Due recognition for Brother Vincent

HARDLY an adult at the age of 20, Irish lad Vincent J. Corkery set sail on the Peninsular & Orient S.S. Carthage for Malaya, half a world away, in 1948.

Leaving his family in Millstreet Town (Liscahane), a little known place in Cork County, Ireland, he was about to embark on his first teaching post as a La Salle Brother.

Since then, the former Brother Director of St Michael’s Institution Ipoh has continued to lead an active role in the development of local education.

In recognition of his contribution, Brother Vincent was conferred the Dato’ Paduka Mahkota Perak (DPMP) award, which carries the title Datuk, by the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah in April this year.
Sterling service: Brother Vincent with the Datuk Paduka Mahkota Perak award from the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah.

He recalled that he had to travel for three weeks on a ship when he first came to the country.

“We would port at different places for two to three days. Our first stop was at Port Said, and then on to the Suez Canal, Aden, Bombay, Colombo and Penang.

When he disembarked at Penang, he was told by the Brothers at St Xavier’s Institution to get back onto the ship and continue his journey to Singapore where he spent the next decade teaching at the St Patrick’s School and St Joseph’s Institution.

In 1958, Brother Vincent was posted to the St Michael’s Institution in Ipoh, which he would call home for the next 53 years.

In addition to teaching English, Literature and History to Form Six students, Brother Vincent was also the Brother Sub-Director of St Michael’s.

He was appointed Brother Director in 1971, taking over from Brother Ultan Paul.

As Brother Director, Brother Vincent decided to do away with streaming according to academic ability and introduced mixed ability classes, which is practised at St Michael’s till this very day.

“I was happy to return to teaching, which I prefer to managing the school but then, I had to take over again at the end of 1986 until my retirement in 1988,” said Brother Vincent. (In 1976, Brother Paul returned to St Michael’s as Brother Director.)

Post retirement, Brother Vincent found himself a student again, pro-ving that life does not stop at 60.
Big honour: Brother Vincent being conferred the DPMP award, which carries the title Datuk, by Sultan Azlan Shah on April 19.

He took up a refresher course in French language and culture at the University of Angers, France, and then to Rome to study the traditional pedagogy of the Brotherhood founded in the 17th century.

In 1994, he was roped in as secretary for the Asia Pacific network of the La Sallian Brothers.

“Most of my life I had been living within the St Michael’s compound when suddenly I found myself all over Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, India, the Philippines, Japan and Australia.

“I later resigned as secretary in 2004 as the travelling was getting too much for me,” he said.

Turning 82 in November, one would expect this dear old man to rest on his laurels.

But no, he continues to immerse himself in educating the young and less fortunate as director of the La Salle Centre for Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong, which is located within the school itself.

Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd chief executive officer Tan Sri Lee Oi Hian noted that Brother Vincent had always worked as a team with Brother Paul.

“He complemented Brother Paul well.

“In fact, the many things that St Michael’s is today is a result of that but then Brother Vincent would not take glory for himself,” said Lee, 59, who left St Michael’s after completing his Form Six in 1969.

To Old Michaelians’ Association (OMA) president Adrian Tsen, Brother Vincent is an intellectual educator who was well ahead of his time.

“Brother Vincent was able to see things coming, even 40 years ago.

“More than that, he is a father figure, whom old students like myself and the present generation of students look up to.

“The younger generation are well aware of who he is,” said Tsen, 60.

OMA will be holding its 72nd annual dinner at the Red Crescent Hall on Jalan Stadium, Ipoh, at 7.30pm on Saturday.

“It will be an opportunity to celebrate and congratulate Brother Vincent for being conferred the royal state award,” said Tsen.


This article appeared in The Star Online (A Malaysian Newspaper)

We wrote about Brother Vincent’s award back in April in these articles:

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