Hundreds bid last goodbye to Xaverian ‘Uncle Vincent’

GEORGE TOWN: A solemn mood lingered at the Heah Joo Seng Hall at St Xavier’s Institution (SXI) here as hundreds gathered at the funeral mass of M. Vincent Michael.

A former SXI student himself, Vincent, 88, had served the school for the past 70 years before he died last Saturday.

SXI’s board of governors chairman Dr Francis Loh said the loyal Xaverian came under the guardianship of the Brothers in 1941 after a bomb fell on a car and killed his father who was then a driver for the priests of the Assumption Church.

“From then on, Vincent moved in with the Brothers. He served a total of eight different Brothers Directors during his time in SXI and was invariably the repository of the most pertinent and important information of SXI’s past, ” he said.

“Many have enjoyed listening to his stories about the past while others may remember him as the laboratory technician.

“He was the one who ran and organised the science laboratories under various science masters from the 1950s to the 1980s.”

Dr Loh said Vincent had also helped to set up the SXI makeshift laboratory in the hostel garage in 1950, and it was only when the new building was completed that SXI boasted of its state-of-the-art new laboratories.

He said others who remembered Vincent would recall the kind and knowledgeable soul as ‘Uncle Vincent’, the man who screened cowboy and action-packed movies for them in the school hall.

“Most would remember how packed the school halls were in the 1960s when he screened movies for 20 sen a shot on Saturdays.

“Sometimes, more recent films would be screened at a higher price for a good cause.

“But later when television arrived and most families could afford one, Uncle Vincent stopped screening the films, ” he said during the funeral mass at SXI yesterday.

He added that the late Vincent officially retired from his laboratory job in 1989 and moved from his Leith Street quarters into the Brothers’ quarters.

“Even after retirement, he continued to wake up early to be at the school front desk where he was in charge of renting out the school field or hall to the public such as for weddings and private functions.

“Truly, Uncle Vincent can claim the accolade of having resided in SXI for the longest time ever, by anyone, ” Dr Loh said.

During the funeral mass, ex-Xaverians and the public took turns to pay their respects to Uncle Vincent.

His cortege was then sent off by the SXI Corp of Pipes and Drums to the Batu Gantung Crematorium.

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