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150-year legacy lives on Print E-mail
ImageThe La Salle brothers left their legacy in more than 90 countries. In Malaysia, it began in 1852 with the St. Xavier’s Institution in Penang, the first of many like it. These included the St Paul’s Institution in Seremban, the St John’s Institution in Kuala Lumpur, St Francis’ Institution in Malacca, St Michael’s Institution in Ipoh and St Patrick’s School in Kulim. In Sungai Petani, there was the St Teresa’s School, in Teluk Intan, St Anthony’s Secondary School, in Sarawak, St Joseph’s Secondary School in Kuching and in Sabah the La Salle Kota Kinabalu.
                               
Former students remember that it has been 150 years since St John Baptist de la Salle and his brothers set foot in then Malaya, armed with a noble mission – to educate Asian children. That dream has been realised, and with it their name etched alongside quality education. To honour the trio, their sacrifices and a legacy never to be forgotten, the Malaysian Federation of Lasallian Associations (MFOLSA) will hold a dinner at the Legend Kuala Lumpur on Dec 13. 
                                                                       
Asia’s first La Salle school was the St Joseph’s Institution in Singapore, still part of Malaya then. That same month, the brothers set up the Penang school. From the two, La Salle schools began to sprout throughout the Asian region and within seven years gained footholds in India, Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam and Sri Lanka. With the number of schools, the La Sallian Brotherhood evolved too, the first arriving in Hong Kong in 1875. 
                                     
The Brothers began a tradition – faith, service and community – which to this day is followed at all La Salle schools. The La Sallian education stresses on academic excellence, but even more on character building. “Over the years, efforts were made by the alumni to promote and preserve the La Salle tradition,’’ said Brother Visitor Peter Foo. “And there are several notable developments towards this end,” he said. On Oct 4, 1980, the various alumni associations were brought under an umbrella body, the MFOLSA, by five founding associations, namely Old Georgians’ Taiping, Old Paulians’ Seremban, Old Xaverians’ Penang, Old Boys Kuching and Sacred Heart Old Students Sibu. “Today it has grown in size and now comprises 14 member associations, the main objective of which is to link and promote fellowship among all La Sallians in the country,” said Brother Foo. He said the 150-year anniversary was to remember a legacy that had changed the lives of many Malaysians who had risen to become the country’s prominent figures in politics, business and sports. 
                                 
MFOLSA president Joe Fernando said, in conjunction with the anniversary celebrations, there would be an Open day on Dec 8, at the La Salle Institute in Bukit Nenas, a six-a-side inter La Salle hockey tournament at the Pantai Grounds on Dec 10-11, and a golf tournament for former students. He said part of the proceeds from the dinner and the tournaments would go towards the La Salle Institute, an education foundation established jointly by the Brothers and the La Sallian Alumni, which promoted and preserved the La Salle Heritage. 
                                 
MFOLSA has also come out with anniversary neckties and a book titled: "A Portrait of the De La Salle Brothers" to commemorate the anniversary, “A Sign of Faith”, on the history of the La Salle Brothers in Malaysia is also available.
                                              
                                          
By CHARLES FERNANDEZ
Star: 28 November, 2002
 
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