Born: 03 November 1931, Damascus, Syria
Entered: 07 September 1951, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 15 May 1965, Saint Ignatius Chapel, Wah Yan College, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Final Vows: 03 January 1971, Wah Yan College, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Died: 04 October 2018, Kwong Wah Hospital, Hong Kong - Sinensis Province (CHN)
Transcribed HIB to HK: 03 January 1971; HK to CHN : 1992
by 1961 at Cheung Chau, Hong Kong - Regency studying language
by 1962 at Bellarmine, Baguio City Philippines (ExOr) studying
◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
The four members of the Diocesan Ecumenical Commission; Theresa Kung, Father Stephen Tam, Sister Laura Watt and myself, had the opportunity to make a follow up visit to the Studium Biblicum run by the Hong Kong Bible Society on June 12. We had already been able to look at the books of bible stories, which are presented in beautifully printed and strikingly attractive cartoons, but on this occasion, the topic under discussion revolved around what type of cooperation the Studium Biblicum could offer to the commission in terms of enhancing ecumenical relations in the diocese.
Father Placid Wong Kwok-wah spoke of the decades it took the staff at the Studium Biblicum to translate the scriptures into Chinese and the endless hours that went into producing the first, one-volume Catholic Chinese Bible, which was published in 1968. On the wall of the conference room, portraits of seven Franciscans, who had laboured over the production of that historic publication and now have been called to their eternal reward, are hung. Father Placid is the last of the team still alive.
However, he noted that a translation of the bible is never finished and requires constant updates, as in the past decades, there have been changes in both the written and spoken language.
“People just write and speak differently from what they did 50 years ago,” he told the visiting ecumenical commission. He explained the ins and outs of the extensive revision necessary to update the four gospels, as well as the Old Testament, which he described as long and meticulous work, probably taking at least 10 years.
Periodic checking is also necessary and suggested updates are sent to Catholic scholars in Taiwan and more recently in southern China for comment. Material is also sent to the Orthodox authorities for double checking on the accuracy in the translation.
However, even with limited resources in both personnel and computing, efforts still continue to make the Chinese translations faithful to the original texts, as well as comprehensible and acceptable to modern readers. Father Wong also had high praise for the quality of downloading of texts onto MP3, which he described as being common today and acceptable.
For me it was a worthwhile day out, as the last time I was there was to visit Father Theobald Deiderick in 1979!
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 27 June 2010
Wah Yan mourns the death of teacher par excellence
A Jesuit educator par excellence and one of the most endearing figures of the Jesuit Wah Yan College, Kowloon, Father Harold Cosmatos Naylor passed away on October. 4. As a dedicated educator, he has inspired generations of students at the Wah Yan College with his innovative teaching methods.
According to Father Stephen Chow Sau-yan, head of the Chinese Province of the Society of Jesus in Hong Kong, Father Naylor will be remembered for his commitment to ecological education and Christian Ecumenism. “His creative pedagogy was way ahead of his time. Father Naylor was very committed to a simple lifestyle, caring for the poor, protecting the environment, and fostering Christian ecumenical dialogue,” said Father Chow.
Father Naylor was born in Damascus, Syria on 3 November 1931 and was baptised in the Anglican Church in Jerusalem. After the elementary education in Jerusalem his parents moved to Dublin in 1942. After becoming a Catholic at the age of 18, in 1951 he entered the Society of Jesus in Ireland.
Father Naylor came to Hong Kong in 1960 and studied Cantonese while staying in Cheung Chau for two years. He then moved to the Philippines for his Theology studies at Bellarmine College, Baguio and returned to Hong Kong in 1965 and was ordained a priest on May 15 at St. Ignatius Chapel, Wah Yan College by Bishop Laurence Bianchi, late Bishop of Hong Kong.
Father Naylor had his illustrious career as an educator and a champion of green movement at the Wah Yan College from 1967 to 2016. In the meantime, in 1968, he co-founded Hong Kong’s first conservation group, together with Lindsay Ride, former vice chancellor the University of Hong Kong, and vice-president of Chung Chi College Robert Rayne. During this period, he also served as a promoter and member of Diocesan Ecumenical Commission, and a chaplain at Kwong Wah Hospital.
His Autobiography, No Regrets ends with these words:
What then could be my last word? It is of gratitude to the students whom I have taught, thanks to the teachers who have put up with me, and indebtedness to Hong Kong, which has given me such a wonderful life.
I have lived in the same room in Wah Yan College for forty years. My fellow Jesuits have been supportive and friendly. I have enjoyed living in the greenery and good air in ten acres of King’s Park. No wonder I have no regrets, but only happiness and joy in my heart.
Then I have to add all those I have known as a priest outside the school, and they are in the hundreds. And all this happens in my adopted home of Hong Kong, so thanks to Hong Kong and all its people who have harboured me and made my life so happy.
A Funeral Mass for Father Naylor was celebrated on October 11 by Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-Cheung, Bishop of Hong Kong at St. Ignatius Chapel, where Father Naylor was ordained a priest 53 years ago.
He had donated his remains to Hong Kong University (HKU) for medical studies. HKU received his remains on October 12.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 14 October 2018
◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/harold-naylor-sj-a-wonderful-life-in-hong-kong/
Harold Naylor SJ: A “wonderful life” in Hong Kong
Fr Harold Naylor SJ died peacefully in Hong Kong on 4 October, 2018 at the age of 87. He is the third Irish Jesuit missionary to have passed away this year. His funeral takes place at Saint Ignatius Chapel, Wah Yan College secondary school in Hong Kong on 11 October, 2018.
Fr Naylor was not born in Ireland; it was his adopted homeland and, he said, “the only place I ever felt welcome and wanted”. He spent the first 19 years of his life in the Middle East, in cities including Damascus, Cairo, and Jerusalem, and attended boarding school in Beirut. He felt out of place in these places, because of his unusual heritage. His mother was from a Greek family who lived in Egypt and his father was an Englishman who arrived in the country as a dispatch rider for the army at the start of World War I. His parents married in 1929. They lived a happy life in the Middle East, but things changed in 1948 when his father died. His mother became engaged to an Irish man who was in the Palestinian police, and when the Jewish state of Israel came into being he brought the family to his homeland, Ireland.
Joining the Society of Jesus
Fr Naylor attended Trinity College Dublin as a medical student but he knew that he wanted a spiritual life, and left after a year. In January 1950 he knocked at the door of the Jesuit Superior at St Francis Xavier’s Church, Dublin and this interview was the first step to join the Jesuits. He was accepted and so began his journey with the Society of Jesus. The Irish Jesuits planned to send many men to develop Jesuit service in what was then known as Northern Rhodesia – Zambia – to expand missionary work. Fr Naylor was excited to become a missionary, but felt that his lifelong delicate constitution prevented him being of best service in the harsh environment of Africa. He was asked to become a missionary to China, and the thought of following Jesuits Francis Xavier and Matteo Ricci gave him great joy.
In an interview with Maurice O’Keeffe from Irish Life and Lore, Fr Naylor stated: “So, after a year in college my mother took me away”. “I can see where your heart is. Go ahead,” she said. “And I became a Jesuit... It took me two years to make the decision”. He also spoke about his early days in the Society: “When I joined the Jesuits, I didn’t feel Irish. I’m an Englishman... I was the only foreigner in the Jesuit house.” He commented that many of the Jesuits were pro-nationalist who only spoke in Irish. However, when he got the call later to go to Hong Kong, he was told it was better to be English.
Wah Yan College, Kowloon
He first travelled to Hong Kong in 1960 to begin his mission, and spent an interim four years (1962 – 1967) in the Philippines to better prepare him for his work in China. He recalls these years as among the happiest of his life. He took a post in the Jesuit-run Wah Yan College in Kowloon in 1967, and remained there for more than forty years. Fr Naylor was a year-three English and Biology teacher, but his commitment to the students of the college was in more than just teaching.
In 1968 he took over from fellow Irish Jesuit Fr Joseph Mallin SJ (who died earlier this year) as the Director of the Wah Yan Poor Boys’ Club and was delighted to have the opportunity to help young boys who had no opportunity of schooling. The club members were living in huts or on rooftops. Some of them were apprentices. He attributed the idea behind the club as coming from Belvedere College, where he had studied in Dublin. There was a Newsboys Club for young boys who sold newspapers and were not able to go to school. The club became, after several years, the Wah Yan Childrens’ Club and Fr Naylor remained as Director from 1968 to 1994.
Speaking with The Shield about teaching ethics at Wah Yan College, Fr Naylor noted: “A teacher is to help a person to grow and develop”. It’s not only biological growth. It’s also emotional growth; it’s intellectual growth; it’s imagination growth; and it’s moral growth.
In the South China Morning Post, Civic Party chairman Alan Leong Kah-kit, who studied at Wah Yan College from 1971 to 1978, said Father Naylor was an unconventional teacher who conducted a lot of field trips even in the 1970s. “He was well liked by his students and I am sure he will be remembered as an enlightening mentor to many,” Leong said. The long list of Naylor’s pupils at the college includes Leong, lawmaker James To Kun-sun, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu and Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung.
Conservancy and ecology
In 1968 Fr Naylor received a letter from Chung Chi College, Hong Kong inviting him to join its prestigious Conservancy Association. Botany and ecology were lifelong interests of his and after joining the association he began the Secondary School Conservancy Clubs and studied Ecology at the University of Hong Kong.
His involvement in ecology attracted the attention of the South China Morning Post and he wrote a column on environmental matters for over two years. Environmental news was a hot topic in the 1970s, and Fr Naylor went on to become a delegate representing Hong Kong at the United Nations Conference on The Human Environment, in Stockholm, June 1972. He had a commitment to what is now known as sustainable living and enjoyed living a simple life. Wah Yan College Kowloon is an ideal of sustainable living and is unusual in having vast areas of greenery in low-density building, where parts of Hong Kong have the highest residential population per square kilometre in the world.
Reflection on his life
In a 2007 interview, Fr Naylor reflected on his decades in Hong Kong and concluded that his life there had been a happy and fulfilling one.
“What then could be my last word? It is of gratitude to the students whom I have taught, thanks to the teachers who have put up with me, and indebtedness to Hong Kong, which has given me such a wonderful life. I have lived in the same room in Wah Yan College for forty years. My fellow Jesuits have been supportive and friendly. I have enjoyed living in the greenery and good air in ten acres of King’s Park. No wonder I have no regrets, but only happiness and joy in my heart. Then I have to add all those I have known as a priest outside the school, and they are in the hundreds. And all this happens in my adopted home of Hong Kong, so thanks to Hong Kong and all its people who have harboured me and made my life so happy.”
◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
He was at school with Ciarán Kane in Belvedere College Dublin, but joined the Society two years after him. He joined after four years of deliberation.
After First Vows he was sent to University College Dublin where he graduated BSc in Natural History, Geology, Botany and Zoology, intending that this would be helpful in understanding the relationship between Christianity and Science.
After this he was sent to study Philosophy for three years, and he was encouraged to consider the issues of handing the faith to non-believers.
He was sent to teach Science at Mungret College SJ Limerick for Regency.
1960 In August he was in Hong Kong and spent two years at Cheung Chau with a private tutor learning Cantonese.
1962-1966 He was in the Philippines at Bellarmine College, Baguio, along with 65 other Jesuits destined for work in China. The College was mandarin speaking, and so he had chosen to go there deliberately with mainland China in mind. By 1964 there were 15 Jesuits who had learned Vietnamese and knew no Chinese, and the young Chinese were gravitating towards Taiwan
1966-1967 He made Tertianship in Dublin
1967 He was back in Hong Kong teaching at Wah Yan College Kowloon, and encouraged to also work with Alumni. He engaged in ecumenical work and was active in the environmental movement. he also spent the weekends on priestly ministries.
1981 He was offered a sabbatical at the age of 50, but he declined it as he was convinced of the value of teaching and wanted to keep his work commitments.
1991 He retired from the salary scale, but he opted to keep teaching, seeing it as the vehicle for his Jesuit life.
Note from Séamus Doris Entry
He was good friends with Harry Naylor, Joe Mallin and Dan Fitzpatrick.
◆ The Mungret Annual, 1966
Father Harry Naylor SJ
Fr Harry Naylor SJ was ordained by the Bishop of Hong Kong in the chapel of Wah Yan, Kowloon, on 15th May, 1965. He said his first Mass in the chapel of the Hong Kong College.
Fr Naylor was born in Damascus in 1931, of a Greek mother and an Irish father, He finished his secondary education in Dublin, to which his family returned after the war. He then studied medicine, but after two years entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1951. He did a science degree in University College, Dublin, and after a year's teaching in Mungret went to Hong Kong in 1960.
Greetings and all best wishes to Fr Harry from his friends at Mungret.