We teachers have a high regard for Br Columba. He was a well-respected and well-loved educator.
As a Principal, he was caring and encouraging; approachable and understanding.
He understood the demands and pressures faced by the teachers in having to maintain the excellent academic and sports powerhouse records that St Joseph’s School was renowned for.
Thus his support and trust; and his willingness to step forward to strengthen, energize and help in challenging times was deeply appreciated.
His devotion to academic excellence was truly remarkable. He spent late nights going to the library to supervise the students. Sometimes it can be quite scary to see him in his white robe patrolling the school at midnight!
Br Columba was passionate about sports, especially athletics. He would always go down to the sports field, sit together with the teachers and athletes in the camp and give them his full and undivided support.
When I was transferred to St Joseph’s in 1981, he warmly welcomed me, but wished that my husband could have been transferred too, because he was a qualified athletics coach. The reason was that the school athletics coach had been transferred away to the Teachers’ College.
Br Columba had good listening ears and was compassionate. Staff members were able to discuss their problems with ease. And when they had to call in sick or when they had to attend to an urgent or unavoidable crisis of sorts, his understanding and compassion made them give more back to the school.
Br Columba was also a good motivator with a good sense of humour. He was a cheerful person, though a strict disciplinarian. He touched and changed lives with his patience, acceptance, empathy and unparalleled genuine, caring nature.
His retirement in 1987 was a sad closing of the era of the De La Salle Brothers in St Joseph’s School; but at the same time, a testimony that the legacy of the De La Salle Brothers’ dedication to education, guidance and inspiration would see St Joseph’s School through the years.
Br Columba will be greatly missed and fondly remembered. We will always think of him as the man he was – Principal, teacher, mentor, counsellor, disciplinarian and friend.
“THE FINEST GIFT YOU CAN GIVE THE WORLD IS YOUR BEST SELF” – Maxwell Maltz
Thank you Br Columba. You did it!
May you rest in peace.
Florence Chye-Goh and teachers of St Joseph’s School, past and present
Delivered at the St Joseph’s School Auditorium on 13 February 2016