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De La Salle Brothers bid farewell to a cheerful confrère

HONG KONG (SE): The De La Salle Brothers announced that Brother Alphonsus Breen of the St. Joseph’s College Community in Hong Kong, died on January 5 at Ruttonjee Hospital. He experienced old age with good cheer and graceful, enduring the gradual wearing down of his body with no complaints. He was 88 years old. 
 
Brother Breen was born on the 9 January 1930 in Rathangan, County, Wexford, Ireland. He was given the name Martin in baptism. He joined the De La Salle Brothers in 1943 and, after his novitiate, took the habit in 1946. He followed the usual course of spiritual and academic formation before being sent to England to attend St. Mary’s Teacher Training College at Strawberry Hill, London from 1949 to 1951. 
 
He was then assigned to the missions in the Far East and his first teaching experience was at St Joseph’s Institution, Singapore, from 1952 to 1957.
 
He was transferred to Hong Kong in August 1958 and has remained her ever since. His first teaching stint was at La Salle College, Kowloon. While teaching some English and Religious Studies periods, he specialised in History and got the students to produce fine work in both La Salle and St. Joseph’s.
 
He arrived at St. Joseph’s College in 1962 and in 1969 he was appointed as principal of the Primary School and then of the College. His easy style went down well with staff and students, and standards did not in the least suffer. One colleague remembers him standing in the school hall on the day report cards were issued, saying: “The results are not good. They are not good at all. They must improve.” And improve they did.
 
He had to leave the post in 1974 in order to take over at De La Salle Secondary School, Fanling, the New Territories, where he remained until 1993. However, he continued as supervisor of St. Joseph’s Primary School until 2012.He loved the Fanling school, the people and the countryside. He also felt at home with the people and the students, and never passed up a chance for celebration. The school was at ease and Brother Breen received many visitors. Indeed, some brothers often stayed the night in the ‘country house.’
 
In between all this, he took care of the St. Joseph’s College Kindergarten from 1974 to 2012, and he was also appointed auxiliary visitor of the De La Salle Brothers in Hong Kong and attended a number of meetings overseas. Despite all these responsibilities, he kept a pleasant and sanguine temperament. 
 
All his life Brother Breen spoke and acted with kindness toward others. He believed strongly in the dictum that a spoonful of honey is worth more than a barrel of vinegar.
 
A wake will be is scheduled on January 17 in the New Hall of St. Joseph’s College from 5.00pm to 7.30pm, followed by a Requiem Mass. A funeral Mass will be celebrated on January 18 at 10.00am, also in the New Hall of St. Joseph’s College, followed by interment at St. Michael’s Cemetery, Happy Valley. 

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