People of all walks of life from around the world filled St Michael’s Church, Ipoh during the funeral mass for the late Dato’ Reverend Brother Vincent Corkery on Thursday, March 24.
The morning dawned bright and clear as the remarkable 87-year-old, who represented all that was good about Christian missionaries who worked in Asia, was laid to rest at the grounds of the church.
Ipoh Echo talked to those whose lives have been touched by the man who passed away after a short illness at a private hospital in Ipoh on Tuesday, March 22.
His niece, Noreen Stanley shared her fondest memory of him, “In the last number of years, my sister has a place in West Cork in Ireland and he used to come on vacation in May. All the family members would sit around and chat. It’s was a wonderful time.”
“I was a Michaelian in the 1960s. This kind and gentle man always gave deep words of wisdom. He could discuss any subject matter, not just poetry. He was the pillar of St Michael’s Institution (SMI) together with Brother Paul, always building infrastructure and looking after the poorer performance students,” Tan Sri Lee Oi Hian, Chairman of SMI Board of Governors cum CEO of Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad remarked.
Joseph Michael Lee, Chairman of SMI Parent-Teacher Association, was Vincent’s student in 1972. He was in Form 1 then. “He’d take students out to the greenery outside the classroom for poetry reading. He was always challenging us to be culturally sensitive. I remember how he encouraged us to watch the internationally famous Vienna Boys’ Choir who came to Ipoh to perform then. He wasn’t just interested in us getting A’s, he wanted us to be well-rounded gentlemen with manners,” he recalled.
Chan Kok Keong, Deputy Chairman of the Perak Academy, was taught by the icon for Standard 3 back in 1960s. “It’s a pity that the late Brother’s experience and knowledge was not really made use of by the authorities,” he lamented.
“I got to know him when I studied Form 6 in SMI in 1975. I was transferred here as the principal last year and met up with him again. He’s a very gentle person, always giving good advice. A man of his times,” said Madam Chan Nyook Ying, Principal of SMI.
“Besides practising the Lasallian core values and non-streaming of classes, Brother Vincent named the school’s sports houses after the Brothers: La Salle, Patrick, U-paul and Augustus. His contributions were not confined to St Michael’s Institution alone but in Malaysia and regionally, as he was teaching in Singapore before he came to Ipoh,” she added.
“The way he talked, slow and steady, with a sense of humour and a twinkle in his eyes to indicate he was speaking with tongue in cheek. His warmth was always felt whenever you were with him,” Victor Chew, Secretary of Ipoh City Watch related. Victor got to meet Brother Vincent at many education-related activities when he started teaching in the late 1980s.
Brother Vincent may no longer be with us but his greatest legacies, character and faith, are forever etched into our minds.