La Sallian brothers
The school was founded by the La Sallian brothers and as such, has traditionally been headed by a brother. The headmaster of the school was a Brother Director while a Brother Supervisor acted as deputy headmaster. In recent years, the post of Brother Supervisor was replaced with two assistant principals, both not of the order.
One of the more famous Brother Directors is Brother Datuk Lawrence Spitzig, who also served two terms as Brother Director of St. John’s Institution, Kuala Lumpur. He served in SXI from 1960 – 1967.
Brother directors of St. Xavier’s
- Bro. Marius James Byrne, who had already made a name for himself as a successful administrator of the Brothers’ establishment in Penang, in what were then the Federated Malay States, was directed to join the Armidale group and take charge, because of Br Anthony Jerome’s having soon to return to base in Ireland. He returned to his ‘beloved Penang’. Here he effectively remained in charge for the rest of his life; he became Provincial in 1912 and with one short break remained in office until 1946; he died in 1947.
- Bro. Flannan Paul organised St. Michael’s Institution, Ipoh, and for a long time was Director of St. Xavier’s Penang, and the right-hand man of Bro. Marius James, Visitor, whom he replaced for three years in 1926-1928.
- Bro. James Marcian was the Principal of Saint Joseph’s College, HK, in the early 1910s, as well as director of St Xavier’s Institution, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, and St Michael’s Institute, Ipoh, Malaysia in different periods. With Bro. Marcian’s masterly command of English, he wrote the school song for St. Xavier’s and other schools. Bro Marcian served two terms as Director of St Xavier’s Institute, Malaysia, the first was from 1912 to 1915, succeeding Brother James and the second for a brief period in 1917. Brother Marcian was born in Ireland on 31 August 1868, and he served many Christian Schools in Asia since the early part of the century. He died in 1938 in Hong Kong at the age of 70, and his remains are laid to rest in the Christian Brother’s mausoleum in Happy Valley.
- Bro. Barnitus Kennedy was born in Ireland. In 1945, he was appointed Brother Visitor. In 1965, he died in Penang.
- Bro. Paul Gallagher, born in 1883. started his career at St Joseph’s Institution, Singapore in 1910, teaching there until 1919. He also served in the Brother’s schools in Taiping, Ipoh, Manilla and Penang, the latter being his longest posting as Director of St Xavier’s for 20 years. He served as Bro. Visitor from 1926-1929.
- Bro. A. Mathias Linehan
- Bro. Fintan Blake served with much distinction as Bro Director for a period six years and provided superb leadership and would later die during his term as Brother Visitor.
- Bro Anthony Knoll was born in Toronto on 28 October 1916. He received his elementary education at St. Helen’s School in Toronto where he had his first contact with the Christian Brothers. He was deeply influenced by a Brother Clement. Eventually he decided to join the Order. In October 1938, he arrived in Singapore with three other Brothers. He was posted to St. Joseph’s Institution. During the Japanese invasion, he was imprisoned in Changi Prison and later in Sime Road Camp. In prison, he took care of the sick and the old. After liberation, he became the Director of St. Joseph’s Institution, Singapore. In 1953, Brother Anthony became the Director of St. Xavier’s Institution, Penang. In short, he rebuilt these two schools, which were ruined by the war. His hard work cost him ill health and he was advised to take leave. He spent a year of rest and treatment in Canada. In late July 1956, he was posted to La Salle College, Perth Street campus. For the next twenty-five years, he served in Hong Kong, by preference as a simple teacher. He was always concerned about the spiritual development of students and recruited boys for Rosary Crusade. Brother Anthony was a devoted spiritual director of the Legion of Mary in La Salle College. In 1972, Brother Paul Sun, superior-general in exile of the Sacred Heart Brothers in Mainland China, invited Brother Anthony to help out as Vice-principal of St. Joseph’s Anglo-Chinese School. Brother Anthony could not disappoint his dear friend, although it meant that he had to live outside La Salle College. He faced this challenge with full perseverance. In May 1975, he reached a stage of physical and emotional collapse and was brought back to La Salle College. He was later sent to Canada for rest and treatment. He returned to La Salle College and served in the library. Once or twice he collapsed in the library but he always returned with minimum delay. On 28 July 1981, he was up with other Christian Brothers and said the Morning Office (prayer). He placed his host in the communion plate and left the chapel for his room. After breakfast, he was found dead fully dressed in his white robe.
- Bro. Joseph Brophy
- Bro Louis John Michael Jacques, also known as Bro. Theodoret Michael was born in Sarawak. He served in the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in various capacities from 1938 until his retirement in 1986. He was appointed assistant Superior General for Asia (1966–1976), the first Asian in this position responsible for the Brothers’ Communities and schools in the region. Bro Jacques built several schools in the region, among them the St Xavier’s Branch school in Penang, La Salle Ayer Itam, La Salle Junior Training Centre in Ipoh, Assumption School Extension in Butterworth and St George’s Balik Pulau. He founded and advised the Malaysian Federation of Lasallian Associations (MFOLSA).
- Bro. Lawrence Spitzig passed on at the age of 91 on Tuesday 18 August 2009. Born Canadian, his life had been greatly influenced by the La Salle Brothers commitment to education. He left his hometown in Toronto in 1937 to become a missionary and teacher. His first assignment was at St Josephs Institute in Singapore in 1938 at the age of 19, before he was transferred to St Johns during World War II in 1941 (1954–1960 and 1978–1983); St Xaviers Institution Penang (1960–1967) and La Salle Petaling Jaya (1967–1974). Brother Lawrence was teaching in SJI when the Japanese landed in Malaya. He was 20 years old then. He was sent to Pudu Prison and later was a prisoner of war at Changi, Singapore during World War II. He was conferred the Datukship award by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for his service in February. In 1954, he was made principal of St Johns, then at St Xaviers before going to La Salle Petaling Jaya. Before his death, Brother Lawrence, who had taken up Malaysian citizenship, was enjoying his retirement at the Little Sisters of the Poor Home in Cheras.
- Bro. Charles Levin, who began teaching there in 1954, is the longest-serving Brother Director of SXI, having served in that position from 1967-1979. He also had a tour of duty at St. George’s Taiping from 1982 to 1992. An accomplished pianist he is also a linguist speaking fluent Bahasa Malaysia, English, German, French and Mandarin.
- Bro. Casimir Hannon was born in Ireland, the eldest of a family of seven. At 14, he set his sights on becoming a La Salle Brother and joined a six-year foundation programme during which he opted for overseas service. At 20 he was already en route by boat to Malaysia. His first teaching assignment at St. Xavier’s Institution, Penang, was in atap sheds because the splendid old St. Xavier’s had been destroyed during the war. In 1951, at short notice he was transferred to St. Michael’s Institution, Ipoh to teach the senior class, an assignment usually reserved for more senior members of the staff. In 1955, he went on home leave, a memory he would treasure for many years and proceeded to do his university studies at University College Dublin. Returning in 1955 to teach at St. George’s School in Balik Pulau, he was back again in Ipoh in 1962 where he was to remain for the next 15 years. In 1975, he went sabbatical, opting for a course in guidance and counselling in Dublin, Ireland. In 1978 he said goodbye to St. Michael’s to return to St. Xavier’s Institution, teaching sixth form. The following year in July 1979 he was appointed Director, a post he was to hold for the next 14 years. When he finally retired in 1993 it was to continue his own academic studies. He opted for a MA in English as a second language at the University of Wales. On returning he joined the academic staff of De La Salle Institute. In January 1996 he was officially appointed Principal of Sek. Men. Stella Maris, a post he had already held informally in the latter part of the previous year. His gift for hard work and his rapport with teachers and parents helped the fledgling school to develop strong wings, and a sense of its special identity as a school of excellence. In July 1996 when serious apprehensions developed regarding his health, there was widespread dismay. Despite his failing health, his commitment to Stella Maris remained firm and unyielding, and within weeks he was back at his post as Principal, and back in the classroom to continue his passion for teaching.
- Bro. Paul Ho, the first local to serve as principal in the school’s 157-year history, was the last of the La Salle brother principals in Malaysia.He was a good baker as he ran the most famous bakery at Saint Xavier’s. He retired in June 2009.