CHIJ (Toa Payoh) marks 145th year with concert depicting its history


Students building a mock-up of the former CHIJ chapel located in Victoria Street in A Journey Through Time.

By Benedict Tang

VIBRANT colours, multi-ethnic dances and soaring music. These were just some of the elements which marked A Journey Through Time, the grand musical put on by students and staff of CHIJ (Toa Payoh) to mark its 145th anniversary on May 21 and 22.

The 21/2-hour concert, which involved over 400 people, was held in the Nanyang Polytechnic auditorium. It featured the history of the school, which was formerly located in Victoria Street. It highlighted its founding in 1854 with the arrival on Feb 6 of CHIJ nuns, Mother Mathilde and Srs Gaetan, Appolinaire and Gregoire from France. The musical also featured the pioneers of Singapore as girls dressed like samsui women, Indian dhobis, Sikh policemen and Malay fishermen burst onstage.

Another act saw 16 girls, dressed in white gowns, preparing to enter the religious novitiate. World War II was portrayed in a sequence in which girls in bloodied bandages ran screaming from Japanese soldiers. These spared the lives of the convent girls after some pleading from the nuns.

In another segment, girls clothed in bright blue and red pieced together a cardboard mock-up of the facade of the chapel at Victoria Street, symbolising the move to Toa Payoh.

Principal Sr Anne Wong told CN that since this year's anniversary celebration falls on the "eve of the third millennium", it was thus this grand. "This is something that Singapore should be proud of," she said. "Apart from our economic success, CHIJ has remained first in fidelity to its mission, and mission is what makes us crusaders, not just employees."

The Catholic News (June 13, 1999)