- IE IJA J/642
- 02 January 1911-03 October 1991
Born: 02 January 1911, Ballinrobe, County Mayo
Entered: 01 September 1928, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 13 May 1942, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final vows: 08 December 1976
Died: 03 October 1991, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong - Macau-Hong Kong Province (MAC-HK)
Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966
by 1937 at Aberdeen, Hong Kong - Regency
Second World War Chaplain
◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Death of Father Alan Birmingham, S.J.
Former editor of “Sunday Examiner” dies in Hong Kong
Father Alan Birmingham, a long-time editor of the “Sunday Examiner” died here after a brief illness on 3 October 1991.
Father Birmingham, a Jesuit, had lived in Hong Kong for almost 50 years, having first arrived here in November 1936.
Born in Co. Mayo, Ireland, in 1911, he joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1928 after secondary school and went on to take an honours degree in mathematics in the National University of Ireland.
After his arrival in Hong Kong in 1936 he studied Cantonese and then taught for a year in Wah Yan College, then in Robinson Road, before returning to Ireland a few months before the outbreak of the Second World War to complete his Jesuit training.
Ordained a priest in Dublin on 13 May 1942, he became a Catholic chaplain, with the rank of Captain, in the wartime British Army, thus delaying his return to Hong Kong.
Having served in England and Northern Ireland, he was assigned to land with the Allied forces sea and air assault on the north coast of France on “D-Day”, 6 June 1944.
He afterwards said that his main task on those fateful first days ashore was burying the dead on the beaches where they had landed.
He stayed with his soldiers in France, Belgium and finally Germany until mid-August 1945.
He was then re-assigned to India from where he was “demobbed” (returned to civilian life) in October 1946.
After returning to Hong Kong in February 1948, he was sent for some months to Canton (Guangzhou) where a Jesuit colleague, Father John Turner, was lecturing at Chung Shan University.
That summer he moved back to Hong Kong, becoming a professor of Dogmatic Theology and later of Sacred Scripture at the then Regional Seminary in Aberdeen where Chinese priests from many dioceses in South China received their professional training. He held these posts for nine years.
During those years he also lectured briefly on philosophy and English literature at the University of Hong Kong.
In 1957, he was appointed editor of the “Sunday Examiner.” He was by far the longest-serving editor of the paper, remaining in the position for 33 years until his 80th birthday on 2 January this year.
On the death of Father Fergus Cronin SJ, Father Alan took over as rector of the busy Catholic Centre Chapel.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 9 November 1990
◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
Having graduated from UCD with an Honours degree in Mathematics he was sent to Hong Kong in 1936.
He studied Cantonese in Hong Kong and then did some years of teaching in Wah Yan Hong Kong.
After Ordination in 1942 he was appointed Catholic Chaplain with the rank of Captain in the wartime British Army. He was assigned to land with the Allied force on “D-Day”, June 6th 1944. He remained with his soldiers in France, Belgium and finally Germany until mid August 1945. He was then reassigned to India until October 1946, when he returned to civilian life.
He returned to Hong Kong in February 1948and took up a post as Professor of Dogmatic Theology, and later Scripture at the Regional Seminary in Aberdeen. He also lectured in Philosophy and English Literature at the University of Hong Kong.
He was the Editor of the “Sunday Examiner” for almost 33 years (1957-1991). For more than twenty years he edited the English writings of László Ladányi in the “China News Analysis”. He also celebrated Mass regularly at St Joseph’s Church on Garden Road for over thirty years.