The Chapel of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, at Stella Maris International School

Our Lady, Star of the Sea is an ancient title for the Virgin Mary. The words Star of the Sea are a translation of the Latin title Stella Maris. The title has been in use since at least the early medieval period. Originally arising from a scribal error in a supposed etymology of the name Mary, it came to be seen as allegorical of Mary’s role as “guiding star” on the way to Christ. Under this name, the Virgin Mary is believed to intercede as a guide and protector of seafarers especially when they are in trouble.

The Chapel in Stella Maris International School offers distinct worship experiences that encourage individuals to celebrate their Catholic faith traditions. It also offers spiritual rest amidst the rigours and demands of school life and the nurturing of faith in God.

Situated on the ground floor of the School, the Chapel occupies an area of 176 square metres. It was blessed and consecrated on the Feast of the Assumption on 15 August 2017, which was also the Anniversary Day of the School, by Archbishop Emeritus of Kuala Lumpur, Tan Sri Datuk Murphy Pakiam.

Monthly Masses are celebrated in the Chapel by visiting priests. Normally the School celebrates two Masses, one on the first Friday and the other on the third Friday, in each month. The first Friday’s Mass is for Catholic students in the Primary Wing and the third Friday’s Mass for Catholic students of the Secondary Wing and the Pre-University Centre. Rosaries are recited daily during the months of May and October each year by Catholic staff of the School and the Way of the Cross is conducted in Lent. The Catholic Staff Society uses the chapel to talk about the Catholic faith to students of the Catholic Students Society. Classes in Bible Knowledge are also conducted in the Chapel. The Chapel was also occasionally used by the French community of Damansara Heights for Masses.

The Chapel has a four feet high crucifix on the wall behind the altar and the statue of our Lady flanks the left side of the altar. The other unique feature of the chapel is its four simulated stained-glass windows that illuminate the interior with a kaleidoscope of colours. The concept and idea were given by Brig Gen (Rtd) Dato’ Richard Robless and designed and executed by our in-house artist.

The Simulated Stained-Glass Windows

These windows are fitted with imageries depicting Biblical scenes juxtaposed with modern societal events to represent timeless Christian virtues of loving, caring, sharing and service, which underscore the School’s Ethos of being Catholic in character and Malaysian in orientation.

First Window – LOVING

Fashioned after the Pieta, a marble sculpture by Michelangelo in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, the first window imagery tells the story of true love. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). It also tells of love in Mary’s heart, and in every mother’s heart for that matter. This window tells our students to recognize the love of God for everyone quoting our Ethos “… Providing for the proper formation of character with love for all people, irrespective of background.

Second Window – CARING

Inspired by the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the second window imagery depicts the need to exercise care and charity towards mankind. It takes the love of God and courage to go out of the way to help others in need. This window tells our students that they must “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12: 31). While others are likely to only watch at a distance, may we care for those who need help with immediate concrete acts of charity. This window aims to tell our students just this: “We believe in God and care for all God’s creation.

Third Window – SHARING

Many have always been intrigued by the Biblical story of Jesus miraculously feeding the multitude. This window imagery aims to tell our students that Jesus used the disciples (and the boy with the five loaves of bread and two fish) to bless others through the simple act of sharing. And by this, we remind our students that God uses them to bless others as well through sharing. Our students are taught to be unselfish and to be charitable towards others through sharing. This is part of “inculcation of values” that is stated in the School’s Ethos.

Fourth Window – SERVICE

As in the other windows, this panel depicts a fusion of biblical and modern local Malaysian scenes. The early Christian church observed this custom to project the act of service to mankind (John 13.5). Jesus humbled Himself to perform this act of servitude of washing his disciples’ feet despite being their master and rabbi. This window aims to tell our students that they too must be humble at all times and to be of service to society. This exemplary act of Jesus cuts through time and space and reaches us all today. Our students are taught to reach out to others regardless of their status, race or creed. Through this, our students are nurtured and refined to become people who are selfless especially to those in need. Our School’s Ethos reads “We achieve this through purposively designed curricula…all of which contribute to the growth of the whole person and the development of model citizens of tomorrow.

In LAUDATO SI, Pope Francis writes, “ Society is also enriched by a countless array of organisations which work to promote the common good and to defend the environment, whether natural or urban. Some, for example, show concern for a public space (a building, a fountain, an abandoned monument, a landscape, a square), and strive to protect, restore, improve or beautify it as something belonging to everyone. Around these community actions, relationships develop or are recovered and a new social fabric emerges. Thus, a community can break out of the indifference induced by consumerism. These actions cultivate a shared identity, with a story which can be remembered and handed on. In this way, the world, and the quality of life of the poorest, are cared for and a sense of solidarity which is at the same time aware that we live in a common home which God has entrusted to us.”

Semper Excelsius in thoughts, words and deeds are what we strive to impart to our students in consonance with the Pope’s encyclical.