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Carroll, John, 1911-1957, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/87
  • Person
  • 02 April 1911-20 January 1957

Born: 02 April 1911, Walsh Island, Geashill, County Offaly
Entered: 03 September 1930, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 06 January 1945, Sydney, Australia
Final Vows: 02 February 1948, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong
Died: 20 January 1957, Mater Hospital, Vulture Street, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Part of the Manresa, Toowong, Brisbane, Australia and Wah Yan, Hong Kong communities at the time of death

Older brother of Denis Carroll - RIP 1992

Parents were farmers.

Fifth of seven brothers and he has seven sisters.

Early Education at local National School and then at St Joseph’s College, Clondalkin and the Apostolic School at Mungret College SJ.

Studied at UCD

by 1939 at Loyola Hong Kong - studying

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280 :
He was one of twelve children, eight of whom entered Religion, and a brother of his Denis also became a Jesuit and worked in Zambia (RIP 1992).
His early education was at Mungret College, and he was one of 32 Novices who entered St Mary’s, Emo in 1930.
1932-1935 After First Vows he went to Rathfarnham Castle Dublin, and studied at University College Dublin, where he graduated BA in English and History.
1935-1938 He was sent to St Stanislaus College Tullabeg for Philosophy
1938-1941 He was went for Regency to Hong Kong, including language school at Cheung Chau and teaching at Wah Yan College Hong Kong. he found the Cantonese dialect very difficult, and yet while there he also edited the Wah Yan College Annual “The Star”.
1941-1945 As it was impossible to return to Europe for Theology, he and three other Scholastics were sent to Australia for these studies. he enjoyed his time there and the Australian Jesuits found him pleasant company. While waiting for Theology to began he taught for a bit at St Ignatius College Riverview.
1946-1947 He went to Ireland and Rathfarnham Castle to make Tertianship
1947-1956 He returned to Hong Kong and Wah Yan, where he was assistant Prefect of Studies, and went back to editing “The Star”. he was appointed Vice-Rector in 1951, and Rector a year later in 1952, and was also prefect of Studies. He managed all these tasks very efficiently, even though he was never of robust health. One of his achievements also was the planning of the new Wah Yan College, on Queen’s Road East. By 1955 he was no longer capable of heavy work, and in 1956 underwent a serious operation for intestinal cancer, he suffered many months of pain after this, and he bore it with great fortitude.
1956 By June of this year he had recovered sufficiently to fly to Brisbane for a period of convalescence. By November his condition had worsened, and he required another operation, but died in January 1957

His death at the Mater Hospital Brisbane at an early age, deprived the Hong Kong Mission of a most esteemed and valuable member. He had a deep interest in educational matters, and his thorough understanding of the Hong Kong educational system had established him as a very well informed representative and spokesman of Catholic Schools in Hong Long and their dealings with the government there.

He was a tall man, with a stately and almost stiff bearing and a habitual serious expression. He was a spiritual man and an observant religious, good at English literature and the craft of elaborate lettering of manuscripts, and the poignant epigram. He was meticulous, some would say excessive in the preparation of his classes. he was a hard worker and efficient administrator, strict on himself and a stern judge of those who did not measure up to his own high standards. At time he could appear to be stiff and unbending, but he had a good sense of humour and was able to laugh at himself. Towards his students he was uniformly kind though reserved, and this, combined with his unceasing devotion to duty, made them esteem him highly.

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Death of Fr. John Carroll, S.J.
Former Rector of Wah Yan College

News has been received of the death of Rev. John Carroll, S.J., who was Rector of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, from 1951-1956. It took place in Brisbane, Australia, where he had gone for convalescence after a serious operation at the beginning of last year.

Fr. Carroll, who was forty-six years of age, was born in Leix, in Ireland. He was educated at Mungret College, Limerick, and entered the Society of Jesus in 1930. he continued his studies in the National University of Ireland, where he took the B.A. degree and Higher Diploma of Education.

He came to Hong Kong in 1938, and after two years of Chinese studies was assigned to Wah Yan College, where he taught literature and history and was editor of the college magazine “The Star.” He then went to Australia to study theology, and was ordained by Archbishop (now Cardinal) Gilroy in 1945. At the close of the war he went to Europe and then returned to Hong Kong in 1947.

All the succeeding years were spent in Wah Yan College. After a period of teaching he was appointed Prefect of Studies in 1949, and then Rector. He supervised the building of the new college in Queen’s Road, East, and presided at its inauguration in September, 1955. A few months later his health broke down and he bore a long illness with great fortitude.

Fr. Carroll’s death is a considerable loss to education in Hong Kong. He had conspicuous literary and artistic ability, but the interests of his later years were wholly directed to education. He kept himself well informed on educational developments in many countries and his only regret at his loss of health was that he was unable to put into practice the many plans that he had in mind for the development of the school. He was a member of the Grant Schools Council and of the Board of Control of the Hong Kong School Certificate Examination Syndicate. He was also a member of the Court of the Hong Kong University.
Sunday Examiner, Hong Kong - 25 January 1957

Requiem Mass for Former Wah Yan College Rector

Large Numbers of priests, religious and lay people including some eight hundred pupils and Old Boys of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, attended the Solemn Requiem Mass last Wednesday at St. Margaret’s Church, Happy Valley, for the repose of the soul of Father John Carroll, S.J., former Rector of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong.

His Lordship Bishop Lawrence Bianchi presided at the Mass and gave the Absolution. The present rector of Wah Yan College, Father Cyril Barrett, S.J., was the celebrant. He was assisted by Father Charles Daly, S.J., and Father Kevin O’Dwyer, S.J.

Father Carroll who died on January 20 in Brisbane, Australia, was Rector of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, from 1951 to 1956 when he went to Brisbane for convalescence after a serious operation earlier that year. He was 46 years of age and was born in Leix, Ireland, Educated at Mungret College, Limerick, he entered the Society of Jesus in 1930.
Sunday Examiner, Hong Kong - 1 February 1957

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
He came from a large family in Geashill, Walsh Island, County Offaly, 8 of whom entered religious life.
His early education was at Mungret Cllege SJ before he joined the Society of Jesus in 1930.

1938 He was sent to Hong Kong
1941 he was sent to Canisius College Pymble Australia during the war for Theology, and was Ordained there in 1945.
1946 He returned to Ireland to make Tertianship

By September 1955 his dream of the construction of the new Wah Yan College was completed. His health was poor and so he died in 1957.
He was the “architect” on the Wah Yan College, Queen’s Road East campus, Prefect of Studies and then Rector of Wah Yan Hong Kong. Schoolwork was his life, and he gave his classes not mere instruction, but affection and respect. he prepared his classes with as much care as if he had to face a group of post-graduate university students. Although ruthless on himself, it pained him to be hard on students.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 21st Year No 1 1946

Frs. John Carroll, Kevin O'Dwyer and Cyril Peyton, of the Hong Kong Mission, who completed their theology at Pymble recently, left, Sydney on December 9th on the Aquitania for England via the Cape. They hope to be home by the end of January. They are accompanied by Fr. Vincent Conway, an old Mungret boy, member of the Vice Province. All four will make their tertianship in Rathfarnham next autumn.

Fr. John Carroll, on the Aquitania, 13-12-45 :
“We left Sydney on time, at 8 am, on Monday 10th, and expect to be in England by the middle of January. Rumour says Southampton about January 12th. We are travelling as a military transport with some 200 civilian passengers. The total number of persons is said to be 4,700. It is therefore far from being a pleasure cruise, but the food is good and the ship so far is riding beautifully. There is a nice altar specially reserved for Catholics in a curtained recess in the library, and we have the place to ourselves from 6.45 to 7.45. The official chaplain, Church of England, claims the half hour from 8 to 8.30. There are two other priests on board, one of them Fr. Frank Bouchier who was at Mungret with me”.

Irish Province News 32nd Year No 2 1957
Obituary :
Fr John Carroll (1911-1957)
The death of Fr, John Carroll in the Mater Hospital, Brisbane, Australia on the 20th. January last, at the early age of 46, deprived the Hong Kong Mission of one of its most esteemed and valuable members. For Fr. Carroll by his deep interest in educational matters, and his thorough understanding of the Hong Kong educational system, had established himself as the best informed representative and spokesman of the Catholic schools in Hong Kong in all their dealings with the Government. The numerous messages of sympathy which the Superior of Missions (Fr. Harris) received after his death from the principals of the Catholic schools bore eloquent testimony to how deeply they appreciated his advice and assistance, and regretted his untimely death.
Fr. John Carroll was born on the 2nd April, 1911 in Walsh Island, Geashill, Offaly. He was one of twelve children, eight of whom entered religion. He was educated at Mungret College, Limerick, from which he entered the Society on the 3rd September, 1930, being one of the thirty-two first-year novices who began their life in the Society in Emo Park the year that house was established as the Novitiate. In September, 1932, Fr. Carroll went to Rathfarnham Castle for his Juniorate studies, and in 1935 obtained his B.A. degree in English and History. During the following three years, he studied Philosophy in Tullabeg, and in 1938 was assigned to the Hong Kong Mission, where he arrived in the autumn of that year, and proceeded to the Language school, Loyola, Taai Lam Chung, For two years he applied himself most diligently and conscientiously to the study of the language, but in his case, it was very much like watering the dry stick. He had no special gift for languages, especially for Cantonese, and it was with no little relief that in 1940 he passed on to Wah Yan College, then situated in Robinson Road. It was soon clear that teaching and college work generally, were his true vocation in the Society, and though he spent only one year as a scholastic at this work, he proved an excellent teacher from the very beginning. Another task with which he was entrusted that year, and which he found most congenial as it gave scope for his artistic gifts was the production of the College annual, The Star. As it was impossible in July, 1941 to return to Ireland for Theology owing to the war, Fr. Carroll went with three other scholastics to the theologate of the Australian Vice-Province (as it was then) at Pymble, Sydney. His four years there were very happy ones. In later years, he often spoke of them with lively pleasure. His stay in Australia left him with pleasant memories not only of the great kindness which he received from his Australian brethren of the Society, but also of the reunion with many of his brothers and sisters who were already living there. As the scholastic year in Australia does not begin until February, Fr. Carroll spent several months before he began Theology teaching in St. Ignatius College, Riverview. He was ordained priest on 6th January, 1945, an appropriate date for a member of such a large missionary family.
In 1946 he went to Ireland for Tertianship at Rathfarnham Castle, and the following year, 1947, he returned by plane to Hong Kong and by September, he was back at his teaching post in Wah Yan College, Hong Kong. In rapid succession, he was appointed Assistant Prefect of Studies, Prefect of Studies, Vice-Rector, and finally Rector of the school in 1952. All these tasks he carried out capably and efficiently, in spite of health which was never very robust. His great achievement during his term as Rector, was the planning and building of the new Wah Yan College on Queen's Road East. When that great task was completed, in September, 1955, and Fr. Carroll had the happiness of seeing his dream become a reality, his term of life was drawing to a close, though it was not fully realised then, In the final months of 1955, he was not capable of any heavy work, and in January, 1956 underwent a grave operation for cancer of the intestines. Many months of pain, discomfort, and suffering followed, which he bore with great serenity and fortitude. By June, 1956, he had recovered sufficiently to be able to travel by plane to Brisbane, Australia for convalescence. He was most hospitably welcomed there by the Jesuit community, and it was hoped that during his stay with them, he could help in the parish work. However he grew worse in November, and had to enter the Mater Hospital, where his sister is a nun. Another operation in December brought no relief and after several weeks of intense suffering, he died on 20th January, 1957, a fortnight after the twelfth anniversary of his ordination.
Fr. Carroll was a deeply spiritual man, and a most observant religious, His onerous duties as Prefect of Studies, or Rector of Wah Yan College were never permitted to make any inroads on the time assigned to spiritual duties which he performed most faithfully. He had a very deep love of the Society, and consequently was visibly hurt whenever a word or action on the part of another fell short of the ideals which he felt every Jesuit should live up to. As a Rector he insisted on a high standard of observance, and this taken together with his natural shyness, made him appear stiff and unbending. He had, however, a highly developed sense of humour, and was always ready to laugh at himself. Towards the boys he was uniformly kind though reserved, and it was these qualities, coupled with his unceasing devotion to duty which made them esteem him so highly. It was when he became seriously ill, that the extent of that esteem appeared most, and his death was mourned by both past and present students as that of a true friend. In St. Margaret's Church, within sight of the beautiful school for which he laboured so much and in the presence of the Bishop and a large number of the clergy of the city, and nearly a thousand of our boys, Catholic and pagan, a Solemn Requiem Mass was offered for his soul.
To his brother, Fr. Denis Carroll, Rector of Chikuni College, we offer deepest sympathy. May Fr. John rest in peace.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father John Carroll SJ 1911-1957
Fr John Carroll was one of twelve children, eight of whom entered religion. Born at Geashill in 1911, he was educated at Mungret whence he entered the Society in 1930.

To his great delight, he was assigned to our Chinese Mission in 1938. Owing to the outbreak of the World War, he did his Theology in Australia, and often referred to these years as the happiest of his life. After his tertianship he was appointed Rector of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, in 1852. During his term of office the new Wah Yan on Queen’s Road was built.

In January 1956 he was operated on for cancer, and he went back to Australia to recuperate. However, his health further deteriorated and he died on January 20th 1957.

Fr John was a deeply religious man, one of those Jesuits of whom you could say that he never lost the fervour of the noviceship. He never allowed pressure of business or occupation to interfere with his observance of his religious duties. To the casual observer he would have appeared somewhat rigid and austere, but that was because being of a very high ideal himself, he expected th same of others. Nevertheless, like a true religious man, he could, when necessary, make allowances, and his sense of humour and his contribution to community recreation betrayed and understanding as well as an exacting spirit.

◆ Mungret Annual, 1957


Father John Carroll SJ

THE death took place in Brisbane Australia on January 20th last of Fr John Carroll. He was born on April 2nd 1911 at Walsh Island Geashill, Offaly, and came to Mungret in 1927. From here he entered the Society of Jesus in 1930. He did his studies at Rathfarnham and Tullabeg, and in 1938 was assigned to the Hong Kong mission where he arrived the folowing Autumn. He studied the language for two years and then went on to Wah Yan College where he found the work more congenial. Here he was editor of the College Annual “The Star”. In 1941 as it was impossible to return to Ireland he went to Australia for Theology where he was ordained in 1945. In 1946 he came to Ireland for Tertianship, and the following year returned to Wah Yan College.

Here in rapid succession he became Prefect of Studies, Vice-Rector, and finally Rector in 1952. His great achievement during his rectorship was the planning and building of the new Wah Yan College at Queens Rd East. Fr John was, however, now a very sick man, and in 1956 underwent an operation for cancer of the intestines. By June 1956 he had recovered sufficiently to go to Australia to recuperate, Here however, he grew progressively worse. Another operation brought no relief, and after weeks of intense suffering died on January 20th.

Fr Carroll was a deeply spiritual man and a most observant religious. He had however, a highly developed sense of humour. Towards boys he was uniformly kind though reserved, and it was these qualities together with a great devotion to duty which made them esteem him so much. His death was mourned by both present and past students as that of a true friend. To his family and to his brother Fr. Denis we offer our deep sympathy. RIP

Corbally, Matthew Charles, 1911-1989, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/486
  • Person
  • 08 November 1911-25 January 1989

Born: 08 November 1911, Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London, England
Entered: 14 September 1931, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 19 May 1945, Zi-Ka-Wei, Shanghai, China
Final Vows: 02 February 1948, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong
Died: 25 January 1989, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong - Macau-Hong Kong Province (MAC-HK)

Father was a landowner in County Dublin. Family resided at Rathbeale Hall, Swords, County Dublin.

Eldest of family with one brother and three sisters.

Early education at Dominican Convent Cabra for a year and the Dominican Convent Wicklow (1920-1923) He then went to Clongowes Wood College SJ for two years (1923-1925, and then to Stonyhurst College for five years (1925-1930).

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December by 1940 in Hong Kong - Regency

by 1943 at Bellarmine, Zi-ka-Wei, near Shanghai, China (FRA) studying1966

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Death of Father Corbally S.J.

Father Matthew Corbally, SJ, of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, died suddenly on Wednesday, 25 January 1989, aged 77. He was in full vigour until late in the proceeding week. Then for a few days he complained of loss of all energy. In the morning of 25 January, he collapsed suddenly and never recovered full consciousness.

The news of his death came as a severe shock to the many people who had met him recently, full of life and energy. Some who had known him less well asked it he was the very tall man who smiled so readily. The answer was Yes. Father Corbally was a very tall man - six feet four - but his friendly smile was even more characteristic than his great height.

Though an Irishman, he was born in London, on 8 November 1911. After schooling in Clongowes, Ireland, and Stonyhurst, England, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1931. From the beginning of his Jesuit life he was outstanding as a man of deep charity: he enjoyed being kind. This characteristic he retrained to the end.

He came to Hong Kong as a scholastic in 1939 and, after two years spent studying Cantonese, he joined the staff of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong. Very soon, war interrupted education. Like his fellow Jesuits he took a vigorous part in the work of civil aid during the siege of Hong Kong, working tirelessly and fearlessly. At least one Hong Kong it owed his survival to prompt help from Father (then Mr.) Corbally.

He did his theological studies in Shanghai and was ordained priest there in 1945. In 1946 he went to Ireland for the completion of his Jesuit training and for a last meeting with his dearly loved mother.

He returned to Hong Kong in 1947 and spent the rest of his life in Wah Yan College, Hong Kong (1947-63 and 1966-89) and Wah Yan College, Kowloon (1963-66), as teacher and usually also sports master. From 1969 to 1974 he was Rector of the Jesuit community of Wah Yan, Hong Kong. For most of the other years he held the post of Minister (housekeeper), a post giving full scope to his unfailing charity. In particular it fell to his lot to welcome visitors. They were made very welcome indeed. He threw himself into the work of the school with enthusiasm, retaining his interest in the students and their sports to the end of his life.

Cardinal John B. Wu led the concelebration of the Mass of the Resurrection in St. Margaret’s Church on Monday, 30 January. Father Corbally was buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Happy Valley.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 3 February 1989

Note from Timothy Doody Entry
In the noviceship he had as a contemporary Father Matthew Corbally, who was to die, also as member of the Wah Yan community, on 25 January this year. Father Doody and Corbally lived in the same houses through most of their 57 years as Jesuits, and only five weeks separated their deaths.

Note from John B Wood Entry
Father Wood began his theological studies in 1942 in Zikawei, Shanghai. He was ordained on 19 May 1945 with Fathers Timothy Doody, Matthew Corbally and Joseph McAsey, all of when spent most of their working lives in Hong Kong.

◆ 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 the eldest son of an Irish Catholic family and received his education at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire England, and Clongowes Wood College in Ireland.

He joined the Society of Jesus in 1931 and then went to UCD where he studied French, Latin and Greek. After this he went to St Stanislaus College Tullabeg for three years of Philosophy.
By 1939 he was sent to Hong Kong for Regency and studied Cantonese under Fr Charles Daly (who authored a Dictionary of Cantonese Chinese).
Because of the war he was sent to Shanghai for Theology along with Tim Doody, Joe McAsey and John Wood.
Then he returned to work at Wah Yan College Hong Kong and Kowloon.
His keen interest was in sports and he was Sports Master at Wah Yan College Hong Kong.

Note from Tim Doody Entry
1941-1946 Due to WWII he was sent to Zikawai, Shanghai for Theology with Mattie Corbally, Joe McAsey and John Wood until 1946, and in 1945 they were Ordained by Bishop Cote SJ, a Canadian born Bishop of Suchow.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 21st Year No 4 1946
Milltown Park :
Fr. P. Joy, Superior of the Hong Kong Mission, gave us a very inspiring lecture entitled: "The Building of a Mission,” in which he treated of the growth, progress and future prospects of our efforts in South China.
In connection with the Mission we were very glad to welcome home Frs. McAsey, Wood and Corbally, who stayed here for some time before going to tertianship.

◆ The Clongownian, 1989
Father Matthew Charles Corbally SJ
Matthew Charles Corbally was born in London, England, of Irish parents on 8th November, 1911. He was baptised at the Brompton Oratory, London, on November 13 of the same year. He did one year of primary schooling in Cabra, Dublin, and three years in Wicklow,

For his secondary education he spent two years in Clongowes Wood College, Co Kildare, and five years at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, England.

On 14th September, 1931, he entered the Society and studied at University College Dublin (NUI) from 1933 to 1936, securing a BA in Latin, Greek and French. He then went to St Stanislaus College in Tullamore, Offaly, for his philosophy,

He arrived in Hong Kong on 2nd October, 1939, and for the first years studied Cantonese at Tai Lam Chung in the New Territories. From September to December 1941 he was Sub-prefect of Studies and Discipline at Wah Yah College, Hong Kong.

When the Pacific war broke out on 7th December, 1941, he took part with his fellow Jesuits in relief and refugee work, often under very dangerous conditions. In August 1942, he went to Shanghai (together with Tim Doody, Joe McAsey and John Wood) to study theology. It was there he was ordained priest on Pentecost Sunday 1945.

After tertianship in Ireland from 1946 to 1947, he returned to Hong Kong as minister and teacher at Wah Yah College in Robinson Road. In 1948, he became chaplain to the British Navy. He was minister in Wah Yah College, Hong Kong from 1947 to 1950 and in Wah Yan College Kowloon from 1963 to 1966.

He was Rector of Wah Yan Hong Kong from 1968 to 1974. At the time of his death, he had been a capable and popular minister in Wah Yan College, Hong Kong for several years.

May he rest in peace.

Cryan, Martin, 1924-1978, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/124
  • Person
  • 02 March 1924-16 December 1978

Born: 02 March 1924, Tubercurry, County Sligo/Galway City, County Galway
Entered: 06 September 1941, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 28 July 1955, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1959, Wah Yan College, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Died: 16 December 1978, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong - Hong Kongensis Province (HK)

Transcribed : HIB to HK 03/12/1966

by 1951 at Hong Kong - Regency

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Father Martin Cryan, S.J.

Father Martin Cryan, SJ, of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, died suddenly at Wah Yan on 16 December 1978, aged 54. The Hong Kong Jesuits have lost an inspiring and original thinker, a teacher of force and lucidity, a dedicated priest and a very good companion.

An outline of his life suggests placid academic devotion - Birth in Tubercurry, Co. Sligo, Ireland, in 1924: education at St. Ignatius’s Galway: Jesuit novitiate, 1941: Hong Kong, 1949-52, for study of Chinese and teaching in the Wah Yan Hong Kong afternoon school: Ireland, 1952-57, for theology and ordination: 1957, Hong Kong, teaching first in Wah Yan, Kowloon, and then in Wah Yan, Hong Kong, broken only by a year of special study of biology in the Ateneo. Manila, after which he concentrated chiefly on teaching biology.

Placidity was, however, the last thing his friends associated with Father Cryan. His life was one long adventure. He seized on every idea that caught his interest, Squeezed all that he could from it, and then thrust eagerly forward to put the idea into practice, without regard to hampering conventions. This made him an agreeably unpredictable companion. His last passion was for astronomy. Again and again he passed his nights in a sleeping-bag on a hillside so that he might see his well-loved stars at their brightest.

He will be much and lastingly missed.

He was buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Happy Valley, on 18 December, after Mass at St. Margaret’s. The Bishop led the concelebrating and officiated at the graveside.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 22 December 1978

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
His early education was at Coláiste Iognáid in Galway.

After his Novitiate he studied at UCD, graduating with a BA in History, he then went on to study Philosophy at St Stanislaus College Tullabeg, and later Theology at Milltown Park.

He taught Biology at Wah Yan Colleges in Hong Kong and Kowloon, even though History and Theology were his interests.

he was interested in broad educational matters and was a founding member of the Educators’ Social Action Council (ESAC). In fact, at the time of his death, he was helping to compile a handbook for ESAC on Counselling Services in Hong Kong.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 56th Year No 3 1981


Fr Martin Cryan (1924-1941-1978)

Mairt Cryan died suddenly at 6 pm on Saturday, 16th December 1978. He was in his room getting ready to concelebrate Mass with Donal Lawler, when he called Derek Reid and Dick McCarthy to tell them he was not feeling well. They contacted Ruttonjee hospital, run by the Columban sisters, but Mairt was dead by the time help arrived. He had never been to hospital, and had very rarely visited a doctor. True, he had seen Sr Aquinas only a week or so earlier about his hypertension.
He was considered one of the strongest and most robust of the “younger” men of the province. In recent years particularly, he took long walks at the weekends and in the early mornings, and not infrequently camped out on his own overnight. On his last home vacation in 1977, he camped out for a few weeks on the island of Crete, and walked, cycled and camped over much of his native West of Ireland. However, he did have some inkling of his high blood pressure, and privately often expressed a desire to die while still in fuil possession of his faculties, quickly and without troubling anyone, and relatively young.
Born at Tubbercurry, co. Sligo, he later moved with his family to Galway, where he studied at St Ignatius College. After joining the Society at Emo in 1941, he took a good degree in history at UCD before his philosophy at Tullabeg. In 1949 he went to Hongkong, and after studying Cantonese taught in the after- noon school at Wah Yan, Robinson road. Returning to Ireland for theology, he was ordained in Milltown Park in 1955. After tertianship he returned in 1957 to Hongkong and spent the rest of his life in the classrooms. The subject of his special study was biology, and for this he went for a year to the Ateneo, Manila, in the 1960s.
He gave enormous energy and devotion to his classroom teaching, demanding high standards and a strict discipline of his students, coupled with a real concern for their full development and warm encouragement for their growing interests whether in biology or in other school or “life” subjects. (V-PL) He had some unorthodox teaching methods. He was one of the first to research and introduce scientific multiple-choice testing methods in his own subject. Educational matters held a deep interest for him. He was a founder member and active contributor in the Educators' Social Action Council. He saw himself as a Jesuit priest educator. His colleagues did not always find him the easiest of men to deal with - he was sometimes exasperating in his ways - but they always nonetheless regarded him with esteem and affection.
Theology and history remained two of Mairt's particular interests, though he was well-read in many fields. He was a simple, humble, modest and private person, behind the external excitableness and occasional bluster: at heart, a very kind and gentle man. One of his community wrote about him for the daily press. The following is an excerpt from the appreciation:
“He had the command ing personality, tinged with agreeable eccentricity, that makes a schoolmaster vibrate in the memory of those he taught. He was interested in many things and pursued his interests with what may be described as intellectual and practical ferocity”.
An engaging eccentric, whose eccentricity was rarely difficult for others, he could be oblivious to the consequences of his noisy habits. He invariably saw things from an original angle, but always with absolute honesty. He was a shy man who liked people. He was first a priest and religious, next a teacher, and when he had fulfilled his obligations to these métiers, he had time to think over the problems of the world around him: he was extremely concerned about others, His witness to poverty was very clear, as anything he had was always old, well worn and practical. He was an excellent teacher, going to great pains to prepare his classes, and he had the art of being able to explain the most complicated matters with great clarity and force.
Harold Naylor

Doody, Timothy Francis, 1913-1989, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/653
  • Person
  • 26 December 1913-02 March 1989

Born: 26 December 1913, Castle Street, Dundalk, County Louth
Entered: 07 September 1931, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 19 May 1945, Zi-Ka-Wei, Shanghai, China
Final Vows: 02 February 1948, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong
Died: 02 March 1989, Queen Mary Hospital, Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong - Macau-Hong Kong Province (MAC-HK)

Part of the Wah Yan College, Hong Kong community at the time of death

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966

Father is an Excise Officer, and the family then lived at Ranelagh Road, Ranelagh, Dublin.

Fourth of six boys (one deceased in infancy) with two sisters.

Early education was at a local Convent school and with the Christian Brothers in Dundalk, then his father was transferred to Dublin. He then went to Synge Street for ten years (1921-1931).

Expressed a desire in the Noviceship to be on the Hong Kong Mission.

by 1940 in Hong Kong - Regency
by 1943 at Bellarmine, Zi-ka-Wei, near Shanghai, China (FRA) studying

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Death of Father Doody, S.J.

Father Timothy Francis Doody, SJ, of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, died in Queen Mary Hospital on Thursday, 2 March 1989, after a short final illness, aged 75.

Father Doody was born on 26 December 1913, in Dundalk, Ireland. He received his schooling from the Irish Christian Brothers in Synge Street, Dublin, and joined the Jesuits in 1931. In the noviceship he had as a contemporary Father M. Corbally, who was to die, also as member of the Wah Yan community, on 25 January this year. Father Doody and Corbally lived in the same houses through most of their 57 years as Jesuits, and only five weeks separated their deaths.

Father Doody (then Mr. Doody), having passed through eight years of placidly laborious Jesuit formation, came to Hong Kong in 1939. After two years of malaria-troubled language study, he joined the staff of Wah Yan College in the autumn of 1941. In December of that year, war came to Hong Kong. Placidity was at an end, and amid the labours and perils of the siege, the young Mr. Doody manifested the gifts that were to characterise his apostolate to the end of his life.

He was appointed a Billeting Officer. Soon, as the late Father T.F. Ryan put it in his Jesuits under Fire, “Mr. Doody was proving to be a “religious dowser” of exceptional ability; he had a faculty for discovering Catholics in the most unlikely places and he rarely returned from one of the billeting trips without having a new address for a priest to visit.”

Another passage in this book also describes Mr. Doody busy amid shelling and bombing. During a lull in his billeting work he found a new apostolate. Two priests were sheltered in the M.E.P. Procure on Battery Path. Mr. Doody took up his position outside the Procure and boldly enquired of all who passed if they were Catholics, and, if they were, did they wish to go to confession. The results were almost startling. The most unexpected persons turned out to be Catholics, from bright young things to old China hands, and after the first start of surprise at the question in the open street in staid, pleasure-loving Hong Kong, they generally took the turn indicated by Mr. Doody and found Father Grogan of Father Fitzgerald of Father O’Brien ready to meet them inside.

These far-off memories show the young Mr. Doody as already possessed of a “nose” for apostolic and pastoral opportunities and of complete lack of shyness or diffidence in pastoral and apostolic work. These gifts, along with a deep personal interest in the people he was working for, were to characterise his priestly work to the end of his life.

He went to Shanghai in 1942 for his theological studies and was ordained priest there in 1945. After a year in Ireland for the completion of his Jesuit formation, he returned to Hong Kong in 1947. From then till 1964 he was almost continuously on the staff of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, but he became ever more deeply involved in direct apostolate of individuals, and this remained his all-absorbing interest until the end of his life.

In the late 1950s he was assigned for a time to Singapore to help in building St. Ignatius’ Church there. In what may be described as typically Doodyish fashion, he integrated donation-giving into the devotional life of the parish. This strengthened parish life; moreover it was so effective materially that the church was paid for before construction ceased - perhaps a unique achievement.

From 1964 onward he devoted himself to his individual apostolate in his individual way. He instructed his converts with great care and maintained close personal contact with them ever afterwards, taking a deep interest in their activities, their happiness, their families and all that concerned them. He took no part in organized activities, yet few priests had more numerous or more devoted friends.

In recent years he suffered several light strokes and a light heart attack, and took them all lightly. On Tuesday, 28 February, he collapsed when celebrating Mass. He was conscious, though unable to speak, when receiving the Sacrament of the Sick. He then lapsed into a coma, and died on 2 March without recovering consciousness. He will be much missed by many.

Cardinal John B. Wu led the concelebration of the Mass of the Resurrection in St. Margaret’s Church, Happy Valley, on Monday, 6 March. Archbishop D. Tang, SJ, officiated at the graveside in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Happy Valley
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 10 March 1989

Note from John B Wood Entry
Father Wood began his theological studies in 1942 in Zikawei, Shanghai. He was ordained on 19 May 1945 with Fathers Timothy Doody, Matthew Corbally and Joseph McAsey, all of when spent most of their working lives in Hong Kong.

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
His early education was at Mercy Convent Dundalk, and then at CBS Synge Street before he Entered the Society at Emo.
After First Vows he was sent to Rathfarnham Castle studying at UCD and graduating with a BA in Latin, History and Irish.
1936-1939 he was sent to St Stanislaus College Tullabeg for Philosophy
1939-1941 He was sent for Regency to Hong Kong.
1941-1946 Due to WWII he was sent to Zikawai, Shanghai for Theology with Mattie Corbally, Joe McAsey and John Wood until 1946, and in 1945 they were Ordained by Bishop Cote SJ, a Canadian born Bishop of Suchow.
1946-1947 He returned to Ireland to make Tertianship at Rathfarnham Castle.
1948 He returned to Hong Kong, making Final Vows at Wah Yan College Hong Kong
1948-1958 He was a teacher at Wah Yan College Hong Kong
1958-1960 He was sent to Singapore to help collect funds for a Jesuit Church there and was highly successful.
1960 He was then back in Hong Kong raising funds for what became the Adam Schall Hostel at United College, of The Chinese University of Hong Kong
1964 He began running classes for adult catechumens and he became the first and only Director of the “Catholic Information Service SJ”. is classes saw a continual flow of people coming for instruction in the Catholic faith.
He also regularly gave Retreats up to 1973, and the fruit of this experience resulted in a sizeable book on the Spiritual Exercises called “Iñigo” which he had published privately.

Note from Mattie Corbally Entry
Because of the war he was sent to Shanghai for Theology along with Tim Doody, Joe McAsey and John Wood.

Doyle, Francis, 1931-2011, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/771
  • Person
  • 04 October 1931-17 March 2011

Born: 04 October 1931, Dublin City, County Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1949, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 25 March 1963, Wah Yan College, Kowloon
Final Vows: 22 April 1977, St Francis Xavier, Kulala Lumpur, Malaysia
Died: 17 March 2011, Arrupe, Quezon City, Manila, Philippines - Sinensis Province (CHN)

Part of the Gonzaga College, Dublin community at the time of death.

Educated at Belvedere College SJ

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966; HK to CHN : 1992

by 1958 at Cheung Chau, Hong Kong - Regency studying language
by 1961 at Bellarmine , Baguio City Philippines (ExOr) studying

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Former editor dies

A former editor of the Sunday Examiner and the first Jesuit to be ordained a priest in Hong Kong, Father Frank Doyle, died in Manila, The Philippines, on 17 March 2011, after suffering a stroke on 6 February 2011. He was treated at the Medical City in Manila, but his condition continued to deteriorate.

He was farewelled from the Loyola House of Studies on the campus of Ateneo de Manila University on 23 March 2011, with Father Mark Raper as the main celebrant at his requiem Mass, and buried at the Jesuit novitiate in Quezon City.

Born in Ireland on 4 October 1931, he entered the Society of Jesus on 7 September 1949. His ordination at Wah Yan College Chapel in Kowloon on 25 March 1963 is described as being a big moment in the history of the Jesuits in Hong Kong, receiving headlines in the newspapers and on the radio news.

The newly ordained priest did interviews for the radio and historian, Father Thomas Morrissey, described it “a widespread manifestation of friendliness towards the Church and the society,” in his book, The Jesuits in Hong Kong, South China and Beyond.

He is described by Paul K. B. Chan, as “as a very friendly teacher and a good spiritual director.”

During his years in Hong Kong, Father Doyle was at the forefront of many activities and was particularly active in the push for direct elections from 1988 into the early 1990s. He addressed a forum of 10,000 people, along with the Democratic Party champion of the cause, Martin Lee Chu-ming, and on 21 May 1989 was present at a prayer meeting in St. Margaret’s Happy Valley at the end of a day when an estimated crowd of between 400,000 and one million people walked the streets of Hong Kong in support of the issue.

Father Doyle also worked in the Jesuit Centre of Spirituality at Cheung Chau, as well as among the students at Ricci Hall, and was among the first group to go from Hong Kong to the East Asia Pastoral Institute in Manila to study.

After an initial stint teaching at Wah Yan College, Father Doyle went to Singapore, where his career with newspapers began, working on the diocesan publication, Catholic News. He later became the founding director of the Pastoral Institute in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he stayed for the full 10 years allowed to a foreign resident by the government at that time.

Back in Hong Kong, he continued his writing at UCA News, before coming to the Sunday Examiner. He is remembered from his years at the editor’s desk (1991 to 1993) as an extremely good speaker of Cantonese, as well as a joyful and enthusiastic person.

“He would sing as he worked,” one of the staff said, “adding that he seemed to be able to do almost everything from writing articles to designing advertisements and doing the artwork himself.”

He is also remembered for giving a job to a hearing impaired woman. Staff who go back that far, say that he was patient and took time to teach her how to cut and paste to set out a page for the printers. They say that he continually encouraged her and, gradually her self-confidence grew and she began to speak more freely. Eventually, even, her hearing appeared to improve and in the end, she could talk quite fluently.

Father Ciaran Kane, from Xavier House in Cheung Chau, studied with him in high school in Ireland and they were again together in the Jesuit formation programme, coming to Hong Kong at about the same time.

Father Kane described his old friend as charming and a man who made friends easily, although in many ways he could be called a loner, as he liked to do his own thing in his own way. Father Kane said that something changed in him in later years. In describing him as dapper, he noted that in his later years he become really casual and even grew a beard.

“But he really loved writing,” Father Kane said, “and he was good at it. For many years after he went back to Ireland, he would return to Kuala Lumpur and do a month at the Catholic paper each year. He wrote many things.”

Father Doyle left Hong Kong when he finished at the Sunday Examiner and returned to Ireland where he worked in high school ministry and also retreat work.

Father Kane said, “He never forgot his Cantonese though and kept contact with Chinese people in Ireland and England, as well as in Vancouver and New York for many years.”

Father Doyle finished his days in Manila among the Jesuit scholastics as a spiritual adviser. He is also remembered as an author of prayers and reflections.

He once wrote, “Perhaps I haven’t seen things from this perspective, or have forgotten it, but it is the truth of my life: I am called by name, journeying along a unique path, God with me, God before me, all along the way that is mine.”

Tributes to him have poured in from every country in which he worked. May he rest in peace.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 3 April 2011

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013.

◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/frank-doyle/

Frank Doyle, an Irish Jesuit priest of the Chinese Province, died on Saint Patrick’s Day 2011. After some years working in Ireland, Frank had returned to Asia in 2010, undertaking
work as a spiritual director in Manila. For many years he wrote the Living Space commentaries – reflections on readings and saints – on the Sacred Space website. His requiem and burial took place in Saint Ignatius Oratory, Loyola House of Studies, Manila on 22 March. Messages sent on news of his illness and other more general comments indicate how meaningful his apostolate had become to so many whom he had helped in their search for the Lord. The text of the homily delivered at his funeral can be read at Living Space, courtesy of Mark Raper SJ, President of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific. The text of the homily (http://sacredspace.ie/livingspace/funeral-homily/)


Frank Doyle SJ (left in photo) recently exchanged the green and leafy delights of Gonzaga for the humid heats of Manila, where there has been no rain for a long time and it is extremely hot, exceeding 30C and going up to 36, with humidity to match. After years in Hong Kong, Frank served Chinese exiles in many parts of the world, including Dublin. His ease with groups of diverse languages and cultures will stand to him in his new job as spiritual director to Jesuit students from at least twelve different countries. On arrival he joined a team directing the spiritual exercises in an upcountry retreat house. He lives on the large (Belfield-size) campus of the Jesuit university, Ateneo de Manila, and is praying for some cool rain

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :

Note from Paddy Finneran Entry
Among his students were Ciarán Kane and Frank Doyle in Belvedere

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 145 : Summer 2011


Fr Frank Doyle (1932-2011) : China Province

Obituary by Myles O'Reilly
Who is Frank Doyle? He had so many lives within one life that no one seems to know the whole Frank. On top of that, he was quite a private person and very self-sufficient. No wonder the editor found it so hard to find someone to write his obituary and the lot falls to me, being his last Rector in Ireland. Outwardly Frank was an exemplary novice like monk who never wasted a minute of his time. He rose at six in the morning, faithfully meditated for an hour, had breakfast in silence on his own, dutifully sat at his desk dealing with emails, researching, reading and writing for his Sacred Space contributions, celebrated Mass once weekly in Gonzaga school, and for the rest of the week at 10 30 a.m. with the Cherryfield community, for whom he had great affection, continued his morning desk-work until lunch to which he went with a certain reluctance (Frank was strongly one-to-one in preference).

After a short friendly chat in the kitchen with Linda the cook, he went to his room for a siesta, continued his reading and writing but interlaced it with listening to the radio, listening to his favourite music, usually jazz, and getting some physical exercise. This brought him to a late supper where he was careful to eat a healthy diet. After this, he played the piano for half an hour, relaxed in the library, having a chat with Kennedy O'Brien, whenever he was there, and then went off to bed. He was usually cheerful, had a great hearty laugh, loved a joke, passed many a one by email to his friends (including blue!!). He wore simple clothes, always wore a ring as a sign of his commitment to Christ, and always kept his room simple and uncluttered.

Yet he was also deeply serious and reflective and could be easily drawn into a theological discussion, usually taking a liberal line but in a gentle, non-aggressive way. Despite being wedded to his routine, he was always ready to drop it at the request for some help of any nature. He was also generous with his time for directees or friends that came to visit him. On Sundays he joined the Dublin Chinese community for Eucharist, after which he would join his brother Philip and his family for lunch, where he was a great hit with his nephews and nieces, and their children, all of whom he baptized and with whom he would watch television (only time in the week he permitted himself such an indulgence!). . For some of his summer, Frank became a curate in an all-Chinese community in New York, In September he offered himself as chaplain to a group that went to Lourdes every year. Occasionally throughout the year he would give a preached retreat, usually to nuns in the Loreto retreat centre in Linsfort, Co Donegal. He also loved to stand in as chaplain in St Vincent's private hospital in Dublin when required. So far this is only a brief external description of Frank in his Gonzaga incarnation

From his outer conformity to routine, you could be forgiven for thinking that Frank could just as easily have been a Cistercian as a Jesuit, but when you read his retreat reflections from the early 90's you realize that nothing could be further from the truth. True to Ignatian spirituality, we are defined by what is our deep heart's core. Even the ancient spirituality of the Upanishads recognized this. “You are what your deepest driving desire is; as your desire is, so is your will, as your will is so is your deed” The following is how Frank expressed his deepest desire.

    “My deepest desire is
to work for the kingdom of God
in whatever place
and in whatever work
to which I believe God is calling me
In the spirit of the beatitudes
especially in companionship with Christ today
in the poor and the discriminated against
even if it means suffering and rejection
using only the weapons of compassion, justice and freedom”.

We can easily hear the call of Christ the King, and the “Two Standards” in this deepest desire. True to it, throughout his reflections in his diary and his retreat notes, Frank is always questioning himself as to whether he is in the right place or doing the right work in terms of promoting God's kingdom. Could he be more effectively employed elsewhere? Even though the Chinese left the deepest imprint in his heart, it did not stop him from wondering whether it would be best for the Hong Kong mission that he leave, as a more indigenous Church would be more acceptable to mainline China when they would take over Hong Kong in 1997. Ought not the Hong Kong Church stand on its own feet, and best evangelize its own people? A combination of external circumstances and internal discernment led Frank to switch his missionary life to Malaysia where he put down fruitful roots for 10 years, enhanced by his willingness to learn the Malay language. He was deeply impressed by the strength of the indigenous church there, which gave him the freedom to consider turning the last quarter of his life to the Western world. The first part of this was spent in Canada where he was confronted with the challenge of making a stand for the gay community on what he saw as a human rights issue. This led to his having to leave ministry there and come back to Ireland as chaplain to Gonzaga school, which he undertook for three years.

Inwardly Frank was always chiding himself for writing just for himself alone. He saw it as too self indulgent. “Did not Ghandhi write solely for the edification of people? And Jesus did not write at all!!” But somehow he knew his vocation was to write. He had been editor of the “Hong Kong Examiner” and he had ambitious writing goals to fulfil. He longed to write about the Eucharist, the Beatitudes, New Testament syllabi for Hong Kong schools, sermon notes, Discernment of Spirits, and the use of “eros”, “philia”, and “agape” in the New Testament.

Late in his life he got his opportunity, a chance to channel all his in-depth reflections over the years on these topics through “Sacred Space”, which had an outreach to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world. He was asked to provide reflections on the liturgical readings of each day in the year and on the lives of the saints. He thrived on this mission and even found time to write a book on “A New Sexual Ethic” in his spare time, that I hope the Jesuits will find in his computer in the Philippines. The quality of the responses that Frank got from all over the world from his readers, when they heard of his stroke, was amazing. Emails came flooding in from Italy, Canada, India, Scotland, Brazil, Norway, USA, England, Portugal, Philippines, Malta, Korea, Honk Kong, Malaysia, Australia, Ireland and Spain in their hundreds. I quote a few just to give the reader a flavour of the remarks.
“You communicate the message of Christ convincingly to contemporary culture”...
“You touch, inspire and challenge me, I relish the Jesuitness that oozes out from your deep integrated life” ...
“On many occasions, I felt like the disciples on the way to Emmaus having the scriptures opened to them”...
“You are like St Paul, Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” etc

When Frank was riding high apostolically at the age of 77, his deepest desire, the guiding principle of his life, did not leave him. It led him to agreeing to go back to Manila in the Philippines, to where he did his theology as a scholastic, as chaplain to 40 Chinese students. There was a feeling of St Paul leaving one of his missionary communities, never to return, as we said good bye to him on the steps of Gonzaga community two years ago, as he headed off to the East yet again to fittingly die among the people that struck the deepest chord in his heart, the Chinese on, of all days, St Patrick's Day!! St Francis Xavier will surely gladly be among the welcoming party for Frank, but might be a little envious that Frank got to work and live among the Chinese, spoke their language, and travelled his missionary 100,000 miles by plane and train!!! May he rest in peace.

◆ The Belvederian, Dublin, 1965

Sons of Xavier

Father Frank Doyle (1949). The only other who belongs to this part of the world and is within it is Father Frank Doyle, who is just now concluding his Tertianship and is due to return in the middle of May. He is to work with the “China News Analysis”, a weekly publication run by Jesuits which sifts the news published in China and is highly respected as an interpreter of current events and trends in Communist China.

◆ The Belvederian, Dublin, 1986

News of the Past

Frank Doyle SJ

Frank Doyle SJ (1949) was in Belvedere this summer: I spent seven years in Belvedere, from 1942 to 1949.

In that year, I entered the Society of Jesus with three other classmates, two of whom are still in the Society - Denis Flannery(Zambia) and Percy Winder (Clongowes). There followed two years as a novice in Emo, three years in Rathfarnham studying Classics at UCD. (then in Earlsfort Terrace), and three years of philosophy at St Stanislaus College in Tullabeg, near Tullamore.

In 1957, I went to Hong Kong. The first two years there were spent in our language school and the third year was spent teaching in a Jesuit secondary school, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong (not to be confused with Wah Yan College, Kowloon).

At the end of the third year, I returned to Ireland to begin theology at Milltown Park in Dublin. But after one year, I transferred to Bellarmine College at Baguio City in the Philippines. Studying here also gave me an opportunity to study Mandarin Chinese, the mostly widely spoken form of Chinese. (In Hong Kong I had learnt Cantonese which is spoken by “only 30 million” people.)

In 1963, I was ordained priest at the chapel of Wah Yan College Kowloon in Hong Kong - the first Jesuit to be ordained in Hong Kong.

After completing theology at Baguio in 1964, I went to Chabanel Hall in Manila for tertianship, my final year of formation, “Hall” was really a euphemism for a collection of galvanised metal huts which had in previous years served as a prisoner of war camp for both Americans and Japa nese during the Second World War.

In 1965, I returned to Hong Kong to start my career as a “formed” Jesuit. In the first year, I worked with Fr Ladany, a Hungarian Jesuit, on “China News Analysis”, a weekly newsletter which Fr Ladany single-handedly edited from 1953 to 1982. He has now retired and handed over to a younger generation.

In the following year, I was assigned back to Wah Yan College Hong Kong as “spiritual father” to the boys and minister to the Jesuit community.

In the summer of 1967, I was asked by the superior Fr Fergus Cronin if I would like to spend two months of the holidays in Singapore. I was delighted at the idea.

The day after I arrived in Singapore towards the end of July, I was put in the editor's chair of the local Catholic newspaper although I had no experience whatever of this kind of work. The two months became two years. In 1969 I parted company with the paper. The Archbishop of Singapore was not too happy with my freewheeling editorial policy.

Instead I was transferred to neighbouring Malaysia where I was to spend 10 years (so much for the two months in 1967). I only left after 10 years because the government's policy towards missionaries did not allow me to stay any longer.

My work in Malaysia was very varied. There are not many priests there and one finds oneself doing all kinds of things. So I found myself helping out in parishes at weekends, being chaplain to two universities (at the same time), helping out in a pastoral institute, editing a diocesan newsletter, giving retreats, seminars and talks, teaching religion in schools... In my final year (78-79) I was a parish priest. My time in Malaysia was a very enriching experience.

In 1979, I was back in Hong Kong. My first year back was spent relearning Cantonese, which had. grown rusty from lack of use over 12 years. There followed one year of teaching but since then I have been mostly engaged in editing work of one kind or another. In 1982 I began editing “Correspondence”, a newsletter whose intention was to keep Jesuits informed on what was happening to the Church in China. Also in that year, I began an association with UCAN (Union of Catholic Asian News). UCAN is a Catholic news agency which covers the East and Southeast Asian region. Each week it sends out a dispatch to subscribing newspapers. It has also been preparing a directory of Catholic dioceses in the region of which I was the editor. In more recent years, it began publishing a weekly newsletter of Church news in Asia. I was also involved with this.

On a more directly pastoral level, I have been helping out in a parish at weekends and been spir itual adviser to a Christian Life Community group in one of our schools. There have also been retreats and talks to various groups.

Hong Kong in many ways is an exciting place to be. The Pacific Basin is now probably the fastest growing area economically in the world today and Hong Kong is one of its hubs. The many changes taking place in China and it assumption of sove =reignity over Hong Kong in 1997 also present excit ing challenges. Not least to the Jesuits. I am very happy to be part of that.

◆ The Belvederian, Dublin, 1991


At Home in the World : Talking to Father Frank Doyle SJ

Frank Doyle SJ (1949) has spent most of his time since joining the Jesuits in the Far East and works in Hong Kong, now facing reunification with China in six years' time. On one of his occasional visits home, when he likes to stay in Belvedere, Conor Patten interviewed him for The Belvederian in October 1990.

When did you enter Belvedere?
I joined the Junior House in 1942 at the age of eleven and a year later went on to the Senior School, where I spent all six years of my secondary education.

What are your memories of the school?
Well, I can remember being very happy there, I enjoyed the school a lot. I was very involved with the Vincent de Paul Society - in those days there were terrible slums down in Parell Street and we would visit people there and bring them food tickets, which were worth about five shillings, sometimes ten. That's roughly twenty-five pence nowdays. It was really Sean O'Casey poverty - have you seen Juno and the Paycock? It was just like that. Whole families living in rooms. I was also very keen on the Camera Club. We had a Jesuit (Fr Scantlebury) in charge who was also editor of The Irish Messenger. He was very interested in archeology and every Saturday or Sunday we would head out for some archeological site in the country and photograph it, so combining the two interests. I can remember the bicycles that we used, it was always bicycles. In that way I visited most of the archeological sites in Dublin and the surrounding counties,

Do you think the school has changed since then?
Of course! It has changed a lot! Mostly for the better, I think. I haven't had much exposure to the classroom since I returned and I haven't been in contact with many of the students but I can see changes have taken place. The curriculum has certainly changed: everybody studied Latin up to the Leaving when I was in school and there was a straight choice between Science and Greek in Fifth Year. Society changes and the school changes with it.

Do you think that the Jesuits in Belvedere influenced your decision to become a Jesuit yourself?
Yes, I do. We had nine scholastics in the school during my final year and I got to know the Jesuits well. I think they did influence my decision.

Did you know any of the community back then who are still here today?
I knew quite a lot - Br Coigan [R.I.P.), Fr Reidy, Fr Schrenk, Fr McLaughlin and Fr MacSeumais.

How do you think Ireland as a society has changed in the years that you have been away?
Well, I think that there is a lot of wealth around now that was not there when I was at school. The greatest changes are economic, People seem to have more money, even students have more money. I remember receiving two and sixpence a week, which is about fifteen pence now. Looking back, those days seem a very austere time. Those who were considered the “comfortable middle class” would not be considered middle class today. There also seems to be a much greater split in society - the gap between rich and poor and the haves and have-nots seems to have grown.

Did you join the Jesuits straight after leaving school?
I graduated from Belvedere in 1949 and went straight to Emo Park where I spent two years, then I took my vows and then spent four years studying Classics in UCD, then came my three years of Philosophy.

Why did you volunteer for the missions?
I think that it was because I saw that nobody else from my year was going to apply, and I knew that there was a great need for people out there. They usually send at least one scholastic out every year and it seemed that no one else was interested in going. I think I also wanted to see other parts of the world, I wanted to travel.

How did you feel on arriving at Hong Kong?
It was very exciting - the day I arrived must have been the most exciting day of my life. I can remember being very impressed by Hong Kong, it seemed a very impressive place compared to Ireland's bare existence. For instance, we had a brand new Jesuit school which was very modern. I think I fell in love with Hong Kong. I wasn't homesick at all, as a matter of fact. I found leaving Hong Kong a lot harder than leaving Ireland.

What were your duties while you were there?
I spent two years learning the language, Cantonese Chinese. Although it is a British colony, the work of the Church is in Chinese, and in my third year there I taught in the two Jesuit schools - one on the mainland and the other on the island.

How did you find the students in Hong Kong compared to students in Ireland?
The Chinese are very future-orientated: from a very young age they are talking about their careers and what they want to become. There are always exceptions, just like there are anywhere, but discipline is not a major problem. There seemed to be a very good relationship between the pupils and staff. I found myself so much at home there I didn't want to leave at all!

Your next posting in the Far East brought you to the Philippines: what were your experiences there?
I spent my tertianship, which is a period of renewal before your Final Vows, in Manila. It was suggested that I go out there because I would be able to lean Mandarin Chinese in a theology house that was near the city. After the Communist take-over, there was a lot of pressure on the Jesuits to leave China, so they just moved the whole community from Shanghai to Manila. Of course, they never expected the Communist regime to last so long! After that I spent some time in a place out in the countryside which was called Chabanel Hall of, as it was sometimes called, Chabanel Hell! It was a former prison used by both the US and Japan during the forties and was just a collection of corrugated iron sheeting which, of course, became very, very hot during the day. The only window was a small mosquito-screen which we would leave open to try and cool the place a little.

Did you witness any of the events which led to the elction of Ferdinand Marcos?
Yes, they held the election just before I left in 1965. He was just like any other Filipino politician - presumed corrupt. But he seemed very capable, a very canny and shrewd politician, He was a qualified lawyer, and the most prestigious exams in the Philippines are Law exams that take place every year. To come in the top ten of your class marks you out as an exceptional man, Marcos came first. He was also known to have killed a man, but he defended himself and was acquitted.

I think he probably could have brought the country out of the problems it had, but he got caught up in the political system that exists in the Philippines. It's very feudalistic, the country is iun by the powerful families. Things haven't really changed, even under Aquino. If you can remember back to the revolution when they stormed the palace, there was a lot of talk about “People Power”. “People Power” is a myth! Mrs Aquino is finding it hard to cope with these powerful families, just like he did.

Where did you go after your Final Vows?
I returned to Hong Kong where I expected to spend a lot of time, but things were not to work out as I had expected, I began working with a priest who was a well known expert on China, There is only one paper allowed out of China and that's The People's Daily. Of course, it's just a mouthpiece of the Communist Govertiment, full of propaganda, but by carefully reading between the lines this priest could see some of the power struggles that were taking place in the party. It didn't really work out too well though: he was the sort of man who could only work by himself and after a year I went back to teaching.
At the beginning of the summer holidays it was suggested to me that I work in Singapore for a couple of months. A week later, I arrived there, was brought downtown to the headquarters of the Catholic newspaper, shown the editor's chair and told to sit down! So I had to start from scratch and my two months quickly turned into two years. I was eventually fired from my post by the local Archbishop who was not happy with my work.

Was there any particular reason for your dismissal?
Yes, to be honest there was. At the time I was editor, around 1968-69, Humanae Vitae was published and there was a great debate going on inside the Church for and against it. I regarded myself as a serious journalist and set about publishing views for and against the document, and this angered the Archbishop. He didn't mind me publishing articles in favour of Humanae Vitae but he wasn't too happy with me publishing articles against it. I think we had a basic difference of opinion - he felt the paper should have been an organ for teaching the faithful the doctrine of the Church, whereas I felt it should give both sides of the story and let people know what was going on. Anyway, at the end of my second year, it was the general feeling that it would be better for me to leave.

Where did you go?
I volunteered for Malaysia because I know they were very short-handed and Jesuits from Hong Kong were reluctant to go there. As it turned out, I spent almost all of the seventies there, from 1969-79. I was chaplain to two universities and I gave a lot of retreats and things like that. In my last year I was a parish priest.

In 1979 you returned to Hong Kong. How had the colony changed in the years you had been away?
Hong Kong is constantly changing, new buildings are always going up, new property constantly being created. For instance, they had a totally new road system which had been built while I was away. I didn't feel the same excitement that I had felt when I first arrived in the colony, but it is still a very vibrant place. I taught in a school up until 1981 but then I decided that teaching was not my strongest skill so I started to work in a new Catholic newsagency called UCAN. I've been helping to edit and report for the agency from then until now.

What is your opinion of the student demonstrations that took place last year in China and their significance for Hong Kong?
Well, the year that looms larger over the colony is 1997 when Britain hands it back to the Peking government, but I'm optimistic in the long run. : Hong Kong has gone through a lot of crises through the years and its people are very resilient. The people of China are very pragmatic, and I think the crackdown on the students was a setback, not a real change in direction. Two years ago China was regarded as the leading reformer in the Communist world, flow it is the last. Its political struggles are happening at the top, and things will change in the end.

Hong Kong is of colossai importance to China, in terms of economic and political power. It's very small but it is the eleventh largest industrial unit in the world. If China would only unleash the energies of its people it would become a huge power.

Your trip to Ireland is nearly at an end. Where do you think your travels will bring you next?
I could be spending a lot of time in Hong Kong, but you can never know for sure. If there was somewhere else I thought I was needed theri I would go. This is a very exciting period for the whole region - for the whole of the Far East and the Pacific Rim.

After spending most of your life in the Far East, where do you consider home?
I love Ireland, but I think I belong to the whole world rather than a single place. I see the whole

Did you ever think you would have ended up on the other side of the world when you decided to become a Jesuit?
To be honest, I had no idea! My original ambition was to become a teacher in a Jesuit school somewhere in Ireland. I volunteered for Hong Kong because I thought no one else would go.

Any regrets?
None at all.

Grogan, Patrick, 1902-1980, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/665
  • Person
  • 03 March 1902-27 February 1980

Born: 03 March 1902, Cloghan, County Offaly
Entered: 12 November 1925, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1936, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 05 November 1977
Died: 27 February 1980, Saint Paul's Hospital, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong - Macau-Hong Kong Province (MAC-HK)

Part of the Wah Yan College, Hong Kong community at the time of death

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966

Father was a National School teacher at Cloghan National School. Mother kept a small drapers shop.

Youngest of four boys.

Early education was at Cloghan National School, taught by his father. In 1914 he went to Rockwell College CSSp, Cashel.

In 1920 he gained a County Council scholarship - from Offaly - and achieved an ARCSc from the Royal College of Science for B Ag Science at UCD before entry.

by 1928 at Valkenburg, Limburg, Netherlands (GER I) studying
by 1931 fourth wave Hong Kong Missioners - Regency
by 1938 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship
by 1944 at Xavier, Park St, Calcutta, West Bengal, India (BEL M)

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Death of Father Patrick Grogan, S.J.

Father Patrick Grogan, SJ, of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, died in St. Paul’s Hospital on 27 February 1980, aged 77.

Father Grogan was born in Cloghan, Offaly, Ireland, on 3 March 1903. He joined the Jesuit novitiate in Ireland at the end of his university studies in 1925, did his philosophical studies in a German Jesuit College in Holland, and came to Hong Kong as a Jesuit scholastic in 1930.

In 1932 he was a member of the first group of Jesuits to teach in Wah Yan College, and Wah Yan was to be the scene of his activity for 31 of his remaining 48 years. After theological studies and ordination - 31 July 1936 - in Ireland, he returned to Wah Yan in 1938. He spent the war years partly in mainland China, partly in India, and returned again to Wah Yah in 1948. He moved to Malaysia in 1962 and served very happily in Assumption Parish, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, till 1970. Then for the last time, he returned to Wah Yan.

He was already aged 69; but he returned, not to enjoy honoured retirement, but to play a vital part in the life of the school. From the beginning of his teaching career he had taken a deep interest in all the boys of every class and in all their concerns. This interest, which he never lost, sharpened a remarkable memory. Even in his last years, he seldom failed to recall the face and the characteristics and the family and the later career of anyone whom he had known as a student in the 1950s or the 1940s or the 1930s. It sometimes happened that an old student, on returning to Hong Kong after years overseas, would find that his family had dispersed and his friends had forgotten him, but Father Grogan would lift his heart by remembering all about him and his family with interest undimmed by the passing of years.

In his last years Father Grogan had to cut down his teaching, but he never gave up. To within a few weeks of his death he still taught a class a day, and took complete charge of training in verse speaking for the whole school, and he still knew the boys and their ways as he had always known them. His apostolate was not merely an educational apostolate: it was also an apostolate of friendship and affection.

His fellow Jesuits will miss him as a good companion, a practiced raconteur, an exceptionally shrewd adviser and a devoted priest. He will remain in the memories of many hundreds of Wah Yan students, past and present, as someone who really cared.

The Bishop was chief concelebrant at the Requiem Mass in St. Margaret’s Church on 28 February. Father Gabriel Lam, V.G., in his homily paid eloquent tribute to Father Grogan, whom he had come to know and revere as his teacher years ago in Wah Yan.

Bishop F.A. Donaghy, M.M., officiated at the graveside in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Happy Valley.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 7 March 1980

Note from Timothy Doody Entry
Another passage in this book also describes Mr. Doody busy amid shelling and bombing. During a lull in his billeting work he found a new apostolate. Two priests were sheltered in the M.E.P. Procure on Battery Path. Mr. Doody took up his position outside the Procure and boldly enquired of all who passed if they were Catholics, and, if they were, did they wish to go to confession. The results were almost startling. The most unexpected persons turned out to be Catholics, from bright young things to old China hands, and after the first start of surprise at the question in the open street in staid, pleasure-loving Hong Kong, they generally took the turn indicated by Mr. Doody and found Father Grogan of Father Fitzgerald of Father O’Brien ready to meet them inside.

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
He entered at St Stanislaus College Tullabeg having graduated BAg at the Agricultural College in Dublin (Albert College, Glasnevin).

1927-1930 After First Vows he was sent to Valkenburg Netherlands for Philosophy.
1930-1933 He was sent for Regency to the new mission in Hong Kong and was one of the first scholastics to be sent there. He was first sent to Sacred Heart School in Canton, and then he was sent to St Joseph’s Seminary in Macau (1931-1932). By Autumn 1932 he was one of the first Jesuits to teach at Wah Yan College Robinson Road.
1933-1938 He returned to Ireland and Milltown Park for Theology and was Ordained there in 1936, after which he made Tertianship at St Beuno’s, Wales.
1938 He returned to Hong Kong as Minister at Wah Yan College Hong Kong
After WWII he returned to teach and to Prefecting at Wah Yan Hong Kong until 1962 when he was sent to Singapore. A a teacher and Prefect at Wah Yan he was known to be very kindly and got to know many generations of Wah Yan boys extremely well. He had a phenomenal memory for names and faces of the boys, and he was proud of having taught some grandsons of his former pupils.
1970 He returned to Hong Kong and Wah Yan. Although officially retired, he continued to take English conversation classes with Junior boys until shortly before his death. He also continued to coach boys for the Hong Kong Speech Festival. He was the advisor and overseer for the College magazine “The Star” all through the 1970s. In the Jesuit world he was also responsible for the distribution of the internal “Vice-Province Letter”.

Note from Paddy Joy Entry
According to Father Patrick Grogan “....... in Moral Theology and Canon Law, and especially in making the right approach to the right authorities, there was no one to equal him. I think he was at his best as our Mission Superior during the siege of Hong Kong”

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 23rd Year No 3 1948

Frs. Casey G., Grogan and Sullivan leave England for Hong Kong on 2nd July on the ‘Canton’. On the following day Fr. Kevin O'Dwyer hopes to sail with Fr. Albert Cooney from San Francisco on the ‘General Gordon’ for the same destination.
The following will be going to Hong Kong in August : Frs. Joseph Mallin and Merritt, Messrs. James Kelly, McGaley, Michael McLoughlin and Geoffrey Murphy.

Irish Province News 55th Year No 2 1980

Fr Patrick Grogan (1902-1925-1980)

The Hong Kong Mission lost a devoted apostle with the death of Fr Pat Grogan (27th February 1980). This news reached his relatives and friends at home in Ireland early in March. Although Fr Pat had reached the ripe age of 78, his demise was an unwelcome surprise to the countless friends he had made both at home and abroad.
Most of his life was spent in Hong Kong, but he was also well known in Macao as well as in Tan Chuk, where he had made many friends with the Maryknoll Fathers during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong.
His death took place in the French hospital, Causeway bay, Hong Kong, among the French Sisters of Charity, with St Aquinas of the Columban Sisters attending.
The requiem Mass was celebrated by the Bishop of Hong Kong, Bishop Wu, assisted by Maryknoll Bishop Donaghy, with more than 30 priests concelebrating. He was buried in the cemetery at Happy Valley beside his old friends of the Pontifical Foreign Mission Institute of Milan (PIME), Frs Granelli and Poletti, well-known characters in Hong Kong parochial life. He is with the unforgettables. RIP

Fr Grogan’s soul went to meet his Lord on 27th February 1980, after a heart attack, He was 78 years old and had spent about 45 years in the Far East. Parishioners of the Assumption church, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, where he spent six years as PP, sent messages of sympathy, and offered prayers and Masses for the repose of his soul and in thanksgiving for all the help he gave as a devoted priest.
Few know that he graduated from a Dublin university with a B Ag (Agriculture) degree. Having done so he joined the Jesuit order, to imitate the Sower whom our Lord speaks about in his beautiful parable. He spent those years already mentioned as a sower of God's truth in the Far East, working in China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore (one year) and Petaling Jaya. But most of his life was spent in the classrooms of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, as a teacher and counsellor.
We are told that grace builds on nature, Father Pat had a great gift of imitation, and this gift with God's grace became a spiritual charism. The result was seen in his imitation of our Lord, so that he became Christlike in many respects. In Fr Pat there was a great commitment to God's glory, a deep concern for others, fortitude in long suffering, great zeal, gentleness and meekness and, where necessary, strength.
His natural gift of imitation was remarkable. It helped him to master perfectly the very complicated Cantonese tones. To hear him speak you would not think be was a foreigner. He would cause you to shout with laughter when he imitated the Cantonese hawkers, shouting their wares in the streets of Hong Kong or Malaysia. A hawker would pass and Fr Pat’s imitation of him was a perfect echo. If he had gone to Hollywood instead of being a sower of God's truth, he would have become famous. He could have impersonated all the great filmstars to perfection.
In 1932 Mr Peter Tsui and Mr Lim Hoy Lan (RIP), the founders of the well-known Chinese college of Wah Yan, handed over the college and hostel to the Jesuit Fathers. The teachers, college and hostel students were rather concerned. They had not had much contact with Europeans and were rather worried and fearful. Fr Pat was in charge of the hostel. He had a special charism for dealing with hostel students. He ruled by kindness and gentle instruction and made the hostel a “home from home”, a policy which Frs Brian Kelly and Albert Cooney used in other hostels. The result was that when the teachers and students saw how happy the hostel students were, their concern diminished, and then began a great work of conversions and lifelong friendships.
After the surrender of Hong Kong to the Japanese, Fr Pat was sent to Free China to work in a seminary. When the communists were advancing, he and Fr Ned Sullivan were ordered to fly the seminarians over the “Hump” to India. When peace came, he returned to the classroom in Hong Kong. In 1961 he went to Malaysia to be PP of the Assumption church, Petaling Jaya, till some local priests were available to take over after seven years: then back again to the classroom.
His return to Hong Kong was hailed with great joy by the generations of his past students and converts. He had a memory like a computer, only that it was accompanied by a sympathetic heart. He could remember his old friends and their families, their cousins and in-laws - and even their out-laws!
His histrionic gifts bore great fruit. For many years his students took the leading prizes for public speaking, elocution, debating and production of plays. He was remarkable, as also was Fr Albert Cooney, for getting jobs and positions for his students,
Many students used to come to him for consolation. At school they had been treated in a fraternal and Christlike manner, and they expected all foreigners would treat them likewise. They were surprised when they were scolded and made lose face by angry managers. They came to Fr Pat depressed, wishing to resign and at times in despair. As counsellor, he used to give advice which enabled them to face with fortitude the trials of life.
I am sure that he received a great reception from the Holy Family. My imagination pictures him regaling friends in heaven, if they had 1.5 hours of heavenly time to spare, by telling them one of his short stories. I picture also St Peter keeping Fr Pat busy when his generations of past students apply for admittance. Fr Pat would point his spiritual finger at some of them and say “I told you so”, and then add “Au revoir, we shall meet again, choy kin”.
Fr Pat was a great sower of our Lord's truth, and I am sure he prays for an abundant ripening harvest.

Howatson, Joseph, 1910-1972, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/721
  • Person
  • 18 March 1910-23 August 1972

Born: 18 March 1910, West View Terrace, Waterville, County Kerry
Entered: 17 September 1927, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1941, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1944, St Mary’s Emo, County Laois
Died: 23 August 1972, Ricci Hall, Hong Kong - Hong Kong Vice Province (HK)

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1936 at Aberdeen, Hong Kong - Regency

WWII Chaplain

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Death of Father Patrick Joseph Howatson, S.J.

Father Patrick Joseph Howatson, SJ, chairman of the Hong Kong boys and Girls Clubs Association, died at Grantham Hospital on 23 August 1972, aged 62.

He was born at Waterville, Co. Kerry, Ireland, in 1910, educated at Clongowes Wood College, Ireland, and joined the Jesuit Order in 1927. Before long he had proved himself the most effective and clear-sighted organizer among the Irish Jesuits of his generation.

He spent the years 1935-38 in Hong Kong, teaching in the Regional Seminary, Aberdeen, and in Wah Yan College.

He was ordained priest in Ireland in 1941. His main work until his return to Hong Kong in 1946 was the preaching of popular missions - courses of very direct and forceful sermons - but he gave all the time he could spare to the Bevedere Newsboys Club, working for it with an enthusiasm that was to bear fruit here.

On his return to Hong Kong in 1946 he became a teacher at Wah Yan College and procurator for the Hong Kong Jesuits. He was horrified by the sight of post-war destitution. The shoeshine boys in particular captured his attention. Many of them were homeless orphans; none of them had much to look forward to when their day’s work was done. For them he founded his first club, at Wah Yan College, then on Robinson Road.

This club, with its carefully considered mixture of education and recreation, flourished under Father Howatson’s combination of firm discipline with unforced and understanding affection. It soon served as a model for some of the many boys clubs that were springing up to meet a need that was especially urgent in the early post-war years. When the Boys and Girls Clubs (BGCA) was reorganised to cope with this growth, Father Howatson was elected chairman, Bishop Hall being President.

Father Howatson gave up teaching and devoted his abundant energy to his new task, He took a deep interest in all the clubs in the association. His personal preference would have been to work directly for the boys, but as chairman he regarded it as his first duty to train club leaders and to advise and encourage them once they had taken up work. He also devoted endless care to the planning, building and use of the Holiday Home at Silvermine Bay.

In 1959, the BGCA moved to its own headquarters in Lockhart Road. At the opening, Sir Robert Black, then Governor of Hong Kong, paid the following tribute:

Any collective effort requires a high degree of planning and organisation; a good committee needs a first-class chairman; the Boys and Girls Clubs Association are most fortunate in their chairman, Father Howatson.

This building stands above us today completed because of his drive and his resource, because of the sheer hard work which he has put into it all behind the scenes, and, of course, anyone who is a potential benefactor must be keenly aware of Father Howatson's notable work.

In addition to his work for the BGCA Father Howatson took an active part in the work of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service. As chairman of the Standing Committee of Youth Organisations he led an important East Asian Seminar on Social Group Work among youth. It would be difficult to think of any form of social work in which he did not take a vigorous part - playgrounds, housing, personal problems, crisis relief and so on.

Towards the end of this period he was reaching out to the development of clubs for young men and women. Unhappily, the failure of his health prevented him from carrying out this plan - a notable loss to the community.

Father Howatson was the first chairman of the Hong Kong Catholic Social Welfare Conference, and was closely associated with Mgr. C.H. Vath in the earlier stages of the development of Caritas Hong Kong. He agreed to take over the direction of the proposed Caritas Social Centre in Kennedy Town. In consequence, he resigned the chairmanship of the BGCA.

When he was still supervising the building of the new Centre, he suffered a moderately severe stroke. Though paralysed on one side, he recovered sufficiently to continue work, though at a slower pace, and was able to open the Kennedy Town Caritas Social Centre and to direct its operation for over a year.

A more severe stroke in 1965 put an end to his active work. He spent his last years in the Kennedy Town Caritas Social Centre, bedridden but not quite forgotten. Many of those for whom or with whom he had worked retained a warm interest in all that concerned him; nor did those who had seen his work from above forget him. A former Governor, a former Chief Justice and a former Director of Social Welfare were numbered those solaced his inactivity through their sympathy.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 1 September 1972

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
His father was a Scottish engineer employed to maintain the trans-Atlantic cable. He converted to Catholicism in order to marry and his son became a strong Catholic and Irishman. He received his early education at Clongowes Wood College before he entered the Society in 1927. He had been known as a very good rugby player who had won an inter-provincial schools cap.

He came to Hong Kong as Regent with Seán Turner who was a different personality and whose whole world was words and ideas. Travelling with them was Fr Cooney who was bringing the Markee telescope and setting it up. he was able to deal with every situation he met in Hong Kong in dealing with schoolboys. He was a Mathematics teacher and Sports Master. From his earliest days in the Society he had positions of responsibility. According to Harry Naylor he was outstanding in practical matters, not least as a carpenter running the Ricci Mission Unit.

He returned to Ireland to study Theology. Once he had finished Tertianship he became an Army Chaplain.
1945 He returned to Hong Kong as Mission Procurator. According to Harry Naylor, Thomas Ryan had great influence over him. His humanity and concern for others was soon channelled into the Shoeshine Boys Club in Wah Yan College Hong Kong, and this became a model for many other boys clubs which sprung up to meet the needs of the day. When the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Association was set up, Joseph was elected Chairman, with Anglican Bishop Hall the President. He threw himself into youth and social work in Hong Kong and was soon on the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, which Thomas Ryan had set up. He was also on the Government Social Welfare Advisory Committee. He helped many volunteer bodies as well as women’s religious with their balance sheets. When the Diocese set up its Catholic Social Welfare Conference he was made Executive Secretary. This later became “Caritas”. At this time Jesuits in Asia were involved in many social activities. At a Jesuit meeting on Tokyo in 1960 with Frs Hogan, Dijkstra and Ballon, he came up with the SELA acronym (Socio Economic Life in Asia) and it became one of the most successful inter-provincial works in the Society.

Returning from a SELA meeting in Indonesia in 1962 he had his first stroke. He gave up being Procurator in 1964 - Fr J Kelly succeeding him. He then went to live at Caritas Mok Cheung Sui Kun Community Centre, Pokfield Road, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong and was attached to Ricci Hall.

Note from Thomas Ryan Entry
He encouraged the “Shoe Shiners Club”, which later blossomed into the “Boys and Girls Clubs association” under Joseph Howatson.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 22nd Year No 1 1947

Departures for Mission Fields in 1946 :
4th January : Frs. P. J. O'Brien and Walsh, to North Rhodesia
25th January: Frs. C. Egan, Foley, Garland, Howatson, Morahan, Sheridan, Turner, to Hong Kong
25th July: Fr. Dermot Donnelly, to Calcutta Mission
5th August: Frs, J. Collins, T. FitzGerald, Gallagher, D. Lawler, Moran, J. O'Mara, Pelly, Toner, to Hong Kong Mid-August (from Cairo, where he was demobilised from the Army): Fr. Cronin, to Hong Kong
6th November: Frs. Harris, Jer. McCarthy, H. O'Brien, to Hong Kong

Irish Province News 23rd Year No 4 1948

Fr. Leo Donnelly who has been offered to the Viceprovince of Australia, completed his course at Kurseong recently (he was professor of Church History) and sailed on the SANGOLA for Hong Kong on 10th September. “As it proves impossible”, he writes, “to secure a passage direct to Australia within reasonable time, Fr. Austin Kelly has given me permission to travel via Hong Kong. It was quite easy to book a passage to that port, and Fr. Howatson has booked a berth for me from there to Melbourne. Needless to say, I am delighted at the chance of seeing the Mission, even if I am not to stay there. The ship for Australia will not sail till near the end of October, so that I shall not be at Fr. Kelly's disposal till sometime in November. This, however, is quicker than waiting for a direct passage”.

Irish Province News 47th Year No 4 1972

Obituary :

Fr Joseph Howatson SJ (1910-1972)

Fr Howatson died in hospital in Hong Kong on August 23rd after practically ten years of increasing incapacitation as a result of a series of paralytic strokes. He succumbed after a short period in hospital, finally. He was buried in the Catholic Cemetery, Happy Valley after Requiem Mass at St Margaret's Church on August 25th; the obsequies were attended by a large gathering of priests, religious and laity.
Fr Joe was born at Waterville, Co. Kerry on 18th March 1910, son of a Scottish engineer, one of a group employed to maintain the transatlantic cable stations at Waterville and Valentia. He, Mr Howatson senior, married a local girl as did some of his fellow engineers, thereby occasioning their adoption into the Church; a daughter became a Loreto nun and Joe entered the Society after schooling in Clongowes in September 1927.
As a schoolboy Joe was a stalwart member of the Clongowes Rugby team and through life his fine physique and energetic character led to his being habitually committed to work requiring a fund of practical efficiency, together with his fulfilling the more hum-drum yet demanding work of Mission Procurator - which fell to him in Hong Kong when he returned to the Mission after ordination. He maintained he had no aptitude for learning, a modest avowal which bore no confirmation in his record of studies in that he satisfied without embarrassment the exacting demands of Genicot and Dogma in the Milltown of the '30s. Again his versatility and resource as a stage carpenter at Tullabeg, as a philosopher in Milltown and later on the Mission, in continued partnership with Fr Terry Sheridan, as stage manager and producer, could hardly result from mere series of happy coincidences,
After his noviceship Joe followed the normal routine of Rathfarnham and a degree, Tullabeg for philosophy and 1935 Hong Kong to which previously he had eagerly aspired and showing his bent in the effective manner with which he engaged in the work of the Ricci Mission Unit.
Largely through his labour a large telescope - purchased from the Markree Observatory and presented as a gift to the Mission - was dismantled before his departure from Ireland to be reinstalled in collaboration with Fr T Cooney at Aberdeen Seminary on his arrival at Hong Kong.
Back to Milltown 1938, ordination 1941, tertianship 1942-'43. Because of war time difficulties in travel he was unable to return to Hong Kong immediately and was assigned to the Mission staff where again he proved his capacity as an effective preacher,
Finally the chance of a passage on a military plane enabled him to attain his heart's desire; almost directly he was appointed to the work of Procurator already alluded to and he retained that exacting chore until his capacity to write was impaired by his illness.
This was merely a part-occupation for him; in harness with Fr Tom Ryan who was throughout his prompter and confidant, he established a Shoeshine Boys' Club in which education was discreetly mingled with recreation and this was later the model upon which many other clubs catering for girls as well as for boys were organised,
Ultimately when a liaison was established coordinating these various associations Fr Joe was chosen chairman whose duties approximated rather to those of an administrator; in this capacity his work was recognised and paid tribute to by the Colony authorities; we lend only to the rich - his activities still fanned out; he became a member of a government-appointed body, the Welfare Advisory Committee and continued so for years with the task of offering advice on social needs and schemes to the Governor and of dealing with subventions for various voluntary bodies. Fr Joe's practical experience resulted in his becoming an accountant in effect to charitable works run by religious communities on the island; indeed in the course of the 'fifties he was recognised as one of the most conversant with social work with a meticulous sense of the value of an accurate balance sheet of the work engaged in. In the Hong Kong diocese he was the first secretary of the body which later formed the nucleus of Caritas H.K. and within the Society he contributed actively to the formation of SELA, the Committee for “Socio-Economic Life in Asia”.
It is pathetic, in retrospect, to see that all this activity was abruptly intruded upon by the first stroke in September 1962. Though not altogether incapacitated and only perforce making concessions under increasing debility the latter years required a fortitude in a situation to which the “rude” health he habitually previously enjoyed hardly adapted him. He continued to work in the John XXIII Centre in Kennedy Town but gradually he be came more immobilised; he was not much given to reading which might have been a diversion and a defective speech which developed deprived him of the distraction of conversation except with a small number of intimates who regularly visited him; may he not have been subjected to affliction, emulous to some degree of St Peter Claver in his concluding years? All was heroically borne. His second sister, Mrs Clarke of Tralee, who attended the month's mind Mass for his repose in late September at Gardiner St confessed that the news of his demise though sad in the thought of his parting was yet to her a comfort in that God who thus sealed him had taken him to Himself. May he rest in peace.

◆ The Clongownian, 1951

A Poor Boys’ Club in Hong Kong

by Father Donal Taylor SJ

Fr Joe Howatson (OC 22-27) is well known to many Clongownians. The following article, kindly written by Mr Donald Taylor SJ, Hongkong, will be read with interest by many, especially by those who are helping the work of the Clongowes Boys' Club. It gives an account of a small part of Fr Joe's activities in Hongkong

Icehouse Street, Hongkong, running at right angles to the waterfront, forms a connecting link between the city's main thoroughfares in the Central District. Along the narrow street of verandahed sidewalks, business people, office clerks and government officials pass four times each day, to and from work. Icehouse Street is a cold place in the winter time when blasts of cold Easterly winds sweep around its corners. The Summer heat is much more distressing there. On this street one meets a type of person, insignificant though he be, who forms part of the landscape of big cities in the East. He is the shoeshine boy. With stand, brushes and polish, he takes up his position on the edge of the sidewalk. He gazes hopefully at passers-by, and calls his “Shoeshine, Shoeshine”. His earnings are small-twenty to forty cents for each shoeshine. He is at the mercy of his customer. There is one other phrase these boys know, “Shan Foo” or “Father” and they shout it lustily at every Catholic priest they see, but especially at the Jesuit Fathers. These boys are pagans. What connection have they with the Irish Jesuits in Hongkong? The answer to that question is found in the story of the Poor Boys' Club started at Wah Yan College in the autumn of 1946, by Fr P J Howatson SJ. And yet it is only the foundation of the Club that dates from that time. The idea of the club goes back to the time when Fr Howatson was interested in the Belvedere Newsboys' Club and acted as their Chaplain during their summer camps. For it was from his experience with that Club that he got the idea of starting a Club for poor boys in Hongkong.

The teeming millions of the East is no idle phrase, as every newcomer from the West quickly realises. Great poverty and great wealth have always been associated with big populations. Hongkong, now more than ever, because of the recent war, is no exception when Fr Howatson returned after the war, the city was being rehabilitated. And the poor were not the first to be thought of. There were waifs and strays, whose bed was some doorway or alcove, and whose meal was the pickings of garbage tins. They were the down-trodden members of the community, suspected by those in authority and treated wretchedly by the rich. They lived by their wits, which often meant pilfering and robbing. The future held little hope for them. Largely through the fault of the society of which they were members, it might eventually bring term after term of imprisonment.

Fr Howatson, accompanied by the present manager of the Club, Mr Joseph Cheung, a past student of the Jesuit College of Wah Yan, set about contacting some of these poor boys. They were invited to come to Wan Yan College. Shy, yet inquisitive in the beginning, a small number responded, until finally a group of thirty was formed. Almost all were shoeshiners, some were orphans, some street sleepers. The good news spread, boys brought friends and it was hard to turn them away. Moreover, as the full number could not attend on any one night it was possible to have additional members on the roll. Then when applications continued to pour in, two sections were formed, junior and senior. Now there are 110 boys in the club. Their ages vary from ten to twenty. This number includes twenty-five Old Boys - more about them later.

The organisation of the club has always remained the same. The ordinary meetings of the club are held four times each week in the College Hall, from 7 to 9 pm. During that time the boys have a physical training period of half an hour, followed by showers. Half an hour of lessons comes next, which may include elementary arithmetic, letter writing, or written Chinese. This is the first schooling in the lives of most of these lads. Then there is another half hour devoted to games in the school-basket ball, ping-pong, or football for the small boys. The meeting closes with a substantial meal, and a short moral instruction or a talk on character formation. Chinese boys are fond of singing, so a Chinese lady teaches the boys in the club Catholic hymns. When he was a teacher in Wan Yan, Mr Francis Chan SJ gave the shoeshine boys a class in Christine Doctrine. Now this work is being done by a catechist.

The club has depended from the beginning on generous benefactors for its financial support. The boys of Wah Yan College make an organised effort each Christinas, which in the first year, brought in more than 1,000 dollars. Last year and in 1949 they played a major part in the organising and running of a bazaar to raise funds for the club. The proceeds from a week's performance of one of their Chinese operas in English by the Wah Yan Dramatic Society, under the direction of Mr Sheridan SJ, were donated to the club.

The aim of the club is not merely to provide fun, food and games for poor boys. It is really to give them a chance to grow up, self-respecting citizens in their own class, and to earn a living honestly. True enough, shoeshining is very low in the scale of suitable careers. Yet it gives the boys a start in life, and with the club as a backing, there is always the hope of better things to come. At the moment thirty or forty boys are licensed shoeshiners, twenty help their parents at hawking or at street stalls, another twenty have jobs as office boys, coolies, etc., and the remainder are either unemployed or too young to work. Two large agencies adopted the shoeshine boys and provided then with neat uniforms and new polishing outfits. To fit them for a trade, an instructor is employed, who gives lessons in basket-making. It is intended to introduce leather work later on. The club's handicap is lack of premises. It relies entirely on the use of the class-rooms. It is quite clear that until proper facilities are obtained the possibilities of teaching the boys trades will be considered retarded. Only when opportunities are put in their way will it be discovered what latent talents there are among these boys. That they have these hidden gifts is proved by the example of one boy who was able to exchange shoeshining for engraving. He is now a skilled engraver.

To encourage the boys to practice thrift, the club bank pays an interest of ten per cent every three months on savings deposited in the bank. At each club meeting lodgements and withdrawals may be made. The generous rate of interest is successful in making the boys realise the advantages of saving. Some boys have as much as thirty dollars in the bank.

About twenty-five boys have graduated from shoeshining into better jobs. They work in clothing factories, rubber factories, barbour taxis, barbers' shops; three or more are shoemakers apprentices, one is a qualified draftsman. These twenty-five boys, they are young men now, form the Old Boys' section of the club. They are still in the club, yet separate from it. They have their own executive committee, they hold a monthly meeting at which they discuss how they can help each other and how they can improve the running of the club. They have their own basket-ball team, the outfits for which were supplied partly by the club and partly by themselves Occasionally they go out on picnics together. An interesting development among the old boys is their co-operation. Each boy contributes a certain amount to the treasury, so that if any one member wishes to start an enterprise the required sum is loaned to him at a low rate of interest. The loan must first be sanctioned at a meeting of the Old Boys themselves. Recently they decided to take a census of the whole club in order to find out details about the family of each boy, to visit his home - if he had any - and to see what help could be given to the parents or brothers or sisters. A certain number of these older boys attend night school, run by Wah Yan where they can learn English, knowledge of which greatly increases their earning power in Hongkong.

One year and a half after the club was opened, in June, 1948, a procedure was introduced which has since become a regular feature, namely a “Mothers' Meeting”. Each boy was told to invite his mother or nearest relative to a special meeting of the club. Thirty-five non members were present on that occasion. The function and working of the club was made known to them as well as the hopes which those in charge placed in it. The mothers or guardians present were also told how they could help to make the club more successful. Many of these people have since become regular visitors, seeking advice and assistance not only in their children's difficulties but also in their own. They earn their living by doing the severest type of manual labour. As one sees then in the streets, coolies all of them, one gets the wrong impression that they are long living healthy strong people. The truth is that the majority never live to see middle age. They just wear out their bodies. They drifted into Hongkong after the Japanese occupation, ready to undertake any kind of work which would keep them alive.

Although the senior club members play large part in the running of the club, the main responsibility is borne by outsiders. They are worthy of mention. All of them were former pupils of Wah Yan College. With the exception of two, one of whom is under instruction in the Faith, all of them are Catholics. Mr Joseph Cheung, who in the beginning helped Fr Howatson to start the club, is club manager. He devotes all his free time to the club activities. The boys have great respect and love for him; indeed the friendly relations that exist between all the helpers and the boys are a noteworthy characteristic of the club.

These men give their time willingly and do not ask for recompense. The “present” in Wah Yan are becoming increasingly interested in the club. Several of them come to give the boys classes in Chinese and arithmetic. It is the first experience these schoolboys have of social welfare work. When they leave school, it is hoped that the memory of the good work in their club will stimulate them to play their part in social welfare work in their city.

Concerning entertainment it has already been stated that at each meeting of the club there is a half an hour of games. Film Shows are sometimes substituted for games and lessons. At Christmas there is a party, at which a large supper is provided. There are games and prizes, and each boy gets a present from the Christmas tree. The present usually takes the form of warm clothing and a polishing outfit. Every important Chinese festival and the anniversary of the opening of the club are fittingly celebrated. There are excursions to the sea in the fine weather. The most important event in the year is the holiday camp in the summer, when eighty boys or more, camp by the sea for a week. It is a great treat for these city lads and they thoroughly enjoy it. They return home healthier and happier, having drunk full of the excitement that always accompanies a boys camp.

Like the mustard seed in the Gospel, the boys club has developed enormously and within a short time, too. Its successful management attracted wide attention and became well-known throughout Hongkong. Its founder, Fr Howatson, was called on to take charge of numerous executive bodies which deal with youth organisation. He is chairman of the Boys and Girls' Clubs Association, which controls the activities of sixty-four clubs throughout the Colony; chairman of the Standing Conference of Youth Organisations, a body which co ordinates the work of Societies aiming at helping young people; and he is also chairman of the Management Committee of The War Memorial Welfare Centre. This Welfare Centre, the first of its kind in Hongkong has been in operation for less than a year and has already proved itself a boon to the poor people of a district, the population of which is about 2,000 to the acre.

When a priest is living in a pagan country no matter what secular work he does there, the question of conversions among those for whom he works must necessarily arise. The Poor Boys Club had its first Catholics last Christmas, when three boys among the older group received baptism. They are five more under instruction in Catholic Doctrine. Even though younger boys may desire to be baptised, it has been decided and very wisely, that it would be better to wait until a boys livelihoood is secure before baptising him. In this way there is less chance of his becoming a “rice Christian”.

In conclusion, the reader is referred, by way of contrast, to an article which appeared in the “Clongownian” of last year, on the Clongowes Boys' Club. Those who have managed boys' clubs in Ireland and in Hongkong have noted some differences. The boys in Ireland have some kind of home, and have received at least elementary training. Many of the boys here are home less waifs, whose parents, if they have any, cannot support them. They cannot go to school, because in this city, populated out of all proportion to its capacity, there are insufficient schools. The only schooling they get is whatever the club gives them. Another factor worthy of attention is the religious one. The poor Irish poor living in a Catholic atmosphere and with a Catholic background, has a religious spirit to fortify him in his sufferings. This religious spirit is altogether absent in the young pagan. His patience in his sufferings is the outcome of a pessimistic stoicism. The Chinese boy is docile, shows a respect for authority, and is appreciative of what is being done to make him happier. The foreigners big difficulty in working with these boys is one of language. But whether the lay helper feels the same embarrassment in his early contacts with the poor boys, as his opposite number in Ireland, is some thing which he alone can tell.

Donald Taylor SJ

◆ The Clongownian, 1973


Father Joseph Howatson SJ

Joseph Howatson was born in Waterville, Co Kerry, where his father was an engineer in the Transatlantic Cable Station. When he finished schooling in Clongowes he entered the Jesuit Noviceship in September 1927. After taking his degree in UCD, and studying Philosophy in Tullabeg, he went to Hong Kong as a scholastic, Returning to Ireland he did his theological studies in Milltown Park and was ordained a priest in 1941. In 1943 he returned to Hong Kong and spent the rest of his priestly life there.

His main life work lay in the sphere of social science. He organized boys clubs and became a member of a government appointed body in which he had the task of offering advice to the Governor on the social needs of the colony. In the Hong Kong diocese he was secretary of the Caritas organisation and contributed to the formation of a body known as the committee for the Social Economic Life of Asia. He suffered a stroke in 1962 from which he : never really recovered and had to gradually retire from “active” work. In his later life he was almost totally incapacitated and death came to him as a merciful relief on August 23rd, 1972.

Kane, Ciarán, 1932-2013, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/852
  • Person
  • 28 December 1932-05 February 2013

Born: 28 December 1932, Clontarf, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1950, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1964, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 25 March 1968
Died: 05 February 2013, Eastern Hospital, Hong Kong - Sinensis Province (CHN)

Part of the Xavier House, Cheung Chau, Hong Kong community at the time of death

Transcribed HIB to HK: 25 March 1968; HK to CHN 1992

by 1958 at Cheung Chau, Hong Kong - Regency studying language
by 1967 at Mount Street London (ANG) studying

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
A dignified missionary presence lost
A quiet, but dignified missionary presence was lost to Hong Kong on 5 February 2013 with the death of Jesuit Father Ciaran Finbarr Kane. He was 80 years old.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1932, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1950, graduating from the University College Dublin, now known as the National University of Ireland, before coming to Hong Kong in 1958. He was ordained a priest at the Jesuit house of Milltown Park, Ireland, on the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, on 31 July 1964. A talented and adaptable man, he taught at both Wah Yan Colleges, in Kowloon and Hong Kong, but in 1971 he became the founding chaplain at the Adam Schall Residence of the United College at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he forged good relationships with both the administration and teaching staff until the university took over management of residence in 1994. A tribute from the current management of the college notes, “Throughout his distinguished affiliation with United College in the past decades, Father Kane has given invaluable advice and guidance to the development of the college. He was loved and respected by the college community; his dedication will be forever cherished.” During his time in Hong Kong, Father Kane was also on the staff of Star of the Sea parish in Chai Wan, but in 2004 he moved to the society’s retreat centre, Xavier House, in Cheung Chau, where he lived quietly as a spiritual director until 2012, touching the atmosphere within the walls and grounds with the serenity of a man of God. His other great love was music and he became the well-known voice of RTHK4 (Radio Television Hong Kong) presenting sacred music for its programme, Gloria.
The director of the Hong Kong City Chamber Orchestra paid tribute to Father Kane’s appreciation of the religious dimension of music last year, when he took part in a presentation of Johann Sebastian Bach by cellist, Artem Konstantinov. The musical presentation was interspersed with the words of Christ, read by Father Kane.
“It has been a pleasure to develop the idea of combining Bach’s unaccompanied cello suites with passages from the bible with both Father Ciaran Kane and Artem,” the director wrote at the time. “It has also been a thought-provoking task, for such a combination of scripture readings and unaccompanied music has never been done before worldwide, I imagine,” she continued. The newsletter also pays tribute to the artistic suggestions of Father Kane in creating a suitable atmosphere in the small chapel of St. Stephen’s College in Stanley, with candlelight and shadows. His broadcasting career saw him presenting both Catholic and ecumenical programmes, including Morning Prayers and a twice-weekly Midday Prayers, together with live broadcasts of Sunday religious services on a monthly basis. He is especially remembered for his tribute to fathers on a Fathers’ Day programme, featuring the music of Eric Clapton. He was a member of the Religious Broadcasting and Television Advisory Committee at RTHK and made the move to free-to-air television, taking part in discussions on the infant TVB on matters as diverse as Christmas and Easter, coverage of the visit of Pope Paul VI to Hong Kong in December 1970 and the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to usher in the Jubilee Year in 2000. His sister, Eileen Kane, said on 13 February at a vigil Mass in St. Margaret’s, Happy Valley, the evening before his funeral, that her brother had no other dream than to join the Jesuits. She related how she accompanied him to a talk given by a Jesuit priest when he was a young man, saying that from that day on, he was quite convinced he had found his true vocation and road in life. Father Kane died peacefully after being hospitalised for three weeks in Eastern Hospital. He was buried from St. Margaret’s on 14 February in St. Michael’s Happy Valley Cemetery.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 24 February 2013

Note from Frank Doyle Entry
Father Ciaran Kane, from Xavier House in Cheung Chau, studied with him in high school in Ireland and they were again together in the Jesuit formation programme, coming to Hong Kong at about the same time. Father Kane described his old friend as charming and a man who made friends easily, although in many ways he could be called a loner, as he liked to do his own thing in his own way. Father Kane said that something changed in him in later years. In describing him as dapper, he noted that in his later years he become really casual and even grew a beard. “But he really loved writing,” Father Kane said, “and he was good at it. For many years after he went back to Ireland, he would return to Kuala Lumpur and do a month at the Catholic paper each year. He wrote many things.” Father Kane said, “He never forgot his Cantonese though and kept contact with Chinese people in Ireland and England, as well as in Vancouver and New York for many years.”

◆ Irish Jesuit Missions : https://www.jesuitmissions.ie/news/213-missionary-in-hong-kong-2012

Missionary in Hong Kong 2012
Ciaran Kane, SJ
Being a missionary anywhere today is very different from what it was 50 years ago, when I first arrived in Hong Kong. Both the world and the church have changed so much in the meantime. For the church, a richer understanding of what ‘mission’ means, and that the idea of ‘mission’ is a call to all Christians. For the world, the onset of globalisation bringing peoples and cultures into closer contact and mutual influence and interdependence.
In the past, more than today, being a missionary implied coming from a faraway place bringing a set of beliefs, practices and values that were ‘foreign’ to the people you came to serve. Whether admired or reviled, the missionary had a distinctive status with his/her people. But global communications, international travel, studying and service abroad, and the shrinking of our world have now levelled the ground, and, I think, integrated the missionary more into the local church and society.
So, for me being a missionary today is a consciousness of serving the universal church, the international body of Christ, people of many races and places. As a Jesuit my specific mission is a ministry that involves me with Catholics and other Christians, local Chinese and foreign residents, working with men and women, young and old, religious and lay, married and single --- in short a microcosm of the universal church. But it’s also important for me as a citizen of this city to be concerned about society as a whole, about the social milieu in which I live and work, and to give witness to a Christian presence in civic and cultural life. I hope I can be a useful instrument in the Lord’s vineyard.

◆ 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 born in Dublin and was educated at Belvedere College SJ, and he then joined the Society in 1950.

1958-1961 He came to Hong Kong for Regency where he learned Cantonese and taught at Wah Yan College Hong Kong.
1967 After Ordination he returned to Hong Kong with a mission to focus on communications.
1972-1994 With the opening of the Adam Schall Residence at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, he became its founding Warden serving students and faculty.

He was known to be always friendly and approachable and had a keen interest in Church music. His sister taught Organ Music and Music History at University College Dublin. He became involved in Radio Hong Kong (RTHK Radio 4), and was greatly appreciated by them for his religious broadcasts and religious music programmes from 1967. That year he was appointed as a Member of the Advisory Committee on Religious Broadcasting nd Television, an ecumenical committee, and in 1969 was appointed Chairman.

When he retired he went to Cheung Chau helping in the Parish and as an advisor on Spirituality at the Centre.

Note from Paddy Finneran Entry
Among his students were Ciarán Kane and Frank Doyle in Belvedere

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 152 : Summer 2013


Fr Ciarán Kane (1932-2013)

Fr. Ciarán F. Kane S.J. died in Hong Kong on 5 February 2013, at the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital. During the final weeks of his long illness, and in the days around his funeral, the structural lines and the wide outreach of his ministry were brought into focus. Visitors came to the hospital from United College, in the Chinese University of Hong Kong, from RTHK's Radio 4, from the Star of the Sea parish in Chai Wan, and from Cheung Chau. Some were past pupils of the Wah Yan Colleges, others alumni of United College. There were broadcasters and people who had come to know Ciarán through his work on radio, friends at whose marriages he had officiated and whose children he had baptized, people who had come to him for spiritual direction. Other friends telephoned from the United States, Canada, England, Malasia and Ireland as well as from Hong Kong. All showed a real affection for him, as well as great appreciation of all he had accomplished in fifty years of ministry in Hong Kong.

Ciarán was born in Dublin on 28th December 1932. He attended school, first locally in Clontarf, and then at Belvedere College, which had a decisive influence on him. There, his intelligence and his giftedness were fostered. Not only did he shine academically, but his fine singing voice was recognised, and he was given leading roles in the annual Gilbert and Sullivan operas that were a feature of those years. It was also at Belvedere that he came to know about the work of Irish Jesuits in Hong Kong.

Ciarán entered the Jesuit Noviciate at Emo, on 7 September 1950. There followed, from 1952 to 1955, three years of studies in Latin and French for a B.A. at University College Dublin, and three years of Philosophy at Tullabeg, at the end of which, in the Summer of 1958, he was assigned to Hong Kong. His parents had no need to ask whether Ciarán was happy about being sent to Hong Kong - nothing could have been more evident. For two years, based in Xavier House, in Cheung Chau, he studied Cantonese, and then spent a year teaching Mathematics, English and Religion in Wah Yan College, Kowloon.

Back in Ireland, after three years of Theology, Ciarán was ordained a priest at Milltown Park on 31st July, 1964. Then, having completed the Tertianship year, also in Dublin, he embarked upon courses in media studies, in order to train as a broadcaster on radio and television. These courses took him to England, to work at the B.B.C. with the well-known broadcaster of religious programmes, the Franciscan Fr. Agnellus Andrew. He also went to Paris, to the French broadcasting station, ORTF, and worked in Dublin at the Catholic Communications Centre in Booterstown. Thus equipped, he returned to Hong Kong in the summer of 1967. In due course he became a member of the Chinese Province.

Ciarán's first assignment as a priest was at Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, teaching English and Religion, but right from the start, he was also scripting and presenting religious programmes on radio. Not long after his arrival, in 1967, he was asked to take over the twice weekly programme called 'Midday Prayers', and from then on, for the next twenty-something years, he was heard each week by a growing and ever more appreciative audience. When Ciarán's mother visited Hong Kong, in 1970, she was introduced to a lady who said she loved to listen to Midday Prayers. “I'm not a Catholic”, she said, “but I asked my Pastor, and he said it was all right to listen to Fr Kane”. Forty-three years later, at Ciarán's funeral, a gentleman came to say that he had listened regularly for twenty-two years, and that, spiritually, the prayers had helped him greatly. He had taken notes from them, which he still used, he said, and he spoke of the programmes as part of “Fr. Kane's spiritual legacy”. His one regret was that he had missed the first few years, because he had not known about the broadcasts then, but he had got in touch with Ciarán personally, and, over the years, had met him regularly to talk about spiritual matters. Another of Ciarán's friends, and a former colleague, expressed a keen interest in helping to publish those programmes, or a selection from them, either in book form or on disk. It is hoped that this may indeed be possible. In the course of time, “Midday Prayers” became “Morning Prayers”, and by August 1994, Ciarán had presented these programmes more than 2700 times.

There were other broadcasts, too. Still in the 1960s, he broadcast a series of programmes on English cathedrals, called “Sounds in Stone”. Later, in the series he called “Kyrie” he introduced sacred music, as well as the spoken word. “Kyrie” was hugely successful, and reached the highest audience ratings of any English-language programmes on Radio 4. Another popular series was called “Gloria”, and he also, for a number of years, presented sacred music for Advent and Christmas. Besides all this, in 1969, he was elected Chairman of the Religious Broadcasting and Television Advisory Committee for Radio-Television Hong Kong - RTHK He was also a member of the Sacred Music Commission in the Diocese of Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the Jesuits, along with the Maryknoll Sisters, had taken the initiative of providing a new Student Hostel, Adam Schall Residence, in United College, in the Chinese University of Hong Kong, at Shatin in the New Territories. The residence opened in 1971 with Ciarán as its first Director. That new position brought with it new possibilities, and also new tasks, in liaising with people on various levels, whether students, administrators, academics or higher management. The tiny Jesuit community at Adam Schall was international, consisting of at most three men of as many different nationalities. Ciarán enjoyed his work there, and created an atmosphere in which the students' work flourished. Ciaran celebrated Mass each morning, and found himself acting as what he himself termed "the unofficial Catholic Chaplain' at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

At Adam Schall, he also kept up his interest in music. He sang with the Hong Kong Philharmonic chorus and with the Bach Choir. His voice had an unusually wide range, so that he could sing with the basses as well as with the baritones and the tenors. He even discovered, though, as he said himself, it was a bit too late to be useful, that he could sing falsetto.

In 1994, at the close of the academic year, Ciarán retired from United College. He took a sabbatical year, which he spent, for the first semester, at Boston College, and then in spiritual renewal at St. Beuno's in Wales. On his return to Hong Kong, in 1995, Ciarán was assigned, as assistant to the Parish Priest, to the new parish church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the district of Chai Wan, which the Jesuits had undertaken to run. Again, it was a new sphere of work, with new possibilities, especially where the Liturgy was concerned. Typically, he embraced the task, and quickly made an impact, as well as many new friends. This assignment was also an opportunity for him to get to know better some of his Irish Jesuit confrères, from whom he had been somewhat isolated during his twenty-two years in Shatin. After six years of parish work in Chai Wan, Ciarán returned to Cheung Chau, and Xavier House, where his life in Hong Kong had begun. Tasked with heading up a renewed Centre of Ignatian Spirituality there, he had first to undertake extensive renovation and rebuilding of part of the house itself. This meant that he had also to fund-raise, a task which brought him back into contact with at least one Old Belvederian, who had 'made it good' globally, and visited Hong Kong on a regular basis. In the task of renovating Xavier House, he also had scope for using his artistic flair, and he enjoyed collaborating with the project's architect, in creating and furnishing new spaces for prayer, both indoors and in the gardens, as well as ensuring that the rooms for retreatants and staff were more than just basically fit for purpose.

Ciarán's return to Cheung Chau coincided with the onset of illness. This began with a heart attack in Manila, in the year 2000, a degenerative condition in the spine about two years later, which made walking somewhat difficult, a diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2006 and leukaemia in 2007. Characteristically, he took it all in his stride – literally, it might be said, because he continued to come and go, up the steps or by the longer pathway between the ferry-port and Xavier House, sometimes more than once in the day. He was meticulous about taking his medicines at the correct times and the correct intervals, but otherwise, he did not allow his condition to interfere with his life, and would not even speak of it except in response to a direct question. He continued to broadcast on RTHK Radio 4, and to participate in the musical life of Hong Kong. In his last series of programmes on Radio, entitled “Oratorio”, he presented extracts from most of the best-known titles, as well as many that had scarcely been noticed before.

In 2010, he was presented with a 'Veteran Broadcaster award, and he continued to plan and work on new ideas for programmes for Radio, the medium he liked best. His last stage appearance was in January 2012, when he read excerpts from the gospels of Luke and Mark, in a performance over two evenings of Bach's solo cello concertos, entitled “Words of Christ in the music of Bach”.

In recent years Ciarán was able to return to Dublin for one month in the Summer, usually June. It was a break to which he looked forward eagerly, because it gave him the opportunity to meet and catch up with news of his friends, Old Belvederians, colleagues and cousins. He particularly looked forward to meeting for an annual lunch with the men who had entered the Noviciate with him. He also made sure that he met up with all his many cousins, and was delighted to have an excuse to travel to Cork or to Connemara. Travelling, going on pilgrimage - to Japan or to Spain - were the mature version, in his later years, of the cycling trips that had taken him, in his youth, over every possible road - or so it seemed to his family - that could be traversed in either Dublin or Wicklow

On his last visit to Dublin, in June 2012, it was obvious that Ciarán's health was relentlessly deteriorating. In September, he was airlifted from Cheung Chau to hospital in Hong Kong. There were tests, and more tests, in four different hospitals, over the months of October and November, in between which he stayed at Ricci Hall. Finally, on 17th December, he was admitted to the PYN Eastern Hospital. He celebrated his 80th birthday in hospital, on 28th December. That week, which included Christmas, he was undergoing radiation treatment daily for pain relief, but he still smiled for the cameras of all those who came to visit him, and they were many.

Towards the end of the eight weeks of his final stay in hospital, Ciarán was not always able to respond to visitors, but they continued to come. Some simply came and went. One group, and one individual friend, sang to him. Some came and wept, and went away again. As his sister, there was nowhere else I wanted to be other than by his bedside, in those last weeks. “I know that the Lord is calling me”, he told me, “and I want to go, but I can't. It is all a great mystery”. He received Holy Communion for the last time on Monday 4th February. Next day, peacefully, serenely, he was able to answer the Lord's call.

Eileen Kane

◆ The Belvederian, Dublin, 2013

A Missionary in Hong Kong

The following is an article written by Fr Ciaran Kane RIP (OB 1950) in 2012 :

Being a missionary anywhere today is very different from what it was 50 years ago, when I first arrived in Hong Kong. Both the world and the church have changed so much. For the church, a richer understanding of what 'mission' means, and that the idea of 'mission' is a call to all Christians. For the world, the onset of globalization has brought peoples and cultures into closer contact and mutual influence and interdependence.

In the past, more than today, being a missionary implied coming from a faraway place bringing a set of beliefs, practices and values that were 'foreign' to the people you came to serve. Whether admired or reviled, the missionary had a distinctive status with his or her people. But global communications, international travel, studying and service abroad, and the shrinking of our world have now levelled the ground, and, I think, integrated the missionary more into the local church and society.

So, for me being a missionary today is a consciousness of serving the universal church, the international body of Christ, people of many races and places. As a Jesuit my specific mission is a ministry that involves me with Catholics and other Christians, local Chinese and foreign residents, working with men and women, young and old, religious and lay, married and single - in short a microcosm of the universal church. But it's also important for me as a citizen of this city to be concerned about society as a whole, about the social milieu in which I live and work, and to give witness to a Christian presence in civic and cultural life. I hope I can be a useful instrument in the Lord's vineyard.

Fr Ciaran Kane SJ

Ladányi, László, 1914-1990, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1553
  • Person
  • 14 January 1914-23 September 1990

Born: 14 January 1914, Diósgyőr, Borsod, Miskolc, Hungary
Entered: 30 July 1936, Hungariae Province (HUN)
Ordained: 08 June 1946, Shanghai, China
Professed: 15 August 1952
Died: 23 September 1990, Canossa Hospital, Hong Kong - Sinensis Province (CHN)

Part of the Ricci Hall, Hong Kong community at the time of death

Transcribed HUN to ExOr; Applied ExOR to HK 1950
by 1949 came to Ricci Hall, Hong Kong (HIB) working 1949-1967

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Veteran China Watcher
Father Laszlo Ladányi Dies

Father Laszlo Ladányi S.J., veteran China watcher died of lung cancer on 23 September 1990 at the Canossa Hospital, Hong Kong, aged 76 years.

Laszlo Ladányi was born in Hungary in 1914. He later graduated from the University of Budapest and he also received training in the violin at the Music Academy in Budapest. He entered the Society of Jesus at the age of 22 and arrived in Beijing, China in 1939. He was later transferred to Shanghai where he was ordained to the priesthood in 1946. In mid 1949, Fr. Ladányi came to Hong Kong and was appointed chaplain to university students at the Ricci Hall.

In 1953 Fr. Ladányi founded the China News Analysis (CNA) in Hong Kong, a weekly and later a fortnightly newsletter. Ever since then, he worked as Editor to this publication for the following 30 years. The main purpose of the CNA is to keep missionary circles informed of Mainland China’s developments. The CNA is widely subscribed by those who are interested in the Mainland China affairs.

In 1982, the editorship of the China News Analysis was passed over to the present team of Jesuit priests, but Fr. Ladnay was still deeply engaged in his China studies up to the time he was admitted to Hospital last month.

The funeral took place at 10am on 26 September with a Mass of the Resurrection concelebrated by his Jesuit confreres and friends at St. Margaret’s Church, Happy Valley, Hong Kong. He was buried in the St. Michael’s Catholic Cemetery.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 5 October 1990

In Memory of Father Laszlo Ladany, S.J.

On 23 September 1990, 9:35am, our beloved Father Ladányi left this world. My mother phoned me from Hong Kong, weeping, and informed me about his death. As soon as the news came, the Chinese Catholics in America passed the information round and all expressed their affection and remembrance of him, as well as their sorrow and prayer for him…

Father Ladányi was a Hungarian, ordained priest in China in 1946. When he was a missionary in China, he already had deep love for China. After mainland China was taken over by the Communists, he was expelled and sent to Hong Kong. He always wanted to be near China and so he stayed in Hong Kong and began his work there. Diligently, spending 40 years as one day, he studied the problem of China with total dedication. In this way, he worked silently for the Church in China to the end of his life.

He was an outstanding political observer. He had a unique understanding of the problem of China. No one could match him for penetrating understanding, foresight, the depth and width of his study in the problem of China. He was a gifted writer, scholar and commentator. He wrote many analyses about China and the present and past situation of the Church in China. His sources made his information very accurate, looking at the question from every angle and written with simple precision so that his Analysis became an essential source of information for others and had much authority. All the Embassies bought and used his China News Analysis for reference. Libraries throughout the world have his writings, which are of the greatest historical value.

But, we are not only commemorating his outstanding work or his life, but paying tribute to his heart which really understood, loved and sympathised with the Church in China - this heart was precious as gold and as bright and crystal-clear as water. This is what we most cherish today and find most worthy of remembrance. His clear and firm stand-point and views always harmonised with the spirit of the faithful Church in China. His sense of Justice, experience and solid knowledge of the facts, moved him to speak from a sense of Justice. He never left anything unsaid which he knew could be said and he always said everything without fear of human respect. He worked with dedication and spoke up for the faithful Church in China. His heart beat as one with the faithful Church in China. He was the intimate companion of the faithful Church in China, and the good understanding teacher and friend of the faithful Church in China.

In the 1950’s the Catholic Church in mainland China was severely crushed. Bishop Kung of Shanghai was arrested. Many priests and Catholics were imprisoned. Only a few Catholic had the chance to flee abroad. It was he, the good shepherd, who organised these exiled sheep, cared for them, gave them guidance in their spiritual life and helped them to keep their faith. When the Trappist Monastery in Yang Jai-ping was persecuted, some of the monks fled to Hong Kong. It was he, their spiritual brother, who consoled them and later helped them to build the monastery and restore their community life.

When my younger sister became very sick in Shanghai Prison, she was allowed to leave the prison for medical treatment and died a year later. It was father Ladányi who crossed to Kowloon during the night to console my sorrowful parents. It was he who always opened wide his arms to embrace with affection the suffering Chinese Catholics. In his simple office, he used to talk intimately with these exiled faithful so that they might enjoy the warmth of a family spirit.

When I arrived Hong Kong in 1979, I carried within myself all the wounds as well as a loving memory of the faithful Church in China. He said to me; “Write it down! Write it down as soon as possible!” I said reluctantly, “I have been imprisoned for so long, I don’t know how to write freely. Also, I have no experience in writing.” He said very earnestly: “Write! When you begin to write, as you go along, you will discover how to write!” So with his encouragement, I finished writing the book entitled “Catholic Children in the Labour Camp” within half a year.

I visited him in his office a number of times, listening to all he had to say. He spoke Mandarin perfectly, sometimes mixed with a few sentences of Cantonese. There was no difference of nationality between us. Sometimes when I saw him two hands trembling because of his sickness, I wanted to give him a helping hand but he always made every effort to arrange everything himself. Sometimes when I saw his desk was in disorder and wanted to put in order for him, he would said, “Not necessary. I am accustomed to it.” Yes, even if your desk was disordered, this would not affect your clear mind and thinking, nor your keen eye-sight. His tall, thin frame conveyed an impression of profound wisdom. His ageing face expressed the warm affection of his heart. It would not be easy to find another good missionary like him, an understanding priest!

Good-bye, Father Ladányi! Best wishes for your journey. The memory of you will never fade from our hearts. But now, your long journey, this important long journey, has made us in this world, think so much of you and your life.

You are another Father Lebbe, the glory of missionaries. May you still continue from Heaven, to protect the Church in China. Bless our faithful brothers and sisters who are still suffering now, who are crushed to the ground and are not understood! Bless those who are exiled in other countries, waiting for the mercy of God to re-establish the Church in China.
By Ho Hoi-ling from America
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 9 November 1990

◆ 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 a scholar who published many articles and books which include :
“The Catholic Church in China” (Freedom Press, New York 1987); “The Communist Part of China and Marxism : A Self-Portrait” (Hoover Institute Press, Stanford, 1988); “Law and Legality in China : The Testament of a China-Watcher” (Hurst, London, 1992).

His books are scholarly and influential to the study of modern and contemporary China.

Note from Alan Birmingham Entry
He was the Editor of the “Sunday Examiner” for almost 33 years (1957-1991). For more than twenty years he edited the English writings of László Ladányi in the “China News Analysis”

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 64 : Easter 1991
Jurgen Domes

For several decades, Hungarian Jesuit Fr Laszlo Ladany edited in Hong Kong his China News Analysis: the publication attempted, by comparing different versions of official reports, by noting omissions and changes, to outline the true trajectory of events within China. He died on 23rd September, 1990, and is recalled in a commemorative issue of the periodical (kindly sent by Michel Massan, S.J.).

Robert Elegant, journalist, writes:
He was very proud and fiercely defensive of his work. He had contempt for journalists who rewrote his reports under their own names. Still, he had pity for those, sometimes the same individuals, who could not make the intellectual and imaginative jump that would enable them to see what was happening in China with the same clarity he did.

That incapacity was particularly marked during the Cultural Revolution, which, as we later discovered, outdid in horror even our most daring reports. Nonetheless only four professional China Watchers came close to the true story: Laszlo Ladany in the van; Burton Levin of the American Foreign Service, later Ambassador to Burma; Knobby Clark of the Regional Information Office; and myself with Ladany's guidance. Almost everyone else first believed that Chairman Mao Zedong had everything under control - and later refused to believe the enormity of the cataclysm.

Simone de Beauvoir called him “a fanatic anti-communist full of hatred”. After many accusations in the same vein, Han Suyin eventually remembered him as her “Hong Kong Jesuit Friend”, “tall and dignified and admirably versed in Chinese”, “owner of uncommon intellect” who spoke “with eloquence and restraint” and had “humour, zest and knowledge”.

For the many sycophants and apologists of totalitarian communist dictatorship in American and West European Contemporary China Studies, he was hardly quotable. They tried to ignore him as much as possible. But for all of us who ventured the attempt to develop a distanced and sober view of the Peoples' Republic of China, he had assumed an unprecedented prestige as a China scholar. Indeed he was the dean of the international trade which observes contemporary politics in the Peoples Republic of China.

With Fr. Ladany, we lose a brilliant analyst, a steadfast Christian, and warm-hearted friend.

For almost forty years of continuous observation of the developments on the Chinese mainland, thirty years of which were dedicated to the regular publication of China News Analysis, he succeeded in submitting, with very few exceptions, a correct and precise picture of the Peoples' Republic of China as well as projections of her future perspectives which have proven much more often right than wrong. When thinking back, we remember that he was the first among the very few observers who, at that time, realized that the “Great Leap Forward” resulted in economic chaos, and in the greatest famine in this century. In January 1967, he suggested that the military leaders in the provinces were the men to watch in the following years. And in his last conceptual January edition of China News Analysis entitled “Deja Vu”, he drew the first comparison between the developing features of communist collapse and the final years of Kuomintang rule on the Chinese mainland.

What made him so correct in his descriptions and so reliable in his analysis? Three observations provide the answer to this question. First, he knew China and the Chinese very well. His sovereign command of Chinese among altogether eight languages which he spoke fluently gave him access to all available sources including the extremely important interviews with recent refugees from the Peoples' Republic of China. Second, he had a firm and deep understanding of Marxism-Leninism. Philosophically trained, he had developed the ability to divest the communist ideology of its fallacious prophecies and to penetrate the rosy fog of the doctrine to unveil the realities of totalitarian rule. Third, he had a deep compassion for humanity, for the joys, trials and tribulations which affect human beings everywhere in the world.

These three elements produced his unique analytical approach, the method of qualitative content analysis which is based on rigid and uncompromising Textkritik.

But apart from his fundamental contribution to the understanding of China, he was also a wonderful person. While never propagandizing his Christian beliefs in a patronizing manner, his life as a Christian has been convincing for many and decisive for some.

Hence, we have lost a great scholar and a passionate man. Hong Kong changed, and the international community of China specialists changed when God called him. It is a small consolation in this moment of grief that Fr Ladany could still be alive when his Hungarian motherland was liberated from Communism.

McGovern, Patrick T, 1920-1984, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/288
  • Person
  • 28 October 1920-30 September 1984

Born: 28 October 1920, Leinster Street, Dublin City, County Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1938, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1953, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1980
Died: 30 September 1984, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong - Macau-Hong Kong Province (MAC-HK)

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966

Father was a Civil Servant and family lived at Iona Road, Glasnevin, Dublin.

Youngest in a family of five with two brothers and two sisters.

Early education was at the Christian Brothers and National schools, he then went to Belvedere College SJ.

by 1948 at Hong Kong - Regency

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Death of Father McGovern, S.J.
Happiness through Love of All

Father Patrick Terence McGovern, SJ, member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, died almost suddenly after a heart attack in Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, in the morning of Sunday, 30 September 1984, aged 64.

He was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 28 October 1920. At the end of his secondary schooldays he felt himself internally called to the priesthood and the religious life. The call was not altogether welcome. He was enjoying the freedoms of early manhood to the full and had no wish to exchange them for the restraints of noviceship and scholastic life. After a severe struggle he listened to God’s call and entered the Irish Jesuit novitiate on 7 September 1938. He need not have worried. He accepted the foreseen restraints and duties of Jesuit life, but within these limits, he was to enjoy life to the full to the end of his days.

The happiness of a consecrated life is founded ultimately on love of God, trust in Him and zeal for His glory. There can, however, be supplementary helps. Father McGovern’s supplementary help was an ability to like very deeply the people he worked with or for. He liked the young men who came to him for temporary help and remained his friends for life. He made many lasting friends in his few years in Malaysia. He liked the soldiers he met as an acting chaplain in Malaysia and remained always rather prosodies. He liked, quite exceptionally, the young men with whose aid he founded the Industrial Relations Institute. When he was appointed to the Legislative Council he expected to be a fish out of water, but he soon found himself in the swim; he valued the immediate and continuing friendliness of his reception and he soon came to have a high regard for the hard work done by his fellow members and their devotion to the welfare of Hong Kong.

The early years of what was to be an usual life for an Irish Jesuit were notable in only two ways: he came to Hong Kong in 1947; then, instead of doing the customary period of teaching after language study, he received permission to go to North America for social studies - strong aspirations were already stirring.

He was ordained priest in Ireland on 31 July 1953, and returned to Hong Kong in 1955. The following decade was devoted to school work, with a few years of pastoral work and army chaplaincy in Malaysia. His interest in social work, however, remained keen. He worked for various voluntary agencies and in 1965 he became director of the Caritas Social Centre, Kennedy Town.

In 1968, with the help of a group of workers, he founded the Industrial Relations Institute (IRI) to train workers “for participation in free, strong responsible trade unionism” and to help them to recognize the dignity of their work. He remained director of the IRI for only a few years. As soon as the workers themselves were ready to take over, he resigned the directorship, but he retained a deep interest in the work of the IRI and a deep affection for those who were running it.

Meanwhile he had become a regular broadcaster of five-minute social comments on Radio Hong Kong. These comments were listened to, for he had no objection to being provocative.

One of his listeners apparently was Sir Murray Maclehose, then Governor of Hong Kong. Sir Murray invited Father McGovern to transfer his provocative comments to the chamber of the Legislative Council. Before long, Father McGovern made minor history by arriving on a motor bicycle for his first attendance as a Legislative Councilor.

He and Mr. Andrew So, appointed at the same time, were generally recognised as unofficial spokesmen for the workers and the underdogs of Hong Kong. Their speeches at open sessions bore this out fully.

Father McGovern was an exact observer of confidentiality. Even his closest friends knew nothing of what went on at closed sessions and preparatory meetings, or of what modifications he succeeded in introducing into legislation. His friends did know, however, that he was happy in his work and that he was not a man to be satisfied unless he was accomplishing something.

The high point of his official work came when, valiantly but unavailingly, he led the opposition to the amendment of the Abortion Bill.

In his last days, Father McGovern was deeply involved in the heavy round of official duties attendant upon the initialing of the Sino-British Declaration. Did this heavy work shorten his life? No one can say.

Yet these were not his last public acts. On the evening before his death he was asked to open the new premises of the IRI, and he came home that evening full of happy confidence that this was the beginning of expansion for his favourite work. Next morning he was dead.

At all the Sunday Masses celebrated that morning, before and after his death, prayer was offered that we may “wake up to our social responsibility.” It was a fitting accompaniment to the death of one who had devoted his life and his energies to accomplishing that awakening.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 5 October 1984

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
His early education was at Belvedere College SJ in Dublin before he entered the Society.

During the 1950s he was sent to the USA to study Trade Union Movements. So, in 1968 in Hong Kong he set up an Institute for trade union leaders, so that when McLehose became Governor, he was appointed an unofficial member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. Among other things he brought in compulsory holidays for workers, and also on some public holidays.

He was the founder of the Industrial Relations Institute - a training and information Centre for trade union workers. he was also Director of Caritas Social centre in Kennedy Town. His most notable interventions were on housing policy, workers protection, taxation, abortion and education.

He was awarded an OBE for his contribution to his work in Hong Kong.

Note from Tommy Byrne Entry
During his term as Provincial (1947-1963) he sent many Jesuits to Hong Kong, and then in 1951 he started the Irish Jesuit Mission to Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). He also saw the needs in Singapore and Malaysia and sent Jesuits to work there - like Kevin O’Dwyer, who built St Ignatius Church in Singapore; Patrick McGovern who built St Francis Xavier Church in Petaling Jaya, and also Liam Egan, Gerard (Geoffrey?) Murphy and Tom Fitzgerald.

Note from Paddy Joy Entry
According to Fr Patrick McGovern “Fr Joy was a great man..... his virtue was that although he was an intellectual heavyweight, he stepped so lightly through this morass of problems that no toe was trod on. On the contrary, wounds and hurts, both personal and canonical were bound up so deftly that the cured patients not only improved relations with one another, but in the process of being helped gave their universal and unstinting respect to the man who did the helping. He became the focus of a vast diversity, and from all sides won confidence, respect and affection”.

Note from Thomas Ryan Entry
He sent young Jesuits to work on social activities there - Patrick McGovern and Kevin O’Dwyer

Note from Jimmy Hurley Entry
He became the Hong Kong SELA representative in 1979, succeeding Patrick McGovern.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 59th Year No 4 1984


Fr Patrick McGovern (1920-1938-1984) (Macau-Hong Kong)

(Notes from material supplied by Fr Socius, Macau-Hong Kong:)

Fr McGovern died in Wah Yan College, 281 Queen's road East, Hong Kong, at 8.30 am on Sunday, 20th September. He had been coughing during the night, and at 7.30 called Fr Richard McCarthy to say that he was not feeling well and would like to see Irish Columban Sr Gabriel, a medical doctor attached to the Ruttonjee sanatorium. She came promptly with another doctor, Sr Aquinas. They saw that Fr McGovern's condition was serious and called an ambulance. Fr McGovern was anointed by Fr McGaley, but by the time the ambulance arrived he was already dead. He had had a heart attack some months earlier, and since then had twice been operated on for a growth in his left arm.
The newspapers, radio and television reported the death, and on the Tuesday morning (2nd October) the two English-language newspapers, South China Morning Post and Standard, carried editorials on Fr McGovern. The funeral Mass was celebrated in St Margaret's Church, Broadwood Road, Happy Valley. The chief celebrant was the Provincial, Fr Liam Egan, assisted by Archbishop Tang of Canton and Fr Enaudi, one of the Hong Kong Vicars General (the Bishop was away attending a meeting in Rome). Fr Enaudi gave the blessing after the Mass and Archbishop Tang recited the prayers at the graveside. Among the were the acting Chief Secretary, Mr Dennis Bray; the Attorney-General, Mr Michael Thomas; and the and Secretary for Security, Mr David Jeaffreson.
Fr Patrick McGovern: born in Dublin, 28th October 1920, 1926-32 primary school St Patrick's, Drumcondra. 1932-38 secondary school Belvedere. 1938-40 Emo, noviciate. 1940-43 Rathfarnham, juniorate. 1943-46 Tullabeg, philosophy. 1946-47 Milltown, completing academic studies (BA from NUI). 1947-49 Canton, learning Cantonese, 1949-50 Los Angeles (Loyola University) studying sociology and industrial relations. 1950-54 Milltown, theology. 1954-'5 Rathfarnham, tertianship. To Hong Kong.
Of the 29 remaining years in which he served the Hong Kong mission, four he spent overseeing and raising funds for the building of the church and hostel in Petaling Jaya. The remainder he spent in Ricci Hall (11 years), Wah Yan, Hong nearby Kong (9 years). Wah Yan, Kowloon (4 up years), and Cheung Chau (1 year). From the catalogues his most frequent assignments seem to have been with the Industrial Relations Institute, as promoter/director/counsellor (for 16 years); minister, and teacher/lecturer especially in sociology. About 1977 he became a member of Hong Kong's Legislative Council (abbreviated to Legco), and about 1980 also of the Executive Council (abbreviated to Exco). These two bodies advise the Governor in his work of ruling the territory. About 1982 he ceased to be a member of Exco but continued as a member of Legco till his death.

South China Morning Post editorial, 2nd October 1984:
Good and faithful servant
The Roman Catholic Church has in mourners recent years often found itself in a dilemma in pursuing the rights of the common man. That it has been in the fray of social activism is unquestioned and while many a politician may have had cause to wish, like Henry II, to be rid of some turbulent priest, the state has learned to accept the Church's more militant stance. Hong Kong heard on Sunday with profound sadness of the death of Father Patrick McGovern, an Irishman of deep sensitivity, with a fine sense of social justice and a gift for rhetoric and wit that seems to be a mark of divine approval in those who hail from the emerald isle. Remarkably, it took a churchman to shake the conscience of the Government and Legislative Council on occasions far too numerous to recall, and it is fair to say that Legco would not have been the same without him. It is worth adding, that he and another cleric, the Rev Joyce Bennett, between them, provided the sharpest edges to the Unofficials criticisms in recent years, And in doing so, they gave a good example to younger members.
Father McGovern was ever the champion of the underdog and the working man. And his Irish background no doubt stood him in good stead, for no nation felt the yoke of its neighbour's domination and the bitterness of poverty and hardship like the Irish.
Yet Father McGovern was ever the gentle and courteous rebel who carried his convictions with a mixture of tolerance and tenacity that enabled him to win friends at every level of society. He was not averse to riding a motor scooter to Lower Albert Road, proudly displaying a Legco badge, though he graduated to a small Japanese car in later years.
Not content with sitting in Legco he was elevated for a time to Executive Council where no doubt he played the part of Devil's Advocate with relish. He will be sorely missed and certainly the pages of Hong Kong's last years will be embellished by some of his deft and darting prose. Many in Hong Kong will join in saying, well done, good and faithful servant.

Irish Province News 60th Year No 1 2 1985


Fr Patrick McGovern (M-HK)
(† 30th September 1984)

(Cf. IPN, October 1984, where the date of Fr McG's death was wrongly transcribed as 20th. The following appreciation was copied from Macau-Hong Province Letter no. 263 (10: 1984), which devotes almost six pages to him:)
Paddy was a very remarkable Jesuit for the diversity of his interests and the range of his activities in very different fields.
It would be hard to find a priest who was more devoted to the defence of the church and the spread of the Kingdom than he was. He liked preaching and his hearers liked his sermons which were eloquent, instructive and interesting without being too long. Most Sundays he celebrated Mass in one or other of the parish churches or convents in the neighbourhood and usually heard confessions also. One of the last things that he did on the Sunday when God called him to Himself was to ensure that somebody stood in for him to celebrate the Mass he was to have said in a nearby church. He often said that the most fruitful and enjoyable years of his life were those he spent in Malaysia in pastoral work and where he collected the greater part of the money that went to build our parish church in Petaling Jaya. During this time he was also a part-time chaplain to the armed forces which had suppressed the communist insurrection in that country.
His work among the soldiers made him sympathetic and understanding, and led him to see the basic goodness of men who are not remarkable for their piety: he often spoke about this.
Paddy was deeply attached to the Society and had a healthy interest in all its apostolates. When he concelebrated with the brethren (something he did whenever he could) he seldom failed to pray for the welfare of the Society and for vocations. On his appointment to the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, which he accepted in the hope that as a member he would have greater scope to work for the under-privileged and workers, he said openly that without the support of the Society he could never have taken office.
He cherished community life and many of us during recreation enjoyed his presence as much as we miss his wit and good humour now. There were two things that he detested: cynicism and isolation. He seldom spoke harshly to others or of others but did not suffer fools gladly. A favourite topic of his during recreation was theology, and though he tended to
be conservative without being dogmatic, he was keenly interested in new movements in that field. He often said that when he "retired" and had the time to do so he had a great amount of reading to catch up with. During recreation while he listened carefully to what others had to say about the government and its policies, he was always very scrupulous not to divulge any confidential knowledge he might have had. Paddy had very varied interests. He could cook well when occasion required his doing so, and during his last year he would often
spend the better part of the late evening baking brown bread for the community; the result wasn't at all bad. But his dearest hobby was gardening and the cultivation of flowers and flowering shrubs. In his earlier years in the Society a member of the team of he was scholastics which constructed and planted beautiful rock gardens in Tullabeg and Milltown park. The bank of azaleas which now forms a pleasant contrast to the nauseating green exterior of Ricci Hall is the work of his hands - his also was the choice of colour for the exterior of Ricci Hall: 'spring green' he called it. The verandah outside his room in Wah Yan, the room in which he died, was a veritable shrubbery so many were the potted plants it housed. All these things go to show how he loved nature and its creator.
The Society expects its members to be well acquainted with the social teaching of the Church. Paddy made a study of the social encyclicals in some depth and used them extensively in his speeches in the Legislative Council, without giving explicit quotations. In his economic think-ing he had as little time for the Manchester School as he had for Marxism, and he was more than sceptical of the method of Marxist social analysis. His great interest was the betterment of the living conditions of the little man which he envisaged as his role in government by way of promoting faith and justice. This he will be remembered for by all who knew him.
There are numerous other things that could be said about him but there is one last remark that cannot be omitted. The Society in Hong Kong has traditionally set great store by hospitality, and during the years that he was Minister in three different communities Paddy always went out of his way to make guests feel welcome and at home. Not only that, but whenever he had the time he would take visitors on a sight-seeing tour of the territory by car and enjoy the outing as much as his guests. May the good Lord give him eternal rest.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 35 : Christmas 1984

Letter : Harold Naylor

Dear Editor,

When the sudden death of Fr. Patrick McGovern was announced on the morning of Sunday the 30th of September, two visiting Jesuits (from Manila and London) showed uneasiness, when they heard he had been a legislative councillor. No doubt they were thinking of the case of Ferdinand Cardenale in Nicaragua, and other cases of Jesuits being asked to step down from politics. I would like to give my opinion on the matter.

The spokesman of the Hong Kong Diocese, Fr. Michael Yeung, was quoted in the press as saying that Fr. McGovern “had been dedicated to social service throughout his life. There had never been an imbalance between his social service and his missionary work”. The Bishop was pleased with this work, as was the Provincial and the other Jesuits in Hong Kong. At his funeral, there were forty Jesuits priests, together with a great number of other priests: Italian PIME, American Maryknollers, French MEP, Salesians, Vincentians, Franciscans and Chinese Diocesans.

Fr. Liam Egan presided at the Requiem Mass, Fr. Einaudi (Vicar General) at the Last Absolution, and Archbishop Tang, S.J. at the Last Blessing at the graveside. All felt that the Church had lost a strong voice in civic matters and a powerful force in social and educational work. Some of his peers were at the funeral - people with whom he had worked for years in the legislative chamber and the back room. They included the Chief of Police and the heads of the Education, Legal Affairs and Economic Services Departments, as well as other civic leaders from the manufacturing, banking, legal and other professions.

John Swaine, an unofficial councillor, said: “He was able to inject a sense of conscience into our discussions, so that we looked beyond the mere text of policies and legislature to the human realities underneath”. That could sum up the thrust of his life: the use of his verbal skills to put the case of the common man before the executive and legislative branches of the administration.

Social issues and labour were his field. Since he was appointed to the Legislative Council in 1978, by the then Governor, Sir Murray MacLehose, he had systematically brought in labour legislature. “Paid Holidays” were first introduced through him, then rules on working conditions and compensation benefits. He was largely responsible for defeating the government's move to shelve the Llewelynn Report on fundamental education reform, and made history in 1983 by being the first “unofficial” to reverse a government decision.

He scored his first major success in settling the threatened strike of prison warders in 1975, much to the delight of the warders. After the riots of '76, he set up his Industrial Relations Institute (IRI) and actually died the day after being present at the opening of its new premises. He had served on the Government Salaries Revision Commission and on innumerable commissions against corruption, narcotics and many other issues of daily life in Hong Kong. His last contribution was the inclusion in the Sino-British Agreement (Sept. 1984) of the freedom of association of workers and of their right to strike.

How did all this happen? Well, it could be traced back to Fr. T.F. Ryan, who, when Superior of the Mission in 1948, decided that Paddy, who had been studying Cantonese in Canton till then, should not teach in the Colleges, but rather go to the USA to study the Labour Movement and social questions. He did so in 1949 and then went to Milltown for Theology. Returned as a priest in 1955, he taught English, History and Religious Knowledge in Wah Yan Hong Kong for two years, before going to Malaysia for two years. It was there that he felt the realisation of the ideals of his priesthood. Part-time Armed Forces Chaplain, he was always saying Mass for young adults, instructing young men in the Faith and helping to build the church in Petaling Jaya. He returned to Hong Kong to be Spiritual Father to the boys in Wah Yan until he became Director of the Caritas Social Service Centre in Kennedy Town in 1965. He stayed there until he founded the Industrial Relations Institute.

He had the distinction of being taken off the air" by the Governor, David Trench, who took offence at his provocative social comments on radio in 1965.

An unconventional man, he made history by turning up at the Legislative Council on his Vespa whilst the other councillors arrived in their chauffeur-driven cars. Later he used a small Japanese car. He dressed casually in an open-necked shirt, though he wore clericals on formal occasions.

In June 1984, Fr. Paddy was the only one to speak in Council against the lifting of rent controls: “Speculators are nursing their burnt fingers in kid gloves, but they are a hardy lot and have proved before that they can make a quick recovery at the sight of a possible cure or another quick buck”.

St. Ignatius recommended that we adapt ourselves to “time, place and person”. Hong Kong is a unique place and stands at a crucial moment in its history. It has just lost a brilliant spokesman for the worker and the ordinary person. He died without an enemy, even after eight years of public life. I feel that his death was like that of a singer at the last bar of his song.

Yours etc.,

Harold Naylor, S.J., 56 Waterloo Road, Hong Kong.

◆ The Belvederian, Dublin, 1985


Father Paddy McGovern SJ

“The hard nut from Iona Road”, was how we first heard of him. For the lively nature of Fr Patrick Terence McGovern SJ had caused his fame to spread in the Irish Province even before he was ordained. The ripples spread fore and aft, up and down the age groups. Evidently Ireland's loss was Hong Kong's gain. The following tribute from Harold Naylor SJ draws heavily on comments made by the Hong Kong media.

“UNDERDOG CHAMPION MCGOVERN DIES” was the headline on the front page of SCM Post. On the following day, the day of burial, this daily of 300,000 circulation had an editorial : “GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT”

The coverage in radio and press in English and Chinese showed how much he was appreciated. He had always been good copy for newsmen, for his speeches in the Legislative Council, and comments on social affairs, were striking and 'of great human interest.

He died at the peak of his involvement in civic affairs. The sentence in the Sino-British Agreement, which was signed just a week before he died, had a phrase to the effect “workers will have freedom of association, and also the right to strike”. He had urged for that. However, in the two years that led to the step, he kept silent on the matter.

At his funeral in St Margaret's Church, Fr Foley had spoken of him as the mouth of the voiceless. He had consistently spoken out on the welfare of workers and the people of Hong Kong.

Sir Murray MacLehose had appointed him to the Legislative Council in 1976, for a three year period, The occasion was his hearing him make a provocative social comment on the radio. Some years previously, a former Governor had him taken off Radio Hong Kong, for his social comments during Morning Prayers.

John Swaine, also a civic leader, spoke of his injecting a sense of conscience into our discussions: so that we looked beyond the mere text of policies and legislation, to the human relaties underneath.

Fr. Michael Yeung, spokesman for the Diocese, spoke of him as fulfilling the responsibilities of a Catholic, being throughout his life dedicated to social service. ‘But there had never been an imbalance between his social work and missionary work’.

Enjoying the freedom of early manhood as a schoolboy in Belvedere, he had no wish to exchange them for the restraints of religious life. After a severe struggle, he listened to God's call and became a Jesuit in 1938,

Coming to Hongkong in 1974, he studied Cantonese in Canton. Instead of teaching in Wah Yan, Fr T Ryan sent him to the USA to study the labour movement and social questions. Returned to Hongkong as a priest in 1953, he taught English, History and Religion in Wah Yan College, Hongkong. After two years of priestly work in Kuala Lumpur, which he looked back as his ideal, he returned to Wah Yan College, but became director of Caritas Social Centre, Kennedy Town in 1965.

In 1967, he started the Industrial Relations Institute, and the night before he died, he opened its new premises.

Most of the new labour laws could be traced to his endeavours. The introduction of paid holidays for workers was one of his first acheivements.

He was always speaking and his deft and darting prose was well remembered, usually causing titters of laughter in the solemn debates of the legislative chambers.

In June 1984, he opposed the abolition of rent controls: ‘new speculators are nursing their burnt fingers in kid gloves, but they are a hardy lot and have proved that they can make a quick recovery at the sight of a possible cure of another quick buck’.

A man simple of tastes, he tended his indoor plants and sang simple tunes, He regaled his fellow civic leaders at their dinners with renditions of songs from My Fair Lady, with lyrics changed to reflect social themes.

‘We will miss him’ said the Governor. May his absence make more fully present his ability to like very deeply the people we work with and for, and heighten our social responsibility.

His life was based on a love and trust of God, and zeal for his glory. His training did not lead him to spend his time reading or writing, but rather to speak - and to speak splendidly - about what he saw possible for the welfare of the people of Hongkong. And that started with the common man, the worker and his family. And he did it splendidly, and died without a single enemy,

Harry Naylor SJ

O'Rourke, Patrick, 1924-2003, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/692
  • Person
  • 22 May 1924-17 December 2003

Born: 22 May 1924, Kildimo, County Limerick
Entered: 07 September 1942, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1956, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1982, Hong Kong
Died: 17 December 2003, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966; HK to HIB : 15 September 1992

by 1951 at Hong Kong - Regency

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Father Patrick O’Rourke, SJ

Father Patrick O’Rourke, SJ died rather suddenly but peacefully on 17 December 2003, aged 79 years.

He died, appropriately, in Wah Yan College Hong Kong, where he had lived and taught for 45 years, and in the college chapel, of which he was the prefect in recent years.

In many ways a quiet-spoken man of simple tastes, but coming from a farming background in his native Ireland, he was also shrewd and somewhat skeptical by nature, not suffering fools gladly. He lived very simply, his room was left almost bare.

He possessed a well-developed sense of humour and enjoyed having a good laugh and also causing a good laugh.

A keen sportsman in earlier days, he enjoyed football, playing left-wing and, like many of his students, was a keen fan of Manchester United and latterly played a useful game of tennis in the school yard.

In his 45 years of teaching in Wah Yan College, he certainly taught hundreds, perhaps thousands of boys, in successive generations.

Many of his students returned to their mother school for his funeral Mass on 21 December 2003, presided over by Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun SDB and Bishop John Tong Hon and followed by burial in the Catholic cemetery in Happy Valley.

Just as his patron, St. Patrick, was called by God from being a shepherd boy to bring the Gospel of Christ to the pagan Irish in the 5th century AD, his 20th century namesake, a farmer’s son from Limerick, was also called to devote his long life to offering a sound education and the same Gospel to the Chinese youth of this sophisticated city with its age-old culture and yearnings for the infinite.

May God richly reward this latter day “Mr. Chips” and bring him quickly to Heaven, if he is not already there.

May Father Patrick O’Rourke have many Hong Kong Jesuit successors to continue the Wah Yan tradition into the future. May his gentle soul rest in the peace of Christ!
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 11 January 2004

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
He first came to Hong Kong as a Regent in 1952 to study Cantonese at Cheung Chau. He then returned to Ireland for Theology

1958-1989 He returned to Hong Kong to teach English and religious Knowledge at Wah Yan College Hong Kong and lived there for over 40 years. During this time he also helped with pastoral work on weekends with Sunday Masses, and he was Chaplain to the Hong Kong Volunteers for 20 years.

He was known for his humour and was very popular with his fellow Jesuits.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 123 : Special Issue February 2005


Fr Patrick (Paddy) O’Rourke (1924-2003)

May 22nd 1924: Born in Kildimo, Co. Limerick
Early education at Kildimo National School and Sacred Heart College, The Crescent, Co. Limerick
Sept. 7th 1942: Entered the Society at Emo
1944 - 1947: Studied Arts UCD
1947 - 1950: Tullabeg - Studied Philosophy
1950 - 1952: Hong Kong - Language School
1952 - 1953: Wah Yan College - Regency
1953 - 1957: Milltown Park - Studied Theology
July 31st 1956: Ordained at Milltown Park
1958 - 1959: Tertianship at Rathfamham
1959 - 2003: Wah Yan , Hong Kong - Prefect of the church, Spiritual Director (SJ), Treasurer, Teacher.
Feb. 2nd 1982: Final Vows in Hong Kong
Dec.17th 2003: Died in Hong Kong.

Fr Paddy O'Rourke died in the chapel in his community at Wah Yan College, Hong Kong. His death was completely unexpected. The cause of his death is believed to have been a heart attack. He had been in fair health right to the end. Another member of the community spoke to him on the phone an hour before he died.

Homily preached by Fr. Seán Coghlan on December 21st at a Vigil Mass, the night before his funeral:

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today, instead of speaking about Advent or the fast approaching feast of Christmas I want to share with you some thoughts about Fr. Paddy O'Rourke who died last Wednesday in this chapel and who will be buried from here tomorrow.

Wah Yan College moved from Robinson Road to this site on Mount Parrish in 1955. Fr. O'Rourke took up residence here in August or September 1958 and has lived here ever since. Before his ordination in Ireland he taught for one year in Robinson Road after two years of Cantonese studies in Battery Path. 48 years of Fr. O'Rourke's nearly 80 years of life were spent in Hong Kong, 46 of them in Wah Yan.

He will be remembered by generations of Wah Yan students. Many of you will remember him too. For the last few years of his life his health made it impossible for him to go out for Mass on Sundays. Instead, he looked after this chapel with great care. He was always standing down there at the back of the chapel or hearing Confessions and then he would come up to the altar to help the celebrant distribute Holy Communion.

Fr. O'Rourke taught for most of his life, and even after his retirement he assisted the teachers and students in a wide variety of extra curricular activities. He was Minister of the community for many years. That is, he looked after the material needs of his fellow Jesuits.

He knew where every pipe in the building was. He did the jobs that needed to be done. He was that essential person in a religious community who can be relied on to be around, keeping an eye on things.

Fr. O'Rourke was chaplain to the Hong Kong Regiment (”The Volunteers”). Until quite recently he would offer Sunday Mass and preach in St. Margaret's and St. Jude's Parishes and Christ the King Chapel. Fr. O'Rourke was a good footballer in his younger days and played tennis on Sunday afternoons on the court beside the chapel, just a few yards away from where we are now. His partners were Mr. Frank Yung, Mr. Anthony Ip and Fr. Derek Reid.

He was a simple man but shrewd and somewhat skeptical by nature. He did not get wildly enthusiastic about new ideas but was absolutely reliable in all his commitments. He lived very simply. His room was almost bare. It will be very easy to clean up. Some Jesuit rooms take much time and energy to clean up after the occupant has left us for the Lord. Remember Fr. O' Rourke was 45 years in the some room!

Fr. Deignan was speaking to Fr. O'Rourke's nephew on the phone last Thursday. His nephew said too that he was a very simple man. He was quite content to stay around the old home, wandering about the farm and cycling on the bicycle which is still there. Fr. O'Rourke was very interested in local history. On holidays in Ireland he would visit the local parish churches and look up the publicly available marriage and baptismal registers. He would go to the local government offices and study the title deeds to the local farms and properties. These records stretched back many years.

On one occasion I asked him to look up some details about my family. When I asked him about his findings he said with a twinkle in his eyes. “If I were you I wouldn't look too deeply into the matter, some of the dates are a bit difficult to reconcile”. Fr. O'Rourke was very humorous and enjoyed having a good laugh and causing a good laugh.

Fr. O'Rourke lived in the country. His home was nine or ten miles from the nearest town where there was a Jesuit school, He cycled to school and back home in all kinds of weather. That was hard at times.

When Fr. O' Rourke was in school, Ireland was going through difficult years. It had recently become independent. The economy, nationally and internationally, was bad. Farmers in particular faced difficult problems. But Ireland was a Catholic country. It had a tremendous missionary tradition. Young women and young men like Fr. O' Rourke became priests and nuns and went to bring God's light to many different parts of the would. Fr. O' Rourke was one of those who, despite very difficult economic conditions, received a good education. He was available for God's work.

Now life is very different in Ireland. The economy is booming. But Ireland has not adapted well to prosperity. There is a crisis in the religious life of the people. The number of practicing Catholics has dropped drastically. Vocations to the priesthood and religious life have diminished correspondingly. It has to be said, too, that the Church has not coped well with the crisis. It is a very different scene from the one Fr. O' Rourke was familiar with. I would ask you to pray that God will recall his people to a richer and more mature faith.

I think that Ireland is at one with the rest of the Western world in a certain tiredness and sickness. It seems to lack creativity and imagination in finding spiritual and humane answers to the challenges of a new world.

If one reads the financial and business pages of our newspapers and journals one finds that the experts are divided as to whether India or China will be the great economic force of the world in the not too distant future. Are the countries of the East emerging as the power houses of the world?

Prosperity and a spiritual outlook on life do not always go hand in hand. However, a general awakening and growth in one area of life may be accompanied by a growth in other areas. There is a hunger for spiritual meaning in many Eastern countries. Religious novitiates in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, India and Korea have many candidates. In China there are many young men and women preparing for the priesthood and religious life.

Lay Christians are active and confident. Recently I met a young Hong Kong woman who has already spent seven years with a Catholic refugee service in South East Asia. She is now preparing to commit herself for life to the work. She is one among many lay people from Hong Kong and other parts of Asia who are “on mission” to the world. In God's loving plan the Western world brought his light to the world for many centuries. Could it not now be the tum of the Eastern world to bring spiritual values to a world which thirsts for meaning?

Fr. O'Rourke came from a farming community, fields stretching down to the River Shannon, the hills of Clare rising from the fields on the other side of the river. Now it may be the time for a young man or woman from the green fields of Korea or from one of the immense bustling cities of China to bring God's light to those who long for it.


Homily preached at the Requiem Mass for Fr. O'Rourke by Fr. Robert Ng Chi-fan:

My dear Wah Yan friends,

We have gathered here today to celebrate a Requiem Mass for Fr. Paddy O'Rourke who died last Wednesday. For most of you he was either a teacher, a colleague or a good friend.... Hong Kong people appreciate stability greatly. Fr. O' Rourke was a very stable person indeed! He believed that things shouldn't be changed if they were good, so he stayed in Wah Yan for 45 years and never left it. He lived in the same room for those 45 years and every morning had his breakfast at 6:45. Then he started his day's work. His main responsibility was teaching, especially teaching English. He had his own special way of teaching. For the first few minutes of each class he asked his students to repeat again and again words which could be easily mispelt. Then he would ask them to memorize some proverbs. Fr, O'Rourke was the teacher who helped me most to improve my English. If a student couldn't answer his questions he would poke him with his finger until the right answer came. But he didn't confine himself to helping the students in class. He trained them to take part in English debates and verse-speaking competitions. He continued to do so almost to the very end of his life. Shortly before he died he acted as judge in one of the competitions. It can truly be said that he worked humbly and simply until his death.

Many people can be good teachers but, as a Jesuit and priest, Fr. O'Rourke came to Hong Kong from Ireland to fulfil a further mission. He wanted people to know God. He liked teaching English but he liked teaching religion even more. He gave religious instruction and was spiritual director of a Catholic society. He was very happy when a student was baptized. His apostolate extended beyond the school. He was chaplain to the locally enlisted Hong Kong Regiment (”The Volunteers”) On Sundays he went for many years to St Margaret's Parish and Christ the King Chapel to offer Mass.

As a Jesuit and missionary he was a traditional type. He followed the rules carefully. He was obedient. He led a simple life and was generous in sharing with others. When I was a student I used to see poor people coming up to Wah Yan every Saturday to look for help. It was always Fr. O'Rourke who came downstairs to talk to them and give them some money. For many years he was the Minister of the Jesuit community and as Minister was very willing to share with those in need. In St. Mathew's Gospel Jesus speaks of the criteria for judgment on the Last Day. The criteria are almost exclusively concerned with helping those who need our help. Fr, O'Rourke will get high marks in this area.

Those who know Fr, O'Rourke were well aware of how much he liked football. He played football when he was young. In the 60's, the "Fathers' team" always beat the students' team. A few of the Fathers played for the Hong Kong Football Club. Fr. O'Rourke played on the left wing and the students found it very hard to block his very accurate centering of the ball. When football was mentioned, one could see a big smile on his face. Friends know that the Fathers liked football so they generously installed Cable TV for them. This gave Fr, O'Rourke the entertainment he loved. His favourite team was Manchester United, probably because there were always Irish players on the Manchester United team. The reason why I mention his love of football is to show that Fr. O'Rourke was not a rather remote, distant priest and missionary. On the contrary, he mixed with ordinary people and shared their likes and interests. He insisted, however that entertainment should be healthy. This reflects his character. He was an upright man, but a humorous one too.

Since Fr. O'Rourke loved games and sporting activities it would be appropriate and the truth to quote of him St. Paul's words. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith, Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing”. (2 Tim 4:7 & 8)

When Jesuits die, they wish to go to the Lord quickly. They envy those who manage not to delay on their way to Him! Fr. Corbally died while eating his breakfast, Fr. Doody while offering Mass. Last year Fr. McLoughlin died in his sleep. The Lord was merciful to Fr. O'Rourke. At noon on Wednesday 17th Fr. O' Rourke arranged with a colleague to have some Masses offered. Before 5:00 p.m. he died while praying in the chapel.

We chose to have Fr. O'Rourke's Requiem Mass in the school chapel because it has a special meaning for him and for us. He served Wah Yan for 45 years. This is the chapel he loved and looked after. Here he offered numerous Masses. Here he prayed for the students. I am sure he will be happy to say “good bye” to the teachers and students in this place. He must be happy to have two Bishops and many priests offering Mass for him, his student to preach about him, and so many teachers and students, past and present, to pray for him.

Those who spoke to him recently must feel a little sad at his passing. But for a Jesuit to die in the bosom of the Lord is a consoling thing. Let us unite in praying for him who offered his life to God by his work of education among the students of Wah Van. May he hear the words of to-days Gospel being addressed to him by Our Lord himself. “Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28)