Lasallian Reflection for the Week
Brother Gregory Lim, FSC
1924 - 2021
“Oh, what joy a Brother will have when he sees a great number of his students in possession of eternal happiness, for which they are indebted to him by the grace of God. What a sharing of joy there will be between the teacher and his disciples!”
(St. John Baptist de La Salle, 16th Meditation for the Time of Retreat)
This week the De La Salle Brothers and the Lasallian family of Singapore celebrated the life of Brother Gregory Lim, who passed away on Monday afternoon, 18 January, at the age of 96. Brother Gregory had been a De La Salle Brother for 77 years. His funeral was yesterday in the Chapel of St. Patrick’s School. He is lovingly remembered not only by the Brothers, but also by his many former students and friends.
Paul Lim Kiah Chye was born in Singapore in 1924. He lived with his parents and four brothers and four sisters along Highland Road in the Serangoon District. He met the De La Salle Brothers while a student at St. Anthony’s School, and at the young age of 15 left home to enter the Brothers’ training college in Penang. Three years later he received the habit (robe) of the Brothers and the religious name of Brother Gregory Thomas. Br. Gregory felt his decision to join the Brothers may have saved his life, as he spent the war years away from Singapore. Immediately after the war he received his first teaching assignment at St. Xavier’s Branch School in Penang. Subsequent postings took him to Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and Papua New Guinea. In Singapore he taught at St. Michael’s School (1955-60) and at St. Joseph’s Institution (1970-71) and St. Patrick’s School (1981). Officially retired in 1984, he continued to work with the Legion of Mary and other groups at SJI. He then volunteered for two years to teach English to young Brothers in training in Papua New Guinea. Since 1996 he has lived in the Brothers’ community at St. Patrick’s School here in Singapore.
Interviewed last year at the time of his 95th birthday, Brother Gregory remarked, “I feel indebted to the Lord for his goodness and tender love all these years of my life. The secret is trying to live in peace and harmony with my fellow men and myself.” When asked what a 95-year-old Brother does with his time, he responded, “Every day I spend some time in prayer. I love to say many rosaries every day. I read spiritual books. I have a liking for Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean movies on TV. The stories are intriguing. I also like to play mahjong on the computer because it keeps my brain working.” At the Mass in 2019, celebrating the 300th anniversary of the death of St. John Baptist de La Salle, Br. Gregory enjoyed being recognised as the oldest Brother in Singapore and the Lasallian East Asia District.
What a life he lived over these 96 years. It’s hard to imagine the changes Br. Gregory witnessed in Singapore and Asia, in the De La Salle Brothers and the Church, in education and religious life, and in the world. Br. Gregory will be remembered not only for his faith and perseverance, but also for his enthusiasm and optimism for life which never left him, despite his age. In the Meditation cited above, St. John Baptist de La Salle describes a magnificent, heavenly class reunion to be enjoyed by a De La Salle Brother and all of his former pupils. What a wonderful celebration it will be for Br. Gregory and the many hundreds of people he taught and influenced through the years! May he rest in peace.
Br Lawrence Humphrey, FSC