signifies, too, the benevolent and generous leadership of Sultanah Rogayah who, after recognizing the high quality of education taking place here, decided to donate a piece of land so that the school could expand,” he said.

He mentioned that the Church and State can work together, especially in the area of education, so all the citizens will benefit. This is certainly the reality of this school which represents a beacon of light in this part of Malaysia.

The Vatican ambassador noted that the Catholic Church is involved in education with much joy and enthusiasm as she has only the overall good of the students in mind.

He said the Church, through its schools, makes this contribution by bringing expertise to her institutions, employing the finest methods in imparting knowledge to the students who have been entrusted to her.

Expounding further, he said the Church carries out the work of education with a spirit of genuine and effective openness, embracing people of all religions and backgrounds in a truly exemplary fashion.

He said, “One cannot but express admiration for this attitude especially in today’s world which, in so many places, is marked by an unfortunate divide among peoples of faith.”

He also stated that Christian missionaries have left an indelible mark on the social and cultural life of this part of the world, primarily in the area of education, introducing solid values which all people of goodwill embrace and live by.

The Archbishop also pointed out that the Church seeks to contribute in operating schools that attend not only to the cognitive, but also to the spiritual and moral development of children which is essential for a stable and prosperous society.

He stressed that the teachers and those in administration have a high responsibility in assuring that these values are truly taught by word and by example.

He said the basis for a good education is good teachers who are committed to their work of educating children, imparting knowledge and human values which serve the common good.

However, he said, attaining this goal is not only an academic preparation, which of course is essential, but also giving true testimony to what is being taught and the values that are being given, adding that, “learning by example is as powerful as learning by the word.”

In fact, the Archbishop noted, research has shown that what education needs today are teachers that provide witness to what is good and right and just and this is what inspires children to acquire knowledge with enthusiasm and joy.

He went on to say that this school has been blessed with teachers who carry out their obligations with a sense of mission, that is, with a sense that teaching is more than a job, it is a way of life and a vocation, requiring discipline and preparation.

Turning to the students, Archbishop Marino said, “You have been given a unique opportunity by your parents and guardians to be a part of this school, with its long and glorious history.”

He encouraged them to approach each day as an opportunity to learn something new, to discover something different and to know another friend.

He said school life requires a real sense of discipline and openness in an environment which enables the development of a community of learning, marked by respect for one another.

In all of this, Archbishop Marino said that a school with all its vast diversity gives an example to what society must be, a place where everyone is treated equally and fairly, a place where everyone is given space to grow and develop and a place where harmony is lived and celebrated.

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