Poster for the Jesuit Jubilee

PART ONE BEFORE WAH YAN DAYS

Chapter 1 The Society of Jesus


To the Greater Glory of God


The Jesuit Jubilee was celebrated at Queen Elizabeth Stadium, on April 7th 2006. It marked the birth of Francis Xavier and Peter Faber five hundred years ago. Together with this was the 450th anniversary of the death of the founder of the Society of Jesus, Ignatius of Loyola. Fr. A. Deignan organized this, with the help of the Past Students’ Association and the Principals of both Wah Yan Colleges. There were over 3000 students present from both Wah Yan Colleges, Pun U Wah Yan Primary, St. Francis Canossian, Marymount Secondary, and St. Francis Xavier College, in Tai Kok Tsui and Tsuen Wan.


This celebration had the meaning of marking the existence of the Jesuits over so many years. Then there are my personal reasons as for the last 55 years my life has seen me a member of the Society of Jesus, whose motto is to live for the Greater Glory of God. The style of life and its objectives have not only nurtured and supported me, but have been the framework of my life. This is why I choose to start with this aspect of my life.


It was January 1950 when I knocked at the door of the Jesuit Superior at St. Francis Xavier’s Church, Dublin. A priest who knew me well had arranged an interview for me. I had already discussed with him for many months my spiritual aspirations, and now I took the first step to join the Jesuits. At that time I was in Pre Medical Studies at the College of Surgeons in Dublin, as my mother was keen on my being a medical doctor.


The Jesuit superior in Ireland, received me cordially and listened to my desire to be a Jesuit. He had been in Hong Kong from 1934- 1937 at the Aberdeen Regional Seminary, and before that he had studied Physics at university. He was keen to enlist more young men to be Jesuits, especially those who could be scientists and also missionaries. His first question to me was if I was willing to do “apostolic missionary work ”, say in Africa, where the Irish Jesuits were then preparing to take on a new mission in what is now Zambia. My answer made me a friend of his for the rest of his life!


The Jesuits became a body of priests about 1540, as the Companions of Jesus. They started as a group of about seven in 1534, who were in Paris studying for Master’s Degrees. Under the spiritual leadership of Ignatius of Loyola, they decided to give all their lives to Christ and work for the salvation of souls. They journeyed to Rome and offered themselves to the Holy Father the Pope to be sent where there was the greater need in the Universal Church. In other words, they were to be sent on “Mission”, to help in the salvation of souls and the service of the Church in any part of the world.


In fact, Jesuit missionaries were soon to be in large numbers in South America, India and all over Europe. But most outstanding was Francis Xavier, who became closely associated with Ignatius since his days in Paris in 1534. Xavier was part of my inspiration in coming to Hong Kong. He died in 1552 off the coast of China, aged 47. He was the pioneer of the Catholic Church in the Far East. He had preached in India and Indonesia and in Japan, but he died on Shangchuan Island ( Sancian) off the coast of China, near Macau, trying to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to China. I wanted to follow him, as many generations of Jesuits had wanted to.


When I joined in Ireland, they were about five hundred Jesuits in Ireland. Since 1880, its Mission had been in Australia. Then, they had taken on a mission in South China and Hong Kong in 1926. The Pope asked the Jesuits in the 1949 to work especially in Africa, and so in 1951 the Irish Jesuits were taking on Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia). The Irish Jesuits planned to send many men to develop Jesuit service already there and expand missionary work.


My reaction to the invitation to do “apostolic missionary work abroad” was immediate. I would surely not feel suitable for work in the “bush”, building churches and schools. I was of a delicate constitution with limited physical strength, so not suitable for “Africa”. Fr.T. Byrne, The Jesuit Superior, looked at me and smiled when I told him this. It made us become friends! We were to be so until he died in Ireland in 1977.


Fr Byrne suggested I continue my medical studies and be an active Catholic in my context. Unless I was a good and active Catholic, I would not be a good Jesuit. I took him at his word. I was an active member of the Legion of Mary, working in the Morning Star Hostel, which was for street sleepers. As a medical student, once a week I served the evening meal at 6pm and after “did” their feet- that is cut their toe nails and treat their bunions and sore feet! Then with other Legionaries, I organized the Confraternity of St.Luke for Catholic Students at the College of Surgeons. Many of these students were from Catholic Secondary Schools and a third were from abroad. The Confraternity met once a month in the Marist Chapel nearby. At the same time, I spent most of my time in the Central Catholic Library, not studying my lectures, but reading books by Jesuits and lives of the saints. I wanted to be like them – preaching and giving retreats, helping people on their journey of life to enter into eternal life and to make a better world.


Jesuits are to be men of virtue and learning who contact adversaries of the Church on the frontiers of Faith and Science. They are also priests bringing the Christian Faith to non-believers, especially in foreign lands. That is what I wanted to be.


Becoming a Jesuit involved family matters, which had to be settled. My mother was keen that I become a doctor. Many who aspired to be Jesuits had to face the same parental opposition. I can only say, that from the moment I entered the Jesuits, my mother was proud of me. In our neighbourhood, she was highly regarded, because her only son had become a “Jesuit”!

By February 1951, Fr. Byrne advised me to start preparations to start the first stage of first Jesuit formation in the coming September. This was two years of spiritual formation and study of Jesuit life before taking Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.

One early afternoon on September 7th,1951, my stepfather and mother and sister drove me to Emo Park, the novitiate where I was to start my training. Along with me was Sean Coghlan, with whom I was to be for more than fifty years, as we both came to Hong Kong. My parents were impressed by the novitiate, a magnificent house, with green copper dome, which was formerly the residence of Lord Portarlington. It now accommodated more than a dozen Jesuit priests and Brothers and over thirty novices. Our setting was in vast estate of about 1000 acres, which the Government had turned into a forestry plantation.


I was happy as a Jesuit novice. I felt that this life was what the Lord was calling me to. Fr. Donal O’Sullivan, our master of novices, was a man I admired: forceful, artistic, and very much in touch with modern intellectual life. He had a low opinion of me. He doubted my suitability to be a Jesuit. I had unusual pious devotions. I seemed sentimental and lacking in clarity of mind. I was very different from the other novices! He judged that I lacked academic talents, and feared my lack of emotional stability.


I can only reflect on the low opinion I have had of a few of the students that I later taught. Perhaps I was as wrong, as my novice master was of me! People do develop later on.

The opinion of my Novice master did not deter me from my resolution to be a Jesuit. I had found what I wanted. Though Jesuit life needed a strong faith, a determined character, clear mind and good manners with social graces, I felt I was called by the Lord to this life. If I had had my way, I would have wanted to stay on for a third year at the novitiate, in prayer and reading spirituality. After that, I wanted to join the Mission Band, a group of Jesuits who went around the country, preaching and giving parish retreats. That is what I felt I could do, with a good voice and youthful presence. But it was not to be. I was to be sent to study at University, along with the other seven who took their Vows with me.


Donal Doyle was one who had already studied one year at University. He went to France for studies Humanities, then to Japan, where he has always been a popular and respected spiritual counselor and English literature teacher at Sophia University. Frank Wafer went to Zambia. Sean Coghlan and me were to go to Hong Kong. Left to work in Ireland were : Brian McNamara (Theology), James Moran ( Educational Theories), Dermot Cassidy ( pastoral) and James Hayes (chaplain in schools).


I would like to end with the words of the Wah Yan Kowloon School Hymn, which really expresses much of the spirit of the Jesuits we were trained in:


Our Captain and our King, We kneel in love before Thee,

Our hearts in tribute bring, Glad homage here to pay.

O do not Thou disdain, The Gift so mean so poor,

More Precious far we fain, Would offer and more pure.

Our deep love O Lord, Till his our life is o’er,

Be Thine for ever more, Yes! Thine forever more. ( 1644)



第一部份 前華仁歲月

第一章 耶穌會


To the Greater Glory of God


二零零六年四月七日,耶穌會在香港伊利沙伯體育館舉辦慶祝會,慶祝聖方濟沙勿略(Francis Xavier) 真福伯鐸法伯爾(Peter Faber) 誕生五百周年,同時,紀念耶穌會的始創人聖依納爵羅耀拉(Ignatius of Loyola) 逝世四百五十週年,由狄恆神父(Fr. A Deignan) 負責籌備,獲得香港與九龍兩間華仁書院的校長與舊生會協助,當日,有超過三千位同學參加,他們來自香港和九龍兩間華仁書院,番禺小學及其他三間中學,包括嘉諾撒聖方濟各學校,瑪利曼中學,聖芳濟書院。


這次慶祝是標誌著耶穌會的悠長歷史! 我的一生中,在過往的五十五年的歲月堙A我是耶穌會的一個成員,我的一生是為讚美主。耶穌會士的生活方式和人生目標,不單止培育了我,支持著我,更是構成我的生命,為此,我選擇從這媔}始講我的一生。


一九五零年的一月,我來到都柏林聖方濟各教堂,拜會耶穌會會長,這次的見面是由一位熟識我的神父安排,我跟他商量有關我的宗教抱負已有幾個月了,現在我踏出第一步,加入耶穌會。


耶穌會士是有德行及學問高深的人,他們將基督教信仰帶給非信徒,特別在海外各地,他們聯繫教會中,在宗教信仰和尖端科學上持相反意見的人,這正是我想做的。


一九五一年二月,博神父 (Fr. Byrne) 通知我,開始準備在九月份的第一次修道士見習的第一階段,這是為期兩年的靈魂的建造及學習耶穌會士的生活,然後才以貧窮,貞潔,服從而立誓。


我很開心成為耶穌會的見習修士,我感到我這一生是依從上主的呼喚。