A tearful goodbye for Sister Enda

PETALING JAYA: The mood was sombre and the tears flowed, but the cherished memories were pleasant as more than a thousand people gathered at the Church of St Francis Xavier in Petaling Jaya to pay their last tributes to the late Sister Enda Ryan (pic).

Friends, former students and family members were there to bid a poignant farewell to the founder of SMK Assunta who passed away on Sunday at the age of 96.Marie Healy, Sister Enda’s niece, expressed sadness over the passing of the former Assunta all-girls school headmaster.

“She was a person who was full of life and enjoyed life so much,” said Marie, who was there with her husband Victor Healy and their children Zara and Andrew.

Sombre moment: Sister Enda’s funeral took place at the Church of St Francis Xavier in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.Sombre moment: Sister Enda’s funeral took place at the Church of St Francis Xavier in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Zara said whenever Sister Enda returned to her birthplace in Ireland, they would get really excited to see her playing the keyboard.

“She would play (the keyboard) and sing. She was always singing,” added Zara.

The funeral mass began at 10.30am yesterday, with a hymn playing in the background.

The mass ended at 11.30am and the hearse carrying Sister Enda’s coffin was paraded around SMK Assunta, where the school anthem was played.

The hearse left the school shortly after noon to the Petaling Jaya crematorium in Kampung Tunku.

Sister Enda’s dedication to service, and giving through education and charities, dates back to her arrival in Malaya in 1955.

She had made significant contributions throughout her lifetime – from championing women’s education to assisting her Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) sisters in the growth of the Ave Maria Clinic, which has expanded to Assunta Hospital today.

During her 31 years of dedicated service, Sister Enda received numerous awards, including the Excellent Service Award from the Education Ministry (1985), Pingat Jasa Cemerlang (1986), Pingat Jasa Kebaktian (PJK) from DYMM Sultan of Selangor (1987) and Anugerah Tokoh Guru Selangor (1990).

Sister Enda was also conferred an honorary doctorate in humanities from Taylor’s University in 2022.

Born Eileen Philomena Ryan on Dec 30, 1928 in Galbally, Ireland, Sister Enda joined the FMM in 1947 and arrived in then-Malaya in 1955 following a request by Michael Hogan (the then-Chief Justice of Malaya) to set up schools for girls whose education had been disrupted during the Communist insurgency.

She became a Malaysian citizen in October 1966.

The Assunta girls schools have produced several notable women, including former Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Aziz, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood and model Kavita Kaur.

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