Speech at the St Paul’s Primary Catholic School & St Paul’s Secondary School’s 50th Anniversary – Open Day Exhibition
18 December 2010 (Saturday)
St Paul’s Primary Catholic School & St Paul’s Secondary School’s
50th Anniversary – Open Day Exhibition
Speech by Mr Michael M Y SUEN, GBS, JP
Secretary for Education
Mother Jacqueline Ho, Sr Lily Fung, Ms Wu, Mrs Lee, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen and Girls :
I am honoured to have been invited to speak to you all today, joining you in your schools’ comprehensive golden jubilee celebration activities. I would like to thank and congratulate the schools for providing quality education to Hong Kong since their inception.
Establishing a high standard of education is no easy feat in itself, maintaining it for half a century is even more challenging. Both St Paul’s Primary Catholic School and St Paul’s Secondary School are fine examples of this category of outstanding schools in Hong Kong. I must congratulate the school sponsoring body for its total commitment and its unyielding support provided to the team of dedicated teaching staff because they believe that this provides for the underlying force which drives both schools to nurture generations of outstanding graduates, serving Hong Kong in every way imaginable.
Today is the “Open Day for St Paul’s Secondary and Primary Catholic School”. Today, you open up yourselves to the public for them to visit your campuses, admire your beautiful college architecture, meet with principals and have a chance to talk to the teaching staff, as well as students and alumni.
I am thrilled to see your schools being so open about yourselves, and so welcoming to public’s scrutiny.
Open day provides a valuable opportunity for families and friends, especially former students to gather and catch up with each other, to reminisce about the good old days, to share stories that were once too awkward to tell, but now too selfish not to. To make those long overdue confessions about trivial wrong deeds they have committed, and perhaps to return to the very classrooms where many happy and carefree days were spent, reading, writing or simply horse-playing.
Some might even go so far as to avail themselves of another opportunity to sit in the chairs as they once did decades ago, holding the exact poses and smiles for the camera the way they once did so casually, while in school uniforms.
Every time I return to my old school, the most vivid memories of the school are the tuck shop and the music room. The tuck shop because of the noodle in beef gravy that was on offer on a cold winter morning like today to keep one warm. And the music room brought back memories of my initiation to classical music on every other Monday evening and the snack of coffee and sandwiches served afterwards by the Jesuit Fathers. It sometimes brings my mind back to the teachers who once made my life most difficult. I wish to thank them for reining me in from my wayward behaviour and instilling in me the correct attitude towards life.
I also want to share with you my thoughts on what will happen to you all sitting in front of me in this hall. I can tell you for sure that upon finishing school it is more than likely that you will forget much of the academic contents taught and studied. Don’t feel despaired. It is only human nature that the things you tried hardest to remember are also those that get crowded out of your mind the fastest. What remain stuck in your memories are the values and beliefs of the school. These values are often infused around the school deeper than what our naked eyes can see. These are messages encoded in frequencies beyond what our ears can hear. These values and beliefs are scattered throughout the physical and spiritual presence of the school and they constantly communicate with each and every student here.
I am sure these values will stay with you forever. In my view, this is how it should be, because at the end of the day these values are the core elements of education. George Savile – an English statesman, writer and politician from the 17th Century would surely agree, because it was he who once said:
“Education is what remains when we have forgotten all that we have been taught.”
In other words, it is the legacy of the schools that keeps graduates on track once they leave the fortress of St Paul’s, and it is the legacy of St Paul’s Primary Catholic School & St Paul’s Secondary School that I want to turn my attention to now.
Your legacy of half a century, founded on Faith, Hope and Charity, had given so much to the society. Virtually everywhere we go, there can be found footprints of the Paulinian DNA, and in many significant positions in various professions, there can be traced footsteps of the Paulinian spirit. Countless numbers of your distinguished alumni have helped build Hong Kong as we see it today, and I have no doubt countless more will serve to build an even better Hong Kong tomorrow.
Why are Faith, Hope and Charity so important? Through embracing Faith we learn to trust, and with trust we learn to live without fear. I see that Paulinians have strong faiths in themselves and trust in their capabilities. It is with the presence of these attributes that we can live and work together as a strong and coherent team.
Through providing Hope we stimulate drive, a drive to live, to improve and to succeed. It is with the possession of these drives that prevents us from running for cover in the face of danger, it is with these drives that propels us beyond seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Through practising Charity we exercise compassion. We live in a society where the weak, the poor and the old share the same planet as the strong, the rich and the young. It is with the ability to share and love that helps the needy, bridge inequalities, and bond generations.
It is not surprising then, to see so many of your graduates excelling in various aspects of life. Because whether you are being judged as a student, a friend, a mother, or a colleague, having a trustworthy character, a kind and loving heart, plus a driven attitude is bound to make you very popular.
To those who have walked through the gates of these schools, I urge you to hold onto these timeless and precious values, and to practice them whenever you can, for they will make you a better person.
To the schools, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to expose myself to your core values. I will try to see, listen, touch and breathe as much as I can while here, so that I will walk out of these gates a better person.