Obituary – Brother Matthew Bay

When Brother Matthew retired from teaching in St Michael’s in 2011, he was the last Brother to teach in the school.  With his passing on 25th January, there are now no more surviving Brothers from the school.

For those who have studied in a La Sallian school, news of the passing of Brother Matthew Bay is a sad reminder of the good ol’ days.  Especially for those boys from St George’s Taiping who were taught by him, the loss is felt even more deeply.  From 1968 to 1992, Brother Matthew taught hundreds if not thousands of boys in and outside the classroom.  From 1992 until retirement he taught at St Michael’s.

In both schools, many were the lives which he touched. Like so many who have studied in our Brothers’ school, the experience of being nurtured and brought up into adulthood by a Brother or Brothers was singularly unique and gave them a wonderful head start in life. Brother Matthew’s boys are no exception and they hold him in the highest of regard and affection  for being a mentor and teacher.

He not only taught English, Art and other subjects but he was very much a father figure to many of them who were in the scout movement, those who loved  swimming and  those who joined the life saving society.   It was Brother Matthew who made them to be  what they are today. Truly, it was  because of him that  they have experience  of  the tree houses,  the camp fires , cooking outdoors, hiking, building a canoe besides  rearing fish  and numerous other activities.

Old Anthonians, Old Georgians and Old Michaelians who were taught by Brother Matthew they all are thankful to him for being mentor, friend, lifesaving instructor, coach, scoutmaster and of course as a teacher extraordinaire. A lasting impression he has left on them all.

Like the Brothers before him and those who worked alongside him in La Sallian Brothers’ schools, teaching was not an occupation or a means of just earning a living.  Neither was it a 9 to 5 routine. To him, it was a vocation.  It was a calling from God to serve the young of the country. Like many locally born Brothers, Brother Matthew underwent his Juniorate, Postulancy and Novitiate at St Joseph’s Penang.  He took his first vows in 1965 and his Perpetual Vows in 1974. The vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.

Brother Matthew’s vocation is worthy of recall because they do  not make teachers like him  anymore.  His Brotherhood is not just a small band of men or good men determined to give their whole life for the advancement of young boys (& girls too ).  At the last count there are today less than 15 Brothers left today. And all in retirement.

It is well known that Brother declined to be Brother Director or Principal of the school.  For him, administration and dealing with the bureaucracy was not his cuppa tea. He preferred action in the outdoors and indulging in photography.

After retirement, Brother Matthew remained active in the La Sallian family,  Living in the Brothers’ community in the La Salle Centre, Brother continued to to be a source of encouragement to the life and activities of the school. Together with Brother Vincent, he was a prime mover behind the annual leadership camp for La Salle Schools.  He was also active in the Boards of the three schools in Perak; namely, St Michael’s, St George’s and St Anthony’s.  From its inception, Brother Matthew was also a founding member of the Perak La Sallian Education Council. As previously he preferred to work behind the scene.  He did not relish the role of a prima donna but instead would be a loyal backroom worker.

Brother Matthew was a quiet, unassuming person who has left behind a lasting legacy and a fine example of what all teachers aspire to be.

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