BERNAMA, December 11, 2007
By Azril Annuar
PETALING JAYA, Dec 11 (Bernama) — Nurture the seed of peace and harmony with the water of appreciation and understanding of cultures, customs and religions.
That, in a nutshell, sums up Sister Enda Ryan’s recipe for success.
The founder of Assunta primary and secondary schools in Petaling Jaya revealed that she had been planting such `seeds’ in the hearts and minds of her students.
“At Assunta, I’ve always taught my girls more about the heart, rather than the head. To feel love, compassion, understanding and appreciation of each other and our differences. We are all God’s children,” she said.
“Franciscan sisters and brothers have always promoted peace and understanding of other religions as it was taught by our founder, Saint Francis of Assisi.
“When I first arrived here in January 1955, I was pleasantly surprised to see the understanding and appreciation that all ethnic groups had for each other…it was more than what I had experienced in Ireland, my country of birth.
“And, it truly gladdens my heart that the government has never prohibited the practice of any religion and allows everyone to worship as they see fit,” she said.
She said this in an interview with Bernama at the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Assunta Convent here.
In line with the teachings of her order, Sister Enda, who received her Malaysian citizenship in 1966, believes in peaceful solutions to any problem or conflict.
During the interview, she expressed sadness over the illegal rallies in the country.
She felt that those who were involved in such illegal gatherings should only hit the streets after all avenues of discussion had been exhausted — not as the primary means of getting their voices heard.
“Perhaps the government should have allowed them to walk. But then again, I don’t know what might have happened if the authorities did not stop these people…I don’t want a May 13 to repeat itself, as I was there when it happened.”
Sister Enda counts Mercy Malaysia founder Dr Jemilah Mahmud as one of her students.
“It gladdens my heart to see that the school spirit is very much alive in her. This is how it should be for all Malaysians,” she said.
Sister Enda has been conferred a datukship by the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, in conjunction with the sultan’s birthday today.
Born Ellen Philomena Ryan on Dec 30, 1928, she is one of the foremost contributors to education in the state, having been active in educating the diverse peoples of Malaysia since its independence.
Hailing from a small town in Ireland, Sister Enda was 21 when she was sent here by the Order of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary after completing her degree in education, psychology and philosophy.