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玫瑰崗的傳奇人物﹣玫瑰崗舊生會永遠榮譽主席謝天仁神父專訪 Interview with our beloved Fr. Lionel Xavier 19/10/2011
 

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一個傳奇的誕生

 

謝天仁神父(Father Lionel Xavier) 在一九三零年七月三日於香港出生。因為謝神父的外表看似東方民族,相信有好些人會以為他是來自中國或其他鄰近地區;其實謝神父是來自一個多種民族的家庭,他說:「其實我也對自己的血統十分好奇,所以我曾經翻查所屬教會的紀錄,但經多番找尋後,我只查到我的祖父為一葡萄牙人,而我祖母則來自帝門(Timor)或其鄰近地區。然而,在教會內的紀錄中我郤找不到我母親家族血統的紀錄,我只知道我的外祖父是一名英國人,而外祖母則來自果阿(Goa),因此我並不清楚我哪位袓先是中國人。」

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因為當時謝神父的父親為一名海事工程師,所以需要長期在香港、澳門及廣東一帶不同地方工作,因此他跟母親的關係也比較親近。謝天仁神父在家中排行最小,除了其父母外,家中成員還包括兩位兄長和三位姊姊,因此他年幼時各人均對他寵愛有加,尤其是跟她年紀最接近的那位姊姊,更是與他感情最好。

 

筆者心裡一直有個疑問,謝神父在香港出生和長大,為何他的廣東話和中文能力並不像一個土生土長的本地人呢?他解釋:「因為在家中時我跟家人是用葡萄牙語溝通的,而我在喇沙學校就讀時亦只需使用英語,所以我在年幼時只能透過家中的華藉傭人學習一些基本的廣東會話用語。」直至謝神父當上玫瑰崗學校中學部校長一職後,他才在中文大學新亞書院正式學習講廣東話,閱讀和書寫中文。他對筆者說:「其實在某一階段我是能夠閱讀和書寫一定程度的中文的,但礙於當時校長的工作十分繁忙,所以我最後也迫於無奈放棄中大的中文課程。現在想起來仍覺得很可惜,我是應該找機會繼續學習中文的。」

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當他在喇學校完成中六課程後,謝神父加入了羅兵咸會計師事務所當一名會計主任。謝神父說:「其實我對會計並不是特別有興趣的,原本我是打算攻讀牙醫這門專業的,但因為當時如果要學這門專科,最近的地方也要到菲律賓,而家父當時並不贊成我赴笈當地,因此我最後我只好留在香港另找工作了。」其後在羅兵咸會計師事務所工作的七年中,謝神父亦完成了兩級會計師的專業資格考試。

 

加入天主的大家庭

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由於家中各人均是天主教教徒關係,其父母在謝天仁神父出生不久後亦安排他接受領洗。「我母親是一名很虔誠的天主教徒,所以自小我便跟她時常出入聖堂,我亦因此被安排到尖沙咀聖母堂開設的幼稚園讀書。其後就讀的喇沙學校也是一所天主教學校。

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讀者們可能會十分好奇,當時年輕的謝神父有著俊朗的外表,一份令不少人羡慕的職業,為何他會突然間決定抛開一切,去當神父呢?當中是不是有什麼特別原因呢?他笑道:「說起來你可能不會相信,其實當年吸引我加入道明會當神父的第一樣東西是一個小小的道明會襟章。話說當時我已做了會計工作七年了,某一天我看見朋友在胸前掛了一個看來很漂亮的襟章,我便好奇地問他那襟章是什麼一回事,他告訴我那是一個代表道明會的襟章。隨後他更邀請我到聖雅拔大修道會的第三會聚會。第三會是一個教導教友如何進一步改善精神生活的組織,而他們的聚會是在每週週日舉行。老實說,當時我第一個反應是十分抗拒我朋友的邀請,因為我當時每星期才休息一天,我覺得這一週唯一的休息日是十分寶貴的,用來出席宗教聚會有點浪費吧。可是最後出於好奇心,我仍跟我朋友到位於司徙拔道的聖雅拔大修道會看看,在出席該聚會的過程中我驚覺聚會比我原先想像的有意思和有趣。」此外,根據謝天仁神父所講,黑白色的神父袍是第二樣吸引他加入道明會的東西。

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當謝神父出席第三會的聚會一段日子後,雖然他已以聖母軍的身在教區內做很多福傳的工作,但他開始感到自己更嚮往神父那些簡單、全心全意侍奉天主、傳播福音的生活;此時他考慮抛開一切去做一名神父。但是除了家人和工作外,其實當時謝神父正跟一位女朋友交往中,「我是在尖沙咀聖母玫瑰堂旁天主教青年恊會籌款建成的社區會堂認識她的,我還記得當時我二十四歲。由於與她家庭背景頗相似﹣也是曾經僑居澳門帶有葡萄牙血統的後人,所以我們覺得跟對方相當投契。」筆者問:「那當她知道您有意當神父時,她有什麼反應呢?」謝神父道:「其實我們當時還只是在普通約會階段,還未有結婚的打算。因此當她聽到我的打算時,她沒有覺得太難以接受;加上她本身也是一名虔誠的天主教徒,所以她對我當神父的決定也相當理解。相反地,當我告知我父母這決定時,他們均感到十分震驚和傷心,尤其是我的媽媽,她大哭了好陣子,像我快要離開人世一樣。最後,我向他們解釋我這決定的原因;我亦向他們保證我跟他們的關係會一直保持密切,因為我不需要花時間結識及照顧自己的家庭。」

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在一九五六年謝天仁神父正式加入聖雅拔大修道會進修拉丁文及西班牙文。在一年後他便接受道明會聖召分辦當見習期修道士,亦開始在聖雅拔大修道會接受七年的宗教理論和哲學等教育。在聖雅拔修道院的九年期間,謝神父十分享受與其他修士一起的修道生活。雖然他大部份時間都用於研究各天主教文獻上,但因謝神父本身是一位體育的愛好者,所以他還會在餘下的時間參與多種不同的運動,如曲棍球、壘球、羽毛球等。在一九五九年謝神父便正式申請矢發終身聖願,終身成為修士。其後在一九六零年至一九六三年,謝神父被送往菲律賓大學(University of Sto. Thomas)繼續修讀三年的宗教理論。值得一提的是本校另一神父Fr Mendoza亦是謝神父在菲律賓大學進修時的其中一位教授呢。

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在菲律賓經過三年的進修後,謝神父正式被推薦晉鐸成正式神父,並在一九六三年在聖母堂正式晉鐸成為神父。其後他隨即被派往菲律賓馬尼拉的瑪利諾書院任教道德宗教科,但一年後他再次被調回香港,在一九六四年至一九六七年間他在香港大學繼續進修文學士學位主修英文。

 

玫瑰崗上的生活


 

雖然謝神父在一九六三年後已開始在玫瑰崗居住,但他當時並不怎麼需要參與學校的教學或行政工作;直至到一九六七年當時的中學部校長連生神父決定離開玫瑰崗時,謝神父便被安排走馬上任中學部校長一職。他說:「其實當時的我對校長的職務可說一無所知,所以基本上我是一邊當校長,一邊學習如何做好這份新職務。 然而我亦十分感謝天主很眷顧我這名校長「初哥」,亦可能是我們校址的位置關係,我們的學生很多均是來自背景良好的家庭,所以他們的性格一般都比較友善和簡單,使我不難適應校長職務的新挑戰。」

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當我校第一屆中五學生中學畢業時,基於很多學校亦有成立舊生會,謝神父便建議他們成立玫瑰崗舊生會,以便本校舊生在離校後仍能跟母校保持聯絡。謝神父說他確亦知道玫瑰崗舊生會曾經歷過多次的活躍期和沉寂期,但他亦為舊生會在過去數年再次活躍起來而感到欣喜,並希望舊生會能持續穏定發展和維持下去。不說大家可能不知,除了舊生會外,中學部的學生會也是由謝天仁神父當年提議下所創立的,所以他在玫瑰崗的貢獻可謂多不勝數。


 

當被問道在玫瑰崗學校任職多年,謝神父可有什麼難忘事,他坦言:「我記得在我校全盛時期,四個部門的學生總人數曾經一度高達差不多六千人。雖然這龐大的學生數目使在資源調配和管理上令我們面對相當的壓力,但當時全校師生上下均抱著樂觀和正面的態度,校內各人各盡本份, 那段日子我們還是無風無浪的安然渡過。」

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在玫瑰崗早年就讀的舊生應該還會記得以前我們的中學部是分為男中部和女中部的。筆者向謝神父問:「聴說這是因為在創校之初,校方收到羅馬教廷通知,他們當時的立場是教廷反對男女同校的教育模式,這是真的嗎?」謝神父說:「這也是我們當初的理解。同時,在教導學生方面,男中部和女中部分開也有它的好處,我們覺得是比較容易管理學生的行為的。到後期當我們有機會向同區主教確認我們對教廷在這方面的理解時,主教向我們澄清教廷從來都沒有反對男女同校,因此我們在校務會議中多次商討後,最後在二千年開始決定將男中部和女中部的分割取消,容許他們由中一開始便男女同班。」

 

玫瑰崗的一些人和事……

 

謝神父可以說是玫瑰崗學校的活字典,他跟筆者分享玫瑰崗學校的起源:「在很久以前,道明會在香港是擁有頗多土地的,例如現在玫瑰新邨的地段、現在尖沙咀的美麗華酒店的地段和尖沙咀區的多幅土地等。我還記得開辦玫瑰崗學校的江樂士神父當時認識一位名叫楊志雲的男子,楊先生當時在我校首任學校秘書Ms Shirley Tsui的父親的公司只是任職一名秘書。當時楊先生經江神父的幫忙購得尖沙咀美麗華酒店的地皮而賺了一筆很可觀的盈利;其後當他知道道明會有意將聖雅拔大修道會搬離香港,並在相同地段開辦一所學校時,楊志雲先生便向江神父商討購買聖雅拔修道院原址的一部份地皮,條件除了向道明會支付一筆售價外,他還向道明會承諾免費興建整幢學校校舍,江神父最後亦接受楊先生開出的條件。所以,江樂士神父在楊志雲先生成功的事業中佔有一個十分重要的位置。楊志雲先生後來也創辦了本港有名的景福珠寶金行。」

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筆者還記得另一件舊事,話說當年我校曾經計劃在校內興建游泳池,並曾經向學生和舊生們募捐經費,為何最終沒有實行該計劃呢?謝神父道:「學校方面確實曾經有計劃興建游泳池,並計劃在其下面興建一個有蓋校車停車場。可是,最終因為九七回歸問題,校方有感香港未來發展並不太明朗而擱置該計劃。再者,有關方面亦曾告知我們,本校是跟港安醫院共用同一供水系統,所以,如果我們興建游泳池便會出現水質安全和排污等的問題。」

 

在當中學部校長的二十三年間,謝神父道縱使有時候也有遇過一些小問題,但經校內各人同心合力,那些小問題最終也得到恰當的解決。

 

「還有,玫瑰崗校內以前曾經發生過兩宗炸彈事件。當時有人在早會台下放置了一個計時炸彈 ,並在早會剛結束後發生爆炸,令早會台炸出一個大洞,幸好在這事件中並沒有人受傷。事件並沒有因此結束,第二天有人再在某課室放置另一枚計時炸彈,事後經調查後發現是當時一名學生因為對學校管理層有所不滿,所以自行研製炸彈。雖然我們對他能自行研製炸彈的能力十分佩服,但是校方覺得事件實在太嚴重,不得不下令他退學。」

 

謝神父續道:「還有,記得有一次有頑皮的學生在多個課室門鎖內加入了膠水,以致那些課室門都不能開啟,最後我們只好將所有門鎖更換。雖然有時我們也會面對不同的小問題,但綜合來說我仍是十分享受在玫瑰崗渡過的歲月,我對玫瑰崗就像其他人對自己子女那麼重視和關心一樣。」

 

難忘的玫瑰崗之「友」

 

當被問到回顧多年在玫瑰崗的日子裡,謝神父可有對哪些人有特別深刻的印象。他回答:「首先,我想在此特別向當年創立玫瑰崗學校的江樂士神父致謝。我十分多謝他當年對我的無比信任,讓我有充足的自由度去隨著我的意願去管理中學部。另外,當然有多位是在創校初期跟我一起渡過不少難關的好同事,例如:林麒偉(Mr David Lam),當年因為他幫我管理中學部學生的紀律,我在那方面便全完不用擔心。記得當年社會年青人都視長頭髮為時尚的象徵,他某一天居然在市區請一位理髮師回來學校即場為數位校內長頭髮的男同學剪頭髮,這件事可說是十分有趣呢。」

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數起玫瑰崗舊生,很多人都會說起已故一代天皇巨星張國榮,「我記得Leslie在本校就讀直至中三時他的英文名還是叫Bobby,那時我常常跟他打羽毛球的。直至他離世前,他都是一位十分支持玫瑰崗的舊生,每當我們有活動希望他來支持我們時,他總會盡量抽空出席。他在百忙中仍繼續支持他的母校,大家均感到非常感動。另外,我還記得有一次我們一起到淺水灣喝下午茶時,他身邊總是包圍著他的歌迷和影迷,使我們難以好好靜靜地享受一頓下午茶。他向我慨歎再也不能跟一般人一樣享受自己的私人生活了。其實在他離世前大約一個月左右,我在山頂碰見過他的,當時我們還閒聊了一陣子。我當時完全不知道他患上抑鬱病,不然我會好好跟他談一頓,讓我看一下我可以做什麼幫到他的。他那麼年輕便離世真是十分可惜。」

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另外,謝神父還記得另一位已故的演藝界校友 ﹣ 翁美玲,「我記得有一天她向學校查詢可否讓她在校舍內拍攝一下她成長的地方。我告訴她學校隨時歡迎她回來的 。」

 

除了上述兩位舊生外,當然還有很多位校友謝神父一直還記得他們:「例如:施熙德(Edith Shih)在多年來一直十分支持玫瑰崗;自然療法醫生-袁大明醫生(Dr Alexander Yuan);一位曾經在玫瑰崗就讀的神父﹣林祖明神父(Fr Eddie Lam);另一位在不久前離世的舊生﹣馮紹禹(Bernard Fung),他亦一直十分支持我們;舊生Danny Wong在多年前慷慨地向學校捐贈大量冷氣機;Dr James Cheng和容樹恆醫生﹣就我的健康問題時常要勞煩他們;還有多位中學部與我共事多年的同事如關治邦老師、劉連芳老師、陳漢欽老師、郭健基老師、徐耀祥老師、吳仕聲老師、林寶英老師、蘇彩研老師、陳建彬老師等。另外,我亦想在此感謝在玫瑰崗服務多年的學校秘書Ms Betty Leung和校車部前總管徐亢。當然還有歷任玫瑰崗舊生會主席呢。」

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謝神父的近況

 

在一九九零年當謝天仁神父卸任玫瑰崗中學部校長後,教會給予他一年時間休假。在那一年他分別到了加拿大和澳洲探訪他的兄長和姐姐。在一年後教會亦安排他在澳洲柏斯教區做牧群工作一年。在一九九三年謝神父再次被邀回去玫瑰崗任職小學部校長一職直至一九九六年。跟著在一九九七年至二零零四年間他被委任負責玫瑰崗學校的宗教部。

 

在二零零四年謝神父被安排到澳門聖保羅學校執教宗教科及掌管校內的宗教部直至二零零七年。

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在二零零七年,謝天仁神父接到一項新任務 ﹣ 在澳門重開的聖雅拔修道院任學生監督。他主要的工作是培訓新一代的修士,為未來晉鐸成為神父作準備。謝神父說:「我實在很高興能讓我再過我嚮往的宗教社區生活,這亦是我當初當神父的主要原因。其次,我對我能參與培訓修士的工作感到很高興,因為他們才是我們未來的骨幹。」

 

最後,謝神父跟我分享他多年來教學的心得,他說:「失敗只是成功的暫時性延期,只要不要放棄,從錯誤中學習,成功終有一天是會降臨的。」

 

以上是謝天仁神父在2010年時做的專訪,在此舊生會希望各位時刻謹記謝神父對我們的教誨,同時永遠懷念我們最尊敬、無人能替代的玫瑰崗舊生會永遠榮譽主席:謝天仁神父。

 

文:伍宇鍔

 

 


 

When the Son of Rosaryhill was born….

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Father Lionel Xavier was born in Hong Kong on 3rd July 1930. When we asked Father Xavier why if traces of Chinese genes could be found from his appearance, he said ‘I am not too sure. I am also very curious. My father’s father was a Portuguese and his wife was either from Timor or one of the Far East countries. Actually I had tried to search through the church records since I also suspected that I should have some Chinese blood in the family, but I could only locate the records that referred to my grandfather’s family but not my mother’s; I only know my mother’s father was an Englishman and his wife was from Goa; therefore, I have no idea which of my ancestors was Chinese.’

 

Father Xavier was born in a fairly big family with 6 children. ‘My father was a marine engineer so his job required him to travel between Hong Kong, Macau and Canton all the time. I have two older brothers and three older sisters. Since I was the youngest child in the family, my brothers and sisters always treated me very well.’

 

Father Xavier spent most of his childhood in Hong Kong.  He used to live in nice building on Jordan Road with his family. He spoke mainly Portuguese at home with his family and he mainly spoke English in La Salle College where he received his education up Form Six level, which explained why Fr Xavier could not speak fluent Cantonese even though he spent most of his life in Hong Kong. He did not learn the local language formally until he decided to take a Chinese language course at the New Asia College in the Chinese University of Hong Kong when he first became Rosaryhill School’s Father Principal. ‘At one stage I could write and read reasonably good level of Cantonese, but unfortunately I had to stop my Chinese lessons after a short period of time because of the School’s demanding duties then my Chinese proficiency gradually deteriorated ever since I dropped out of the course. I have always regretted that I never got to resume my Chinese lessons’, Father Xavier said.

 

After having finished his secondary education in La Salle College, Father Xavier started working as an auditing clerk in an accountancy firm called Lowe, Bingham & Matthews, but Father Xavier said actually his interest was in dentistry at that time but it was because his father would not allow him to go to the Philippines for dentistry education (it was "the country" where most people in Asia would study Dentistry), he then chose accounting to be his career.  During the 7 years he was working at Lowe, Bingham & Matthews, Father Xavier finished two levels of the professional accountancy examinations (ACCA).

 

Joining the Catholic community

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Father Xavier was baptized soon after his birth. He was sent to a kindergarten that was run by St Mary Church in Tsim Sha Tsui. His mother was a devoted Catholic as well so Father Xavier had always been a regular church goer since he was very young.

 

Many people might wonder why Father Xavier suddenly decided to become a priest when he seemed to have a very promising career ahead of him? Father Xavier said he remembered the very first thing that the Dominicans attracted his attention was a Dominicans’ badge which his friend was wearing on chest one day. ‘I asked him what the badge was all about and he told me that it was a symbol of the Dominicans. My friend then introduced me to join the St Albert Priory’s Third Order. It is a Catholic organization for lay people who want to improve their spiritual lives. The Third Order’s meeting was always held on Sundays at St Albert’s Priory which was a monastery on Stubbs Road where Rosaryhill School is now located. To be honest, my first reaction to my friend’s suggestion was that I thought he was crazy since he suggested me to spend my only holiday in the week on religious meetings. However, out of curiosity, I still went along to sit in the meeting with my friend and during the meeting I found it a lot more interesting than I had thought,’ he said.

 

According to Fr Xavier, the next thing that drew attention was the black and white clothing of Catholic priests. After having attended the Third Order meetings for a while, he felt that he wanted to take one more step forward and he started thinking about taking priesthood since he thought the simple life of priests would allow him to devote himself entirely on spreading the good news of God. At that time he was already a member of the Legion of Mary, a Catholic organization with an aim to teach religion within the parish.

 

Apart from the promising accountant career, another thing that he had to give up was his girlfriend at that time. ‘I met her in a community hall which was funded by the donations to the Catholic Young Men’s Association and that community hall is still standing next to Rosary’s Church in Tsim Sha Tsui today. I was already twenty-four years old when I first met her. She was also from a Portuguese and Macanese family so our background had a lot of things in common. We were merely dating at the time so we had no plans to get married yet. She was certainly very surprised when I first told her about my intention to become a priest but she was very understanding and she took it very well since she was also a devoted Catholic herself’. On the other hand, Father Xavier’s parents found the news more than shocking and quite difficult to accept. ‘My mother cried heartbrokenly as if I was going to die but I assured her that I would be even closer to the family after I become a priest since I would not be getting married.’

 

In 1956 Father Xavier formally joined St Albert’s Priory to study Latin and Spanish for a year and after that he received the official Dominican habit and he served a year of novitiate before he took a vow which followed by studying theology and philosophy in St Albert’s Priory (also called House of Studies at that time) for another seven years. During the nine years in St Albert’s Priory , Father Xavier enjoyed the religious and community life with the fellow students there very much. He spent the majority of his time on studying relevant religious documentations, and since Father Xavier was an athletic person by nature, he still managed to find some spare time to take part in different sports activities such as field hockey, softball and badminton. He joined the Order of Preachers on July 28, 1959 and subsequently between 1960 and 1963 he was sent to further study theology at University of Sto. Thomas in Philippines for three years. It is worth to mention that our School’s another priest, Fr Mendoza, was one of his professors in the University of Sto. Thomas.

 

After the three-year studies Fr Xavier was presented to the Bishop for ordainment and on 27th April 1963 he was officially ordained in Rosary Church in Kowloon. Subsequently Fr Xavier was assigned to teach moral theology in Maryknoll College in Manila for a year before he was asked to come back to Hong Kong to further study a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English language at the University of Hong Kong between 1964 and 1967.

 

 Life in RHS

 

Although Father Xavier was already living in Rosaryhill School after 1963, he was not actively involved in any teaching or school administration until he was assigned to be the Secondary Section’s Principal in 1967 after the former Secondary Principal Father Dominic Lien left the School. ‘At first I knew nothing about running a school. I basically learned everything from experience. Most of the  students at that time were very friendly, simple, sincere and easy to get along with and that made my job not too difficult to do. It was probably because of the location of our school, so most of our students had to come to school by cars or our school buses and therefore the majority of our students came from middle-class families.’

 

 

After the first batch of the Form Five graduates finished their secondary education at RHS, Father Xavier proposed to establish an old students assocation in order to allow Rosaryhill’s past students to stay in touch with their alma mater. Father Xavier said he had witnessed numerous ups and downs in RHSOSA throughout the years and he was glad to see RHSOSA has been growing steadily over the recent years. Apart from the RHSOSA, it was also Father Xavier who started the Student Council in the Secondary Section.

 

When we asked Father Xavier if there were any special memories he wanted to share with us about his days as the School’s Principal, he said ‘I remember at one time our School had over 6000 students and we were a little overloaded but the general standard of our students still remained quite high. The cooperation between teachers and students was incredible and the whole school was filled with positive and high spirit.’

 

 

With regard to our School’s earlier division between Boys’ Section and Girls’ Section in the Secondary Section, I asked Father Xavier why there was such a division in our School. Father Xavier said there were actually advantages to have such division, he said in fact it was a good idea since he thought such division made it easier for the School to manage discipline of the students. Moreover, at that time there was a misunderstanding by the School that the Church in Rome was against the idea of co-education, it was only until many years later when he got a chance to clarify that with the Bishop who told him that the Church was not really against co-education at all. Therefore, the School finally decided to merge the 2 sections in 2000.

 

Stories of Rosaryhill……

 

Father Xavier is no doubt the walking encyclopedia of Rosaryhill School. He shared with us some stories about the origin of Rosaryhill School. ‘In fact the Dominicans used to own a lot of land in Hong Kong in the past including the present location of Rosaryhill School, the land of next door neighour Villa Monte Rosa and many other plots in Tsim Sha Tsui area. I remember the founder of our School, Rev. Fr. Eutimio Gonzalez O.P. knew a gentleman called Yeung Chi Wan through our School’s first Secretary Ms Shirley Tsui. At that time Mr Yeung was working in Ms Choi’s father’s company as a secretary. With the help of Father Gonzalez, Mr Yeung acquired the land of the present Miramar Hotel and made a fortunate out of that transaction. Subsequently, when the Dominicans intended to turn the then St Albert’s Priory into a school after they decided to move the House of Studies to Philippines; since the Dominicans didn’t need the entire piece of land for the future school, Mr Yeung offered to buy part of the land from the Dominicans to build present Villa Monte Rosa and in addition to the price of the land, he offered to Father Gonzalez that he would also build the school campus for free and that offer was accepted by Father Gonzalez finally. Therefore, Father Gonzalez had really played an important part in Mr Yeung’s successful career. Mr Yeung Chi Wan later also became the founder of the famous King Fook Jewelry Shop.’

 

‘Actually the School did plan for many times to build a swimming pool with a covered school bus parking facilities below. This project almost happened but we eventually decided to drop the idea as we felt the future after the changeover of sovereignty in 1997 was rather uncertain. Moreover, we were told that it was because our school shared the same channeling of water with Adventist Hospital, and it might create considerable sewage and safety problems; therefore, the project never proceeded.’

 

When asked about his feelings about being the Principal of the Secondary Section for more than two decades, Fr Xavier said he enjoyed those twenty three years very much. Like many other organizations, Rosaryhill School also had faced a few challenges from time to time but there were all manageable problems.

 

There were a few incidents that Father Xavier can still remember today, ‘Rosaryhill had had two bomb incidents previously. Apparently a student wasn’t too happy with the School’s management so he decided to place a homemade bomb under the assembly stage and it went off as soon as the assembly was over. Fortunately nobody got hurt in the incident. The second homemade bomb was placed in the classroom the next day. Subsequently, the School had no choice but to expel the student involved in the two bomb incidents although he did seem to have some talents in chemistry or making  bombs. ‘

 

‘On another occasion, a naughty student put some glue into the keyholes of all of the classrooms and eventually we had to change all of the door locks,’ Father Xavier said.  Despite these few challenges, Father Xavier told us that he thoroughly enjoyed his time in the School and he always saw Rosaryhill School  as his own baby.

 

 Unforgettable Rosarians

 

Looking back to his years in RHS, Father Xavier said there were a number of people to whom he felt particularly grateful. ‘I would like to express my first gratitude to the late Rev. Fr. Eutimio Gonzalez O.P. I am always grateful to him for his trust by leaving everything in my own hands so that I was able to make my own decisions with no interference from him. There are also many others….like Mr David Lam, the prefect of discipline in the Secondary Section, he helped me a lot in managing discipline of the students. I remember he once asked a barber to come to school to provide haircut service for students who were reluctant to give up their long and inappropriate hairstyle. Another colleague who is worth mentioning is Mr Stephen Tsai. He was the ‘coordinator’ of the whole school. Basically he looked after different sections of the school and he made sure each section coordinated with one other well.’

 


 

Our star alumnus was another old student Fr Xavier knew very well. ‘Leslie Cheung used to be called Bobby in the past and he was always a very supportive Rosarian. He came back for various school activities and fundraising events whenever the School needed him to. I remember he left Rosaryhill after he finished Form Three and he was still called Bobby at that time. I used to play badminton with him very often before he left Rosaryhill. I remember Leslie and I had gone to Repulse Bay for afternoon tea many many years ago; there was just no peace during the whole time since he was always surrounded by his fans.  Leslie complained to me that he could hardly enjoy any private moments anymore. Actually I ran into him on the Peak just one month before he committed suicide. I never knew he had depression problems. Had I known about it, I would have tried to contact him to see if there was anything I could do to help.’

 

Father Xavier also remembered another famous actress Barbara Yung. ‘She asked me for permission to come back for filming her Alma Mater and I certainly told her that she was welcomed to do that.’

 

Apart from the abovementioned persons, in Father Xavier’s memory, there are many more unforgettable Rosarians over the years such Edith Shih, a successful past student and a good friend; Dr Alexander Yuan, a natural therapy doctor; Eddie Lam, a student who turned to be a priest; Bernard Fung, a successful and supportive alumnus who just passed away recently; Bernard Chan, a very generous and supportive Rosarian; Danny Wong, a generous patron who donated a large sum of money for the installation of air conditioners in the school campus; a few medical doctors such as Dr James Cheng and Dr Patrick Yung, who looked after his health from time to time. Moreover, Mr Robert Kwan, Ms Cathy Lau, Mr Damen Chan, Mr Jonathan Kwok, Mr Tsui Yiu Cheung, Mr Ng Si Sing, Ms Belinda Lam, Ms So Choi Yin, Mr Chan Kin Bun were all very helpful and good colleagues to me for many years; Ms Betty Leung was another one worth mentioning. She served as the School’s secretary for a very long time; Mr Tsui Kong, the Head Driver in the School Bus Department and all of the past presidents of RHSOSA.’

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 Recent Life

 

In 1990 he had to take a Sabbatical leave for a year since Father Xavier had reached the required retirement age. During the year he went to various places in Canada and Australia and later between 1992 and 1993 Father Xavier was assigned to do parish work in Perth in Australia. In 1993 Father Xavier was invited to go back to Rosaryhill School and he worked there as the Principal of the Primary Section from 1993 to 1996. Between 1997 and 2004 Father Xavier served in RHS as the Head of Religion in the Religious Department. In 2004, Father Xavier was assigned by the then Father Provincial Father Bonifacio Solis to join St Paul’s College in Macau and to serve there as the Head of the Department of Religion between 2004 and 2007.

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In 2007, Father Xavier was very happy to receive a new assignment from the Dominicans. He was assigned to be the Master of Students in St Dominic’s Priory. His job was mainly to offer training to young students who had decided to become priests in the future. Father Xavier told us that he was so happy to be back to the community life of Order of Preachers as it was in fact the very original reason why he took up priesthood. Moreover, he is happy about being involved in the formation of the future Dominican priests who will be the future of our Holy Rosary. Since early 2010, Father Xavier has been acting as the Assistant to Mater of Students in St Dominic’s Priory.

 

At last, Father Xavier shared with us a motto: ’Failure is only a delayed success. If you could learn from your mistake, you will definitely succeed one day.’

 

Father Xavier just celebrated his 80th birthday on 3rd July earlier this year, we here wish Father Xavier stay healthy and RHSOSA hope that we will have another big birthday celebration with him  again when he reaches 90 years old!

 

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Interviewed and written by Edward Ng

  

*Father Xavier’s email address: xavierlionel@gmail.com

 

 
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