20190706 Message from Fr. Stephen Chow, S.J.

Dear Students, Alumni, Companions in Education, Parents and Friends of Wah Yan,

We have had a meeting of the preparation committee for the 100th and 95th Anniversaries of the two Wah Yans last evening. It was brought to our attention that the recent social movements in Hong Kong have triggered divisions and negative emotions among our alumni, students, companions in education, and friends of Wah Yan. And the undesirable effects from this negativity are starting to affect the preparation for the anniversaries. This is saddening….

It is a fact that Wah Yan is very much a part of Hong Kong. The two schools have witnessed the evolution of Hong Kong over the past 95 to 100 years. We cannot and should not be exempted from the changes that are the integral parts of transformation. In fact, we should be proud of the honor for having contributed to the transformative process of Hong Kong over the century, an endearing place where we have called our city, our home!

It is also a fact that our two schools are going to celebrate our 100th and 95th anniversaries in the academic year of 2019-2020. Is it unfortunate that we are celebrating during this turbulent time of Hong Kong? No, I see this a calling for us Wahyanites and companions, and friends of Wah Yan. Jesuit education has its basis on Ignatian spirituality. It is known that Ignatian spirituality is particularly suitable for tension. We do not see reality in a simple ‘either-or’ dichotomy, but two ends connected with tension. Because of these two ends, creativity is called forth from the tension. Imagine a rubber band, it is not useful until there is tension. When there is tension, it starts holding the object/s together, binding them. Wah Yan/Jesuit education has been championing for Unity in Diversity. That unity is the creativity yielded by the tension generated from diversity.

Remember what we have learned in school? So many things. But some important concepts that we must have learned come from the Bible. We are called to “love our enemies” and “to be the salt and light of the world”. We do not need to understand the concept of ‘enemy’ in the narrowest sense. Enemy can include our perceived opponents, those who go against our infallible perspectives and cherished values. Loving them would ask us to respect them for who they are, honor them for their rightful place in our society, and listen to them with intent in a way we want them to listen to us. Through this love for each other, we will light a candle in the darkness of our society, adding favors and colors to a dulling and dualistic social reality.

So, what can we do as Wahyanites, companions in education, and friends of Wah Yan/Jesuit education? Many Wahyanites of the recent years would remember the image of a Giraffe that I have introduced to them for being students of Jesuit schools. The symbols of a giraffe are a big heart and a long neck. The big heart is for ‘Inclusive Love.’ The long neck is for a ‘Vision’ with a far and wide horizon. Yet, the giraffe is always grounded with its feet.

This is what we can do as the salt and light of our beloved Hong Kong and our world, at a time of exploding tension. Recalling what we have learned from our experience in Wah Yan and the values that we have held so dearly to ourselves. Coming together, celebrating our unity in diversity, across generations with our young brothers, with deep listening and respect for those of us who might hold very different views than ours. With that big heart and long neck, our talents and gifts, our good listening with understanding and meaningful conversation, together we are called to contribute our creative options to Hong Kong at its critical juncture.

The upcoming celebrations of the anniversaries may very well be the platforms for this to happen among us. Our fraternity, companionship and collaboration will be inspiration for many others at this challenging time, in the coming months!

Fr. Stephen Chow, S.J.