WORLDWIDE GATHERING OF MCS & MSS ALUMNAE , 2007
“THE LORD IS MY LIGHT”
By Sr. Mary Lou Teufel
My dear former students and all here, it’s wonderful to be here with you at this celebration. My name is Sr. Mary Lou Teufel, known to many as Sister Maryam. Since many of you don’t know me, I’ll give you a brief introduction to myself and to your school, MSS, dating back 80 years.
I entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1954, and in 1957, one year after my novitiate was over, I received my first assignment – to Hong Kong! I was happy about this as I had visited Hong Kong in 1953 and liked it very much. At that time, Hong Kong had only three buildings that were higher than ten floors. I loved the ride on the Peak Tram and looking down on the whole city. I was also attracted by the lovely beaches on the south side of the Island. The people were so friendly, even though I didn’t know a word of Chinese.
I was assigned to teach at Maryknoll Sisters School on Caine Rd. and arrived in the middle of September. The new school being built on Blue Pool Road was only half finished. My first day to teach on Caine Road, it was raining and a treacherous typhoon was on its way. By afternoon, all the students were sent home, and I returned to Maryknoll Convent in Kowloon. The typhoon caused the Caine Road School to be soaked and badly damaged. It could not be reopened. Permission was received to move into the school, into the completed section at Blue Pool Road. That consisted of the central section and the four floors above the covered playground. We Sisters moved into the 4thFloor and on October 2nd, we stood on the veranda and watched the truck-loads of furniture being brought from Caine Rd, again being soaked by the rain that was falling. In a few days, things were dried out again and in place. The school re-started!
This was the beginning of my understanding and appreciation of Hong Kong, it’s life in general, and it’s schools and students in particular. I had much to learn. The first school, Maryknoll Convent School, (MCS) had its beginnings in 1925, with a kindergarten for 12 Portuguese children. Classes were held in a garage at their residence on Austin Rd. in Kowloon.
MSS, known then as “Holy Spirit School” had its beginning in 1927, with a kindergarten at 41 Robinson Rd. In 1930 they moved into a three-story building on Caine Rd. In a few years there were twelve nationalities in the Kindergartens. Word had spread about the Kindergartens and many applied for their children to enter. In both places, grade after grade was added on, developing eventually into the schools as we know them today. After World War II “Holy Spirit School” became “Maryknoll School,” and then “Maryknoll Sisters School” or “MSS” and now today “Marymount Secondary School”, still “MSS”. The schools continued to have girls of many nationalities and to accept Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
First, a little bit more History, Ancient History. When the Maryknoll Sisters first came to Hong Kong in 1921, it wasn’t their intention to open schools or a hospital. Hong Kong was to be a support post for the Missions up-country. But the subsequent program of works that developed surely must have had God’s approval, judging by their need and on-going success right up until today!
But the pictures presented during WW II were different from during your student days. Before the bombing of the American Fleet at Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 11th, 1941 , Hong Kong was long endangered by the threat of Japanese invasion, as the territory was considered an English possession. Many people, including Christian Missionaries volunteered to be trained for emergency, care of wounded, emergency housing, healing and feeding the refugees. In the end, the Japanese troops came on August 8, 1941. Hong Kong surrendered on Christmas Day. Many foreigners, according to their country of origin, were eventually held in a section of Stanley Prison. Some, later on, returned to the USA on the Grippsholm in exchange of prisoners. The Japanese occupied both MCS and the building at Caine Rd. By 1943, most of the Sisters were released from Stanley Prison and some of them left on repatriation, but others remained. The Caine Rd. School Building was retaken in August, 1948.
A few months ago, December 2006, I received in the mail a sheet out of the South China Morning Post. It was a whole sheet in color about Marymount. The title was: “VERY HAPPY IN THE VALLEY”, written after the school’s evaluation, itself with government personnel. It read:
“MARYMOUNT SECONDARY is a very good school whose culture is characterized by a strong sense of identity and community……..….the principal provides strong and skillful leadership……teaching and student learning is very good.”
With these words the community at the Happy Valley school – from principal to parents – could cough a sigh of relief. They held in their hands an external school review that they could be proud of, with useful pointers as to how the school could move forward. Not many schools receive such a glowing accolade. We certainly can take pride in the school’s accomplishment, and support her in her great service of education.
I always considered myself “blessed” because I ended up in Hong Kong, and at Blue Pool Road. When I arrived at Caine Road, and just a few days later at Blue Pool Road, I found the girls at MSS pleasant, eager to learn, and to do well in their classes and exams. They looked forward to recess and getting together with their friends to enjoy fun and laughter. For them too, it was a period of “exploration”, curiosity about many things, about the “unknown”. Where did this world come from? ...and where did we come from? What is science all about? Where do the stories and beliefs from the Chinese and other varied backgrounds fit in? And, what about faith and religion? Those beginning days were happy days, innocent days, sometimes carefree days in which you were learning, forming bonds with other students, with your teachers and with your school. Do you know all the answers now? It’s safe to say that none of us know all the answers, but you and I have learned very much.
With good guides and good guidelines, hopefully our parents and teachers came within this category. They should have given us a good start in early life. We also need good friends to strengthen us along the way.
What are some other guideposts along the way? I was looking through a booklet of “Chinese Thoughts”. One of them took my attention, especially.
About 500 years before Christ, Tsu Kung asked, “Is there one word that I can use all my life as a model for my behavior?” The Master answered, “The word ‘RECIPROCITY’ should do, what you do not want or do to yourself, you must not do to others.” “Reciprocity” – Isn’t that very similar to what Jesus taught us 500 years later?
Matthew, Ch. 7 Vs.12: “Do for others what you want them to do for you.”
John, Ch. 34: As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
salm 96v. 25 -27: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
The quotes from the Bible bring in the quality of “Love”.
And then we have your School Motto: “THE LORD IS MY LIGHT “.
All these above sayings call for time and reflection. But we know,from the many graduates who have visited us at Maryknoll, those we have heard about and read about, that MSS and MCS can be very proud of their graduates, and all they are doing to make this a better world for others.
On an airplane trip a few weeks ago, I was reflecting on one of the psalms, the line: “Teach us to number our days, that we may know “Wisdom of Heart”. Here it is 2007, 50 years since I was first assigned to Blue Pool Road. Do a little arithmetic with that. But, keep that “wisdom of heart” in mind. Many of you had been privileged to attend school at a very good one, MCS, MSS or another. Be grateful and give thanks for it. I’d like to give an “Eternally Grateful ThankYou” to Sr. Sheila and the Columban Sisters and Staff for accepting the responsibility for MSS for more than twenty years. God provided at a time when the Maryknoll Sisters were not able. We can all take pride in Marymount Secondary School, and its graduates.
An additional “Thank You” goes to the Christian Life Community who have accepted responsibility for the School since 1998. Marymount has been very successful.
These good wishes include all at MCS who are working for the education of the students of Hong Kong.
~ Sr. Mary Lou Teufel
Maryknoll Sixth Worldwide Reunion
By Zella Remedios Kotala
“Thank you Maryknoll Sisters for
Your Vision in Education,
Your Dedication to Humanity,
Your Commitment to World Mission.”
Maryknoll Sixth Worldwide Reunion
By Zella Remedios Kotala
“Thank you Maryknoll Sisters for
Your Vision in Education,
Your Dedication to Humanity,
Your Commitment to World Mission.”
These words were written by two siblings who attended Maryknoll Convent School in Kowloon in the ‘60’s and sums up for most of us as to why we’ve had 6 worldwide reunions in the past 14 years.
We appreciate, thank and love our wonderful Maryknoll Sisters, 14 of whom were with us on our 3 day cruise to Ensenada, Mexico, on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Monarch of the Seas on August 3rd, 2007, along with a Columban Sister and an alumnae that is now a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
There were about 400 participants who joined us on this first of its kind reunion, some with their spouses and families. There was even a male former student who had attended our kindergarten class, who came with his wife. The Executive Committee was ably led by Kathy Chu Giannini MCS and Magdalen Yum MSS. Alumnae from MSS Sister’s School were invited to join the reunion for the first but hopefully not the last time. Our co-chair persons par excellence were assisted by 13 board members who spent many hours on the phone teleconferencing, and included were alumnae who lived in the Midwest, New York and Eastern and Western Canada.
Among the many activities on board were talks given by a few of our graduates. “Hidden Messages in Chinese Art” was beautifully presented by Teresa Tse Bartholomew and the “Healing Touch,” an informative energetic approach to Hands on Healing presented by Teresa Siu Wong and the Maryknoll Mentor Program.
For many, the highlight of the reunion was the Reunion Mass celebrated by Maryknoll priest Father Louis J. Nichols. Several of the Sisters read and were Eucharistic Ministers. Fatima de Roza Gomes did an outstanding job of leading the angelic choir that sang so harmoniously several well chosen familiar hymns. The mass concluded with the entire congregation giving us their rendition of our rousing school songs. There was hardly a dry eye among the alumnae who are usually touched by the stirring words of our alma maters, our praises sung to our inspiration, the Holy Virgin Mary, and our loving testimony to our schools and to Her.
As everyone who’s enjoyed a cruise knows - the food on board is delicious and plentiful with a wide variety of choices. Three hour breakfasts, lunches and dinners were enjoyed, with friends dropping by to chat. Some were able to spend time to play cards and also got caught up with news. There were games to play, dances to participate such as the Salsa and Line Dances, karaoke to sing along. There was even a Casino on board the ship! I was told that two of our Maryknollers hit jackpots! A pleasant excursion around Ensenada, Mexico, was enjoyed by some while others caught a bus and explored town on their own.
Since our last reunion in 2004, held in New York City, this reunion has also evolved into a fundraising event for the retired Sisters. A Maryknoll Sisters Alumnae Phone Card from which the Sisters receive 20% of the proceeds was established, and a raffle was held with many fine prizes donated by some of our Executive Board Members as well as by other alumnae in the form of jewelry - jade necklace, jade and diamond brooch, black pearl necklace and a pearl brooch. A alumni also hand knitted a beautiful baby blanket and baby shoes for a lucky winner! The first prize was a weekend of fun and first class dining and accommodations donated by Moira Richards Conzelman (MCS class of 1966), owner of the Harmonique Winery, and the Mendocino Hotel. Agnes Wong (MCS 1961) was the lucky first prize winner. Sister Teresa Leung wrote us to confirm that so far the Committee has raised $20,686.89.
Each Maryknoller received a gift of a beautiful silk tote bag with jade stoppers. A silk scarf in blue and white was also included, with a luggage tag, all with MCS and MSS logos. In addition, the committee gave to each participant a magnet of the MCS building, lovingly brought over by Sister Jeanne Houlihan, one of our keynote speakers.
We are now looking forward to the next worldwide reunion in 2010 which will be held in Hong Kong and hosted by the HK Maryknoll Former Students’ Associations. We wish it the success and fun we had on this 6th Reunion. God Bless.
~ Zella Remedios Kotala
6th Maryknoll Worldwide 2007 Reunion
MCS/MSS Alumnae in Union
By Sr. Teresa Leung
September 6, 2007
My dearest Kathy, Magdalen, Angela, Pearl, Moira, Judy, Maria Fatima, Raquel, Zella, Celine, Angelina, Fernanda, Maria-Elena, Wendy and Una,
On behalf of the Maryknoll Sisters, I would like to express our thanks to you for organizing the 2007 Worldwide Reunion of MCS and MSS on a cruise though I know my words will never be adequate to express our deepest appreciation and admiration of you.
This was a great historic event: joining the two Maryknoll Schools together to share the same Maryknoll spirit of appreciation for each other, reminiscing fond memories, sharing life experiences of joy and sorrow and exchanging creative ideas. Above all, this event enabled all of us to touch base with each other, to meet family members, to enjoy one another and even to worship together.
By this reunion, you have enabled us to renew our friendship, to deepen our relationships for one another, to offer our energy, time, and moral support in order to care for each other. We all cherish the fond memories of such a significant Reunion. With the help of the beautifully clear Group Photo, we will treasure the relationship all the more.
You were energetic, enthusiastic, dedicated and committed and were ready to take up any challenge. What you have accomplished was a tremendous task, if not a nightmare come true! But you embraced the whole package with ease and excitement. Your PR and years of experience in organizing and pulling off different activities have resulted in an outstanding success.
Though Maryknoll trained all of you to be self-starters and chiefs, you also knew how to compromise and be compatible in working as a team. You knew how to plan and work in a great scale and yet you knew how to attend to details.
Your sense of commitment to bring the two schools together and to assist others to renew and revitalize the Maryknoll spirit of generosity is very evident. Under your leadership, all your helpers were happy and willing to perform to the best of their ability. I am especially happy to know the members of the Planning Committee were from different parts of the world. Even the choir with the angelic voices was inclusive. Whoever heard of having choir rehearsals via conference calls! Thanks to such a creative Director as Maria Fatima de Roza Gomes and the Organist, we were able to celebrate a beautiful and prayerful Eucharistic Liturgy.
The raffle was doubtless a great success with those precious and attractive prizes, thanks to the generous original donors. And the donations of prizes for the auction were such a wonderful surprise, too.
The souvenirs are meaningful and practical with the logos of the two schools. The Sisters who attended the Reunion and the Sisters at home cherish them with great sentiments.
Due to your expertise and efficiency, everything went smoothly beginning with the registration, reservation, transportation, accommodations to the last minute changes. No one could possibly have handled this better than what you have done! A special ‘thank you’ to all, especially to Wendy Segal!
The activities were also very instructional, informative, practical and enjoyable. The program was artistically formatted and printed and the phone cards were well advertised and sold. The food for all the meals onboard was delicious and sumptuous.
I am sure there were thousands of other tasks behind the scenes which were essential to the success. To those responsible for them, I convey a million warm and heart-felt ‘thank you’s’.
The Sisters who went on the Cruise were very happy for the opportunity. For most of them, it was their first and it would be their last experience. Now they can say they have had the experience.
We are grateful to the sponsors for taking care of the Sisters’ expenses. We appreciate all the special arrangements the sponsors and the Planning Committee members prepared for us, transporting us to and from Monrovia, picking us up/taking us to airports or reimbursing us for the transportation to Monrovia and giving each one of us a red packet. Thank you also for the souvenirs. The bags and the shawls are attractive and practical. The two logos on them will certainly remind us of this meaningful event.
The Sisters at home were also very excited about the Reunion. They could not hear enough of it and they love the souvenirs too, thanks to your thoughtfulness.
Thank you once more for all your hard work in bringing the former students, teachers and Sisters together to have a wonderful time. You were great in your generosity of giving your energy, time, expertise, moral and financial support to make this event possible.
We are most grateful for the generous donations and the proceeds. As of this date, you have raised $20,686.89 for us. You always remember and support us. We need you and we appreciate your love, care and concern. Congratulations to you for the great success!
Please be assured of our grateful prayers for you and your families.
Most sincerely yours,