It was my pleasure and honor to be at the 7th world reunion of the alumnae of Maryknoll Sister’s School in Hong Kong on February 19, 2010. Although I lived in Hong Kong for many years, I never had a chance to visit Maryknoll Sister’s School in Hong Kong nor the Maryknoll Convent School in Kowloon . How did I get connected?
My first intimate contact with them was in 2003, November 23, Feast of Christ the King, when the Maryknoll Alumnae , both MSS and MCS, had their annual reunion in San Francisco, and I was invited to preside at the Eucharist Celebration, and the same time they invited also the students from other Catholic schools in Hong Kong to join. Since then, I have been invited to almost every annual reunion of the Maryknoll Alumnae Association of California , a MCS and MSS combined association. Although I would love see the inside of this prestigious school, I had no sufficient reason to visit.
By the constant encouragement and persuasion of the Bay Area alumnae, plus the fact that I happened to be in Beijing during that time, I embraced the opportunity, and took a short flight from Beijing.
The Maryknoll Sisters arrived in Hong Kong in 1927 to start their education mission under the name Holy Spirit School. It was closed during the war, and reopened in 1948 under the name Maryknoll .
In 1978, Maryknoll Sisters primary and secondary School in Hong Kong ‘s administration was handed over to the Columban Sisters and the two schools were renamed Marymount in 1983. The immediate reason is, as most people would understand, because of shortage of vocations to the sisterhood. But on the other hand, this is in observance of Pope Benedict XV encyclical Maximum Illud – The missionaries’ primary duty is to educate the local people, and prepare them for leadership. Once this is done, they should recede and hand over.
It was an emotional moment, to see a few of the retired Sisters, who taught there, returned from their retirement home in Monrovia , California and Maryknoll in New York for this occasion, were enthusiastically embraced by their past student with great affection. One Sister, in wheelchair, was unable to come. She sent her taped message. It was received with endless applause.
After the opening address in the MPS hall, we were led by the student ambassadors to visit the schools in both primary and secondary schools. The delightful students were anxious to show us around. Although the Maryknoll Sisters have left some years ago, the Maryknoll spirit continues, just what Pope Benedict XV had wanted.
The lunch that followed was delicious and served with warmth. There were disappointments about the weather before the celebration began – it was an unusually cold, windy and rainy day for this season – but no one seems to feel it once the celebration began.
I am grateful to the opportunity to visit the Marymount Primary and Secondary School and it has increased my admiration for the missionary work. I pray that the spirit of Maryknoll will stay, and I pray that God will continue to bless these schools, their alumnae in Hong Kong, overseas, and specially those in the San Francisco Bay area. May they remain and continue to be together and continue their good work for the Lord, His Church and for the society.