Harris, Richard, 1903-1998, Jesuit priest

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Harris, Richard, 1903-1998, Jesuit priest

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  • 夏禮士神父
  • Dick Harris

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Dates of existence

14 December 1903-24 February 1998

History

Born: 14 December 1903, Ardmore, County Waterford
Entered: 30 December 1922, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1935, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1940, Holy Spirit Seminary, Aberdeen, Hong Kong
Died: 24 February 1998, Canisius College, Pymble, Sydney, Australia - Sinensis Province (CHN)

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966; HK to CHN 1992

Mission Superior of the Irish Jesuit Mission to Hong Kong: 03 October 1950-1957

Early education Mungret College SJ

by 1928 at Chieri Italy (TAUR) studying
by 1930 third wave Hong Kong Missioners - Regency
by 1937 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship
by 1938 at Aberdeen, Hong Kong - working
Hong Kong Mission Superior 03/10/1950

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Father Richard Harris, S.J.
R.I.P.

Father Richard Harris, SJ, died in Sydney, Australia on Tuesday 24 February 1998. He was 94 years old and a Jesuit priest for 62 years.

Father Harris was born on 14 December 1903 and entered the Society of Jesus on 30 December 1922. He first came to Hong Kong in 1937.

His first assignment was to the Regional Seminary in Aberdeen where he remained from 1937 until the final months of the Pacific War. From 1947 to 1951 he was rector of the seminary as well as professor of sacred scripture.

In 1950, Father Harris was appointed superior of the Society of Jesus in Hong Kong. He remained superior until 1957 after which he moved to Ricci Hall where he was warden until 1962. In 1962, Father Harris was assigned to the Church of the Assumption in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

In 1964 he was transferred to Australia where he worked in various places and in various capacities until shortly before his 93 birthday.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 8 March 1998

Note from George Byrne Entry
Requiem Mass for the repose of his soul was celebrated in Ricci Hall chapel by the warden Father R. Harris, S.J., on Monday, 8 January.

Note from Thomas F Ryan Entry
A man of striking initiative, he showed himself ready as superior to welcome initiative in others. “It has never been done before” always made him eager to reply “Let us do it now”. The plan for new buildings for Wah Yan Colleges in Hong Kong and Kowloon came from him, though the execution of the plan fell to his successor, Father R. Harris.

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
He arrived in Hong Kong in 1937. His first assignment was to the Regional Seminary in Aberdeen, where he remained until the final months of the Pacific War. From 1947-1951 he was Rector of the Seminary and Professor of Scripture.
In 1950 he was appointed Mission Superior in Hong Kong and when he finished in 1957 he moved to Ricci Hall where he was Warden until1962.
In 1962 he was appointed to the Church of the Assumption, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
In 1964 he transferred to Australia.

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Richard Harris was educated at Mungret College, Limerick, as a boarder, his family working a store in the small seaside village of Ardmore, Co Waterford. He entered the Society at Tullabeg, 30 December 1922, being drawn to the Jesuits because of their missionary work in the Far East After the noviciate he studied at the National University, Dublin, gaining BA in Mathematics Latin and English.
Philosophy followed at St Antonio, Chieri, Italy, 1927-28, a place that tested his vocation because it was difficult to enter into the life of the community He, and others, found the place cold and austere, regimented and hard. He was challenged to develop and inner strength and a strong life of prayer at this time.
From Italy, Harris went to Hong Kong and Canton for regency, 1929-32. He spent the first year studying Cantonese in the Portuguese Mission at Shuihing, and it was another lonely time as he could communicate with so few people, and only ate rice. In Canton he also taught English in the Catholic secondary school. At this time two of his fellow Jesuit priests died of cholera.
In 1932 he returned to Milltown Park, Dublin, for theology, and was ordained in 1935. Tertianship followed immediately after theology at St Beuno's, Wales, 1936-37. The following
year he returned to Hong Kong as professor of moral theology at the regional seminary, Aberdeen, teaching there until 1947. He was also rector of the same place, 1947-51.
In 1941 Hong Kong experienced many bomb raids with the advent of the war, and Harris heard confessions in the Grosvenor Hotel where he had many clients. During these days he
acted as chaplain and staff assistant, tending the injured and dying at the Queen Mary Hospital at Pokfulan just prior to the surrender of Hong Kong to the Japanese Imperial Army.
During the Japanese occupation Harris was a great source of strength to his fellow Jesuits. The community survived because of a bargain struck with some influential and rich Chinese who loaned bars of gold to buy rice and vegetables. The condition of the bargain was that the Jesuits had to repay two gold bars for every one at the end of the war.
During these years Harris nearly died from fever. As medicines were scarce, the doctor prescribed a dose of opium. Harris said that he enjoyed that experience. He was even given a
second dose!
Shortly after the Japanese surrender, Admiral Harcourt arrived in Hong Kong aboard the British flagship with an Irish Jesuit chaplain who sought out Harris and his companions. News of their safety was telegraphed to Ireland. After. six months rest and recuperation in Ireland, Harris returned to Hong Kong as rector of the seminary where he trained 60 seminarians who later worked as priests in South China.
He was appointed superior of the Hong Kong Mission, 1950-57, and became highly respected amongst the academic and medical community of Hong Kong, including the governor of the day, Sir William Gratharn, who granted the Jesuits two generous amounts of land on which to build two secondary colleges. They are the present day Wah Yan colleges in Hong Kong and Kowloon. In 1957 he was appointed superior of Ricci Hall, the Catholic residential hall of Hong Kong University. Five years later he was sent as parish priest of Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, until 1964. He was there for only two years until the Malaysian government, which was Muslim and anti-Christian, demanded that the parish he closed.
Rather than return to Hong Kong, Harris chose to go to Australia as he wished to perform parish work and believed that opportunities existed there. In September 1965 Harris arrived in Sydney, and was greeted by Fr Paul Coleman. After a short time at St Mary's, North Sydney, he was sent to the parish of St Ignatius', Richmond, where he spent a pleasant and happy six years. He was also minister, and hospital chaplain.
He returned to St Mary's in 1971 performing similar duties until 1987. He became a very popular priest with all kinds of people and was a committed visitor to patients of the Mater Hospital, both public and private. He was in demand for his sound and experienced advice. He enjoyed keeping informed about world events and sporting results. He had three significant joys his worn Irish worn rosary beads, a small battered transistor radio, and a sip of Irish Bailey's. Harris said that he never had any regrets in his life, and thanked God daily for being a priest, and for being able to work with good health for so long.
For two years he became chaplain at the Retirement Hostel, McAuley Gardens, Crows Nest, and then moved in 1990 to Justinian House, Crows Nest, where his daily Mass was much
appreciated by residents and local followers. For the last year of his life he lived at Canisius College, Pymble, praying for the Church and Society He died suddenly after a severe stroke. and he was buried from St Mary's Church, North Sydney, his eulogy being given by his long time friend and supporter, Fr Paul Coleman.
He was a man of warm humanity kindly acceptance and intuitive insight into the needs of the human heart. He was a totally human person tinged with the stubbornness of the Irish, but had a sparkling wit. He encouraged and sustained all those who came to know and love him. He became an anchor and a symbol of constancy for those privileged to cross his path.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 22nd Year No 1 1947

Departures for Mission Fields in 1946 :
4th January : Frs. P. J. O'Brien and Walsh, to North Rhodesia
25th January: Frs. C. Egan, Foley, Garland, Howatson, Morahan, Sheridan, Turner, to Hong Kong
25th July: Fr. Dermot Donnelly, to Calcutta Mission
5th August: Frs, J. Collins, T. FitzGerald, Gallagher, D. Lawler, Moran, J. O'Mara, Pelly, Toner, to Hong Kong Mid-August (from Cairo, where he was demobilised from the Army): Fr. Cronin, to Hong Kong
6th November: Frs. Harris, Jer. McCarthy, H. O'Brien, to Hong Kong

Irish Province News 23rd Year No 1 1948

On 22nd October were announced the appointments of Frs. Albert Cooney and Harris as Rectors of Wah Yan College and the Regional Seminary, Hong Kong respectively. The former who is still in Ireland will be returning soon to the Mission via the United States.

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