CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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La Salle College celebrates the responsibility of heritage

 

HONG KONG (SE): “This is your college. That is why we are here,” Brother Steve Hogan, the principal of La Salle College in Kowloon Tong told 1,650 students gathered together with staff, old boys and supporters of the school at a Mass celebrated by Bishop John Tong Hon at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Central on December 2, to mark the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the prestigious academic institution.

“We are celebrating our heritage,” Brother Steve continued. “It is a heritage that we all carry and have a responsibility for, as teachers, students, parents and past students. Today, we are celebrating the way in which La Salle College grew.”

He added that at the celebration of such an anniversary we mark the day the word La Salle was burned into our hearts by the foundation brothers and staff members and students who gave birth to the college on the day classes began on 3 December 1931.

Brother Steve thanked Bishop Tong for his continued support of the college as he received a papal blessing for the school from him, to the warm applause of the congregation.

The papal blessing says that Pope Benedict XVI imparts his apostolic blessing to the principal, teachers and students on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the college and blesses them for their human and Christian education of youth—dated 2 September 2011.

“We will display it in a prominent place in the school,” Brother Steve said. “It will be a reminder to us all of the prestige we enjoy as a part of the Church in Hong Kong.”

Finally, he said, “Men of La Salle. Thanks for being here and really participating and letting us know that the Lord is with us. Thank you for bringing the spirit of the school to this cathedral.”

And bring the spirit they did. It would have been impossible for a stranger to have dropped in and not recognised that the student body participated in the Mass in a manner that truly reflected a tremendous pride in and love for their school.

Bishop Tong stressed the importance of the virtue of gratitude, saying that it is appropriate to express our gratitude for the manner in which La Salle College has benefitted Hong Kong, as gratitude is also the foundation of all virtues.

“We receive gifts,” he said, “and we should appreciate them and share them with others. It is fitting that we offer gratitude in this Mass.”

The bishop cited the example of Jesus loving young people, something which he said was implied by St. John Baptist de la Salle when he founded the Christian Brothers of the School, commonly known as De La Salle Brothers, 340 years ago. “Something which is still being lived out today,” he empathised.

He then quoted the Chinese philosophers, Confucius and Mencius, as promoting respect both for those of advanced age, as well as children and the members of other’s families.

He said that Christ took that one step further in his command to love our neighbour as ourselves and to treat others in the same way that we would like to be treated ourselves.

Bishop Tong told of a teacher in Harbin, China, who found it was only when he learned how to love his students that they were able to learn well from him.

The multi-national character of La Salle College was demonstrated during the prayer of the faithful, as students spoke in Spanish, French, Hindi and Cantonese.

The internationality of the outreach of the De La Salle Brothers was also reflected by the evergreen Brother Patrick Tierney in his welcoming address, as he outlined the proud history of La Salle College and introduced the wide spectrum of guests at the celebration.

Brother Edmundo Fernandez, the provincial of the newly established East Asia District of the De La Salle Brothers, together with his auxiliary, Brother Thomas Lavin, were guests of honour at the celebration.

The headquarters of the new district was opened in Hong Kong on October 2.

Others on the guest list included Francis Chan Nai-kwok, representing the episcopal delegate for education in the diocese, and Theresa Tsang Tak-lan, representing the deputy delegate, as well as Nicholas Ng, Michael See and Joseph Lee.

The guest list extended to different schools and parishes in Hong Kong, as well as office holders in the La Salle College support groups and former staff members.

David Mong, Stephen Leung, Thomas Wong, Mark Huang, and Lester Huang represented the Old Boys’ Association.

Four old boy priests, Father Edward Khong Kih-cheung, Father Dominic Lui Chi-man and Father Peter Leung Tat-choy, all from Hong Kong diocese, as well as Jesuit Father Marciano Baptista concelebrated at the Mass.

Former school chaplains, Father Bruno Lepeu mep and Father Mendez Alejandro mg joined them.

Four staff members from De La Salle schools in Brother Steve’s native New Zealand were also present.

They were en route to Manila, The Philippines, where they were scheduled to take part in the two-yearly Asia Pacific Lasallian Educators Conference, which addresses issues in education and provides leadership formation for associates in the congregation’s mission spirit and charism.

The lay associates are now serving around one million students in the Asia Pacific area in universities, teacher training colleges, hospitals, primary and secondary schools, kindergartens and orphanages, both for the elite as well as the urban and rural poor.

Brother Steve told the Sunday Examiner that Lasallian education serves all comers, regardless of wealth or status, from Pakistan in the east to Japan in the west, and China in the north and New Zealand in the south.

“La Salle College is possibly one of only about six schools in the Asian Pacific region with a brother as principal and probably one of about 20 to 30 institutions that still have a brother’s presence,” Brother Steve said.

“Yet the mission is stronger than ever, run by well-formed and mentored associates,” he concluded.

 

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