I have spoken to my former Principal/boss of SMKLimbang who wrote an excellent article about Brother Albinus for Borneo Post. The photographs are all from Mr. Phang Chung Shin.
From what I gleaned in the article, Brother Albinus' life has a correlation with the number 3.
Brother Albinus was born Michael O’Flaherty into a farming family in a village called Ballyhoneen in County Kerry,
Ireland, on May 23 1930.
He passed away at age 83, in 2013.
Brother Alinus' family home was one of only three farmhouses in Ballyhoneen
I have several personal encounters with him in his SHS. But then " Abai " as most local teachers and students would refer to him affectionately, isn't here to hooom hooom hooom me as I write this about him. Whenever people mention his name, I would remember the way he "hummed" to himself whenever he walked along the "corridors of Knowledge", the corridors of Sacred Heart School, Sibu. Not that I followed him every day, but I did walk behind him on many occasions when I was the Chief Supervisor of Form Five Examinations in his beloved school. I suppose that was his way of showing that he was "on top of the world" seeing that everything was running smoothly in the school.
He showed great humility. Most Principals would send the school cleaner to unlock the gates of the school blocks during the quiet exam weeks. But he would be there even before Seven!! He would be there with that huge bunch of keys. chose the right one and opened the lock, draw the accordion, collapsible gates for me and I would go upstairs to the exam rooms. Teachers just can't help it. They just had to be on their toes with him around. He truly walked the talk.
He was a man of few words. His students used to tell me that the school blocks in Sacred Heart were aligned in such a way that he could see across, and through the windows and doors. And he could nail a misbehaving student with his "hawk like " eyes. Teachers really appreciated his "walk around the school" and he did it several times a day. He would be at the verandah of one block and he could point at a misbehaving child a block or two away. The boy would be called immediately (in sign language and no shouting necessary) in his office,and he would repentant and chastised within minutes. Boys were always attentive in class because they knew that , like a guardian angel, he would just be behind them, absolutely, quietly.
No one would like to be boxed in the ears by him because legend has it that he was a boxer of some repute!!
He was a Sibu man. BICYLE MAN - for all the games rugby, tennis, football, sports he would watch them sometimes, standing next to his bicycle. He later took driving lessons and passed his test in Sibu. I wonder how many people remember that. We were happy for him but many of the naughty students said,"Now that he has a car, we must behave even better. He can come after us faster!!".
|Getting a medal for his service to Sarawak - PBB.|
From Sibu he got to know many Foochows especially and understood the work culture of the Foochows. When he went to work in Fuzhou for a year in 1997, he was quite at home there. The Fuzhou students are hardworking and also preparing to go overseas, just like his students in Sibu.
Brother Albinus in my pastor Law Hui Seng's words, " is a man of mission". Rev Law Hui Seng is also a former student of Brother Albinus.
For a man who has a heart for mission, he truly followed the Holy Trinity. In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Brother Albinus more than full filled his mission. The young boy of 14 who hailed from Ballyhooneen, in County Kerry, served God whole heartedly for 52 years in Sarawak. He achieved so much for his schools but he had achieved a remarkable record for himself too.
(This is a personal write up for Brother Albinus for people who might not know of his work in Sibu. And I thank him for many of the salient pointers he made during English Teachers' meetings, examination assessment briefings and casual conversations with teachers. These I remember. I left Sibu in 1987, not long after he retired. Thank you.)
(All photos courtesy of Phang Chung Shin)