St. George's School, Brunei
Fr. Piet de Wit was appointed as a resident priest in Brunei Town in 1937 to assist Fr. Arthur Crowther, MHM, who was the first resident priest in Brunei. Fr. Piet de Wit started the first Catholic school in a rented house owned by Mr. Kay in Jalan Padang, which also housed a chapel and the living quarters of the priest.
By 1941, a building to house the activities of the church had been constructed at Kumbang Pasang on the land donated by Mr. George Ah Foott. The school building by this time included a small chapel and living quarters for the resident priest. The priest was also the principal of the school.
During the Japanese Occupation of 1942-45, de Wit together with the other priests were interned by the Japanese and sent to Batu Lintang camp in Kuching. The Japanese authorities used the church for their activities while the Anglicans used the school building for their services.
After the war, the school was re-established and managed by Mr. George Newn Ah Foott with his daughters as the teachers. The Mill Hill Missionary priests continued to come to Brunei from Labuan such as Fr. McCarthy, Fr. Ben Walsh and Fr. William Smit. It was Smit who gave the school the name St. George’s School, after its founder and benefactor.
In 1953, Fr. Delaney was appointed as the resident priest. He was instrumental in constructing many buildings. He extended the school and constructed a new church. This building later became the Parish Hall. Delaney single-handedly taught the twelve Form One students in 1963.
The school building was rebuilt 1963. Fr. Conway was appointed to St. George’s School from July 1964 to June 1965. Mrs. Paula Mah started teaching at St. George’s School in January 1964. She was in charge of the Form Two students. It was also the time when the school uniforms patterns were chosen by the students and permission was granted by Fr. Conway. He was followed by Fr. Wolbers, who was appointed as Acting Rector and School Principal in September 1966. He also made the school uniform official.
The twelve students sat for the Sarawak Junior Exams in 1965 and scored 100% passes. This excellent performance was published in the Borneo Bulletin.
By January 1969, Fr. Jan Dekker was sent as temporary replacement when Fr. Wolbers left. During this period, Bishop Galvin appointed a layman, Mr. Guy Alwines, as Principal of St. George’s School. Fr. Paul Tong was appointed Rector in August 1969. He was followed by Fr. Francis de Vries in 1970 and by Fr. Thomas Keogan.
Fr. Jan Heuschen managed the school from 1972 and took over from Fr. Keogan who left in 1978. After working in Brunei for thirteen years, Fr. Jan Heuschen left in October 1984. Fr. Dunne took over for a short while until Fr. Peter Chiang was transferred to Bandar from the Seria Parish. In 1991 Fr. Chiang and Fr. McClorey had to leave Brunei. The departure of the last two foreign priests was a time of great trial with the burden of responsibility falling into the hands of the single local priest, Bishop Cornelius Sim.