Subfonds 771 - Fr Frank Doyle SJ

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IE IJA J/771


Fr Frank Doyle SJ


  • 1931-2011 (Creation)

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(04 October 1931-17 March 2011)

Biographical history

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 :

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 (

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.

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