APRIL 1, 2022: A school in Damansara seemed like an unlikely place for the launch of a book on the life of Malaysia’s sole cardinal, His Eminence Anthony Soter Cardinal Fernandez, who passed away on Oct 28, 2020. The Stella Maris Group of Schools, however, is an appropriate host.
Especially since the Stella Maris Group of Schools was the direct result of His Eminence Anthony Soter Cardinal Fernandez’s actions triggered by his desire to see a continuity in the foundation laid by the Christian Brothers and Sisters in education. The then Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur saw the diminishing influence of the religious orders and wanted the KL Archdiocese to pursue the private education agenda.
A conference involving stakeholders was called in 1987 and that led to the creation of the Malaysian Catholic Education Council which was placed under the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur. This was four years after he became the second Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur.
In 1994, the first Stella Maris school in Pudu was blessed by the Apostolic Delegate to Malaysia H.E. Archbishop Luigi Bressan, the second school in Ampang by Archbishop Soter in 2003, the third in 2013 by Emeritus Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam and the fourth in 2018 by current Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim. The third and fourth schools are in Damansara.
All the four schools in three campuses are owned and operated by the Yayasan Tan Sri Dominic Vendargon which was set up by Archbishop Soter to control and house all the KL Archdiocese’s interests in private education under one roof. The foundation was named after the KL’s first archbishop and Cardinal Fernandez’s predecessor the late Emeritus Archbishop Tan Sri Dominic Vendargon. It was incorporated in 2000.
“All four schools stand brightly lit as stars born from the burning quest of one man. This is his testament. This is his legacy and whilst we may have lost our mentor, we look at what he has left us and we stand thankful and grateful to God for this great and loyal servant of His,” said Brig-Geb (Rtd) Dato’ Richard Robless, Chairman of the Council of Directors of the foundation.
He said this yesterday (March 31) at the launch of the book The Cardinal: The Life and Times of His Eminence Anthony Soter Cardinal Fernandez written by E. Samson and published by the Catholic Research Centre. The event was live streamed.
Samson started working on the book more than two years ago before the passing of the cardinal. “I had planned to have this book published when the Cardinal was still alive. Unfortunately, it was not so.” He said, in his speech at the book launch, that he was able to read the earlier chapters to the Cardinal allowing him to make edits and changes.
“He was my boss at one time and my mentor. He taught me a lot. His vision was pastorally-oriented as a leader of the local Church. He did not think in a singular way, but thought holistically,” said Samson, who was the director of the now-defunct Cahayasuara Communications Centre of the KL Archdiocese.
The book was launched by Most Reverend Julian Leow Beng Kim, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur. “He was small in stature but his work was far too enormous to be put in one book. The book talks about his humble beginning up to the time when he became a cardinal,” said Archbishop Julian in his speech.
“This book is a historic legacy for this generation and many generations to come.”
If you would like to buy the book, please contact the Catholic Research Centre at 03-2026-6472 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost is RM30 (excludes postage).