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Beloved Jesuit mourned

HONG KONG (SE): Father Alfred Deignan of the Society of Jesus died in the early hours of December 11 at St. Paul’s Hospital, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. He was 91-years-old.
 
Father Deignan was born in Mullagh, County Cavan, Ireland, on 25 March 1927.  He entered the society at Emo Park, Portlaoise, Laoise, on 7 September 1945 and was ordained to the priesthood on 31 July 1959 in Dublin. He professed his final vows on 5 November 1977 at Ricci Hall, where he was warden from 1970 to 1978.  
 
He was conferred an honorary doctorate in Social Sciences by Hong Kong University (HKU). His citation on its Honorary Graduates webpage notes that he arrived in the city in August of 1953 and lived for two years on Cheung Chau island where he learned Cantonese.
 
The citation notes that Father Deignan “experienced at first-hand the struggles of the villagers and boat-people against poverty and hostile natural conditions. But besides their need for help, he also saw and appreciated their inventiveness and resilience, an appreciation which developed, over the years, into strong bonds of affiliation with the young and old who came under his apostolic care. As Father Deignan, he is loved, respected, and revered by many in the Hong Kong community, past and present.”
 
He began a long association with Wah Yan College Hong Kong after he left Cheung Chau and, between 1962 and 1970, served first as vice-principal and then as principal of the school. He was also principal of Wah Yan College Kowloon from 1978 to 1992. 
 
In a 2017 interview with the SCMP, he lamented the state of education and society in Hong Kong, saying, “There is too much about exams and academic achievement and a complete lack of spirituality,” adding that far more work had to be done in schools on the personal development of children.
 
A final tribute is scheduled to be held at St. Ignatius Chapel, Wah Yan College, Kowloon, from 8.30 to 10.45am. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11.00am followed by burial at St. Michael’s Catholic Cemetery, Happy Valley.
 
May he rest in peace.

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