Chapter 23 My Hong Kong Jesuit context

My religious family life

It was in 1950 when I decided my vocation was to be a Jesuit priest. I saw even then that I wanted a life with other priests- meaning that I would like to live in a community of priests. My life would not just be in an association or a club, but in a bonded community, with specific aims and special life style as a Jesuit.

As I look back, I saw that I did not feel I would be able to support a family. I did not like the life of a husband and wife with children and relatives. I wanted the active life of a priest, dedicated to others and to prayer. My ideals did not fit into what people call a family life. My ideal was in my vocation as a Jesuit.

To be concrete, I must confess that I wanted a bed and books, but especially to go to Mass every day. Most important, I wanted support in my following of Christ and direction in service of other. I chose my group carefully, feeling that I was following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This group (Jesuits) was to look after me very well. I have never had to think about finances, but of only doing the Will of God. I felt secure and that I was being looked after tenderly.

I have always had the good companionship of other Jesuits who had the same ideals and goals. Much of this time has had me living in Wah Yan College, Kowloon. This has been an ideal location, as I lived above the classrooms in which I taught. It was also convenient to go any where in Kowloon, the New Territories or Hong Kong. And what could be a better environment than parkland in King’s Park.

But what makes life abundant is relations with people, and I found it with other Jesuits, the teachers in the school and the students I teach. Then I cannot hide the other friends and contacts I have had, which are varied and rich! I can only wish such a “family” to many other people.

Context of other Jesuits

There has been little mention of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong. I must then show my connections, as we are in many ways the same school as Wah Yan College, Hong Kong.

Wah Yan Kowloon was a branch college of Wah Yan Hong Kong until about 1965. There were often exchanges of Jesuit teachers from Kowloon and Wah Yan Hong Kong, and the other way round. But after 1965, the education department considered Wah Yan Kowloon as an independent college. For a teacher to transfer, the process of application for teaching position had to be gone through, as though it was a new teacher. In fact since 1965 there has been little interchange of Jesuit teachers.

Fr. Derek Reid came to Kowloon as Principal from Wah Yan College, Hong Kong in 1967. Many years later in 1978, Fr. Alfred Deignan came as Principal. Actually he came from Ricci Hall, where he was Warden, but he had previously also been in Wah Yan College, Hong Kong.

In recent years, there have been institutional moves to bring the two Colleges together as they come from the same founder, have the same roots, same spirit and the same Jesuit directions. The initiative of “Wah Yan One Family” in the year 2000 is an example. The fact that the Principals of each College are now in each other’s management committee is another. The Students’ Association of each College regularly exchange visits. There is a combined Teachers’ Development Day for both WahYans and so forth.

When Wah Yan College, 56 Waterloo Road opened in September 1952, the afternoon school and evening school at Robinson Road came to join us. Both schools are Jesuit sponsored and have had Jesuits teaching in them for over fifty years.

In my case, I never taught at 281 Queen’s Road East, nor have I had much contact with teachers there. It could indicate that my interests were not really teaching! On the other hand, the two schools are in some ways different. Some even say they have different cultures! WYK could be said to be in Mongkok and Yaumatei, while WYHK is in Happy Valley and Wanchai. WYK has vast grounds, while HKWY has very restricted space, as everything on Hong Kong Island. WYK has more students and a large Chapel with many Masses. Wah Yan Hong Kong has Pun U Primary School, from which most of its students come, while Wah Yan Kowloon has no primary school, but receives good students from many primary schools. Teachers from both schools rarely meet, but measures are being taken for more contacts and sharing.

Besides the two Wah Yan Colleges, Jesuits have been at the University of Hong Kong since 1929 at Ricci Hall. Many of our past students have lived at Ricci Hall, but I have had only slight contacts in university circles. However, it is the oldest of Jesuit communities, as it opened in 1929, and has always been the centre of Jesuit administration. I have been visiting there regularly and feel it is the heart of Jesuit life in Hong Kong.

The Holy Spirit College in Aberdeen used to be called The South China Regional Seminary before 1964. It was considered one of our most important activities of Jesuits in Hong Kong. Every year, more than six Jesuits were responsible for the formation and training of priests there from 1931 to 1964. After than, Jesuits continued to teach there. I have had hardly any contacts with that important place. However, I have been in contacts with people teaching there ever since I came to Hong Kong.

Finally there is our retreat house at No.27 Peak Road, Cheung Chau. I like it, and lived there for two years in 1960. Since then I have occasionally gone there for retreats, but again had only superficial contacts. It has always had a priority in the eyes of Jesuits, as it is a place for the Spiritual Exercises and other spiritual formation and direction.

Apart from my superficial contacts with these other Jesuit activities, I have had good and frequent personal contacts with the Jesuits in those places. They are also part of my religious family, of which I am proud.

Finally there are the many Jesuits who pass through Hong Kong from Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines, Australia, Ireland and others from all over the world. We are all one world wide Society of Jesus, working for the Kingdom of God.

Modern Jesuit Vision

I had a dream for my life as a youngster and I found that being a Jesuit fulfilled it. I understand now how my dream fitted into the Jesuit Mission.

Today it could be expressed in new words. It is a vision of a new world community of justice, truth, love and peace. We Jesuits always had this vision as working for the Kingdom of God. It was also in my call to follow Christ. To implement this vision requires educated persons of competence, conscience and compassion. This is also the aim of ignatian education.

Recently Jesuits have expressed this vision with a commitment to working for the freedom and dignity of all peoples. It embraces and promotes all that is fully human. This can be seen in ignatian schools, which not only promote all human knowledge but especially the development of people to be fully in their culture, and able to communicate clearly, correctly and elegantly.

What has attracted many Jesuits to leave schools, is the need for contact between culture and faith, and to develop society and its structures. This involves a renewal of our social, economic and political systems. For this, Jesuits endeavour to educate people in faith and justice. To form people who have a powerful sense of how they can be effective advocates, agents and models of God’s justice, love and peace within and beyond the ordinary opportunities of life and work.

Underpinning all this is the vision of God as the source of all reality, truth and goodness, which is the spiritual basis of Jesuit life.

When I look back over my happy life, I have described how I never wanted to be a school teacher. It was because I did not see how teaching a class of students could achieve my Jesuit vision. It was only in 1982 that I began to see how teaching Form Three boys English and Ethics could also realize the Jesuit vision. I am grateful to all who have helped me.

We Jesuits often ask ourselves where the need is greater, and perhaps to where the Faith is weakest. We discern in charity to find where the Lord is leading us. We feel we need to respond to the needs of the world and people. The great challenge for us Jesuits in Hong Kong is the evangelization of the Chinese people, who comprise more than one in five of the people of the world. I hope I have been helping. ( 1522)

Blessing of Sacred Heart Statue for 80th Anniversary of WYK 2004

第二十三章 聖依納爵教堂




在二零零六年,教堂裝修,裝修了受洗池,拼花地板,及一些其他改變,一九九六年跟隨香港其他的教堂一樣,裝上空調(/冷氣) ,這是香港的普遍生活作風(/風格),在一九八八年,有另一個更大的改變,是應主教的要求,變成一個牧民區,主教同時要求我們,為附近的地區負責牧民工作,自此,可以在聖依納爵教堂進行洗禮和堅信禮,以前都是在聖德 撤聖堂舉行的。

教堂由多位耶穌會士主持,慣常是公教神父負責,像Mcgovern 神父,Corbally神父和陳福偉神父,而陳福偉神父不擔任公教神父,仍主持教堂,陳神父改變了教堂,他著手辦了很多耶蘇會的活動,他聚集了很多華仁以外的人,來上天主教徒的學習課程,教導如何成為天主教徒,他同時成立了,很多不同的天主教虔誠宗教的組織,陳神父將聖依納爵教堂,變成為香港教區一個重要天主教活動中心,可說在一九七四年至一九九一年,他是聖依納爵教堂的支柱。後來,他返回倫敦,聖博德華人教區,他於一九九五年在都柏林辭世。