• Obituary: Rev. Fr. Joe Foley S.J.
  • Please join us to grieve the passing away of late Fr. Foley who left this world at 11pm 4th September 2006 (Dublin time) in his nursing home in Dublin. Fr. Joseph Foley, S.J. was born on 24th April, 1921 in Limerick, Ireland. Fr. Foley, S.J. first taught in Wah Yan College, Hong Kong in 1949 for a year, and returned again in 1955 after his tertianship up to 1962, when he became the Principal and also the Rector of the College up to 1968. He then served in Wah Yan College Kowloon from 1968 to 1970, and back to Hong Kong side in 1974 until 1978. This photograph is hardly a recent one but it is one image that many of us will always remember him by. You may all be comforted to learn that of late, many old boys have written to late Fr. Foley and a few even made the trip over especially to visit him. I am happy to report that all these made him extremely glad. One good way to measure a good teacher must be by how many old students take the trouble to visit him. From the gestures of Wahyanites, late Fr. Foley's relatives also got to learn how great a part of life Wah Yan had been to him and vice versa. They are all very proud of late Fr. Foley and were able to persoanlly sense the affection displayed by the locals a few years ago during their visit to HK.

    The funeral in Dublin was held on 7th September in the Jesuit Church Dublin. In the meantime, take stock of our fond memories for the kind man who came all the way from Ireland, who taugh us so much and made a difference in many of our lives. Enjoy the reassuring knowledge that Fr. Foley is now peacefully by God's side.

    The Requiem Mass for late Rev. Fr. J. Foley, S.J. will be held at the Cathedral, Caine Road, on 14th September, 2006 at 7:30p.m. Cardinal Zen will be the Chief Celebrant.

    - 2006.09.06

    Report from WYPSA September 2006 monthly meeting:

    After a minute of silence in memory of our beloved Rev. Fr. J. Foley S.J.,PSA advisor Maurice Lee, PP Luke Wong, and PP Peter Tam spoke of their encounter and fond memory of Fr. Foley.















    - 2006.09.11

    From Ming Pao September 12, 2006














    From South China Morning Post September 12, 2006









    - 2006.09.12

    From Hong Kong Economic Times September 14, 2006










    - 2006.09.14

    At the request of some old boys and with consent of Fr. Deignan, a memorial mass will be held for Rev. Fr. J Foley at 7p.m. 26th Sep (Tue) at the chapel of Wah Yan College HK. All are welcomed.

    - 2006.09.16

    Report on memorial mass from Kung Kao Po (そ頴釜)









    - 2006.09.24

    Sermon at the Requiem Mass for Fr. Joseph Foley S.J.
    14th September 2006
    By Fr. Alfred J. Deignan S.J.


    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    We gather here this evening to celebrate the Eucharist and to thank God for the gift of the life of Father Joseph Foley who has passed away and to pray for the repose of his soul. We remember him as he touched the lives of many of us here.

    Today happens to be the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross,
    The triumph of Christ・s love and sacrifice, over evil, sin and death. His death on the Cross has made it possible for us to join Him in the eternal happiness of Heaven.
    Father Foley is now enjoying this happiness.

    Christ has a message for us tonight as we gather together to celebrate the passing of someone we knew, loved and respected. Christ・s message is this, found in today・s Gospel : : Yes, God loved us so much that he gave us His only Son , that whoever believes in Him may not be lost but may have eternal life;
    This is a very assuring and consoling message when we believe and trust what He says.
    Again Christ said:
    :Do not be worried or upset: Believe in God, believe also in Me.
    There are many rooms in My Father・s house and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not true, And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that you will be, where I am;
    Do we believe and trust these words of Christ?
    These words contain a wonderful promise and Christ keeps His promises, that He has prepared a place for each of us, a place of eternal joy and happiness with Him forever. Our death is the way to eternal life and happiness so we should celebrate together, that Father Foley has finally reached his home safely and joyfully after a life of service.
    So this evening we celebrate the triumph of Christ・s Love for us on the Cross and the triumph which He is sharing with Father Foley through the sacrifice of his life and death.   


    Father Joseph Foley was born in Limerick in Ireland on 24th April 1921. He entered the Society of Jesus when he was 18 years old and went through the usual studies.
    He got an Arts Degree in University College Dublin and this was followed by three years of philosophy.
    He first came to Hong Kong in 1947 when he was 26 years old and studied Chinese in Canton for two years and then spent one year teaching in Wah Yan College H.K.

    He returned to Ireland to study Theology and was ordained a Priest on 31st July 1953. So he died having been 53 years a priest. In 1955 he came back to H.K. which was to be his home for 34 years. He spent one more year in Cheung Chau trying to improve his Chinese and then in 1962 he was appointed Rector and Principal of Wah Yan College H.K. He held this post from 1962 -68. He was fondly known as James Bond as people thought he looked likes Sean Connery and his office was 007.

    I knew him best during this period of his life as I worked with him as Prefect of Studies. As a newcomer in education I learned so much from him about education in H.K. about teaching and administration. I was only a raw recruit then.
    So I am very grateful to him. His example of personal care and thoughtfulness for teachers and students and of those he met or worked with, was an example and inspiration to me. So I am very grateful to him and owe him a lot.
    He loved teaching, was lively and active in class so no Student would fall asleep in his class. He participated in all the school activities and he particularly loved football, usually playing in the goal.
    He was always concerned about the character formation of the students and made great efforts to instill in them Christian values. In his concern for the formation of the students he organized groups of students to do social work for the poor, sick and the elderly during the summer months. He wished them to be willing to serve others. Of course he led them by example.
    Students in the school obviously admired him for his care for each one and his generosity, as he often visited them in their homes.
    In administration, he had wonderful analytic abilities and could sum up the main points of a book, document or article very easily. This was very useful when it came to dealing with documents from the Education Department.
    He had also a very good memory.

    He was very good at Cantonese and in his good humour used to love to make fun and joke in the language. His ability to lead was obvious as he earned the trust of teachers, staff and all with whom he worked. He won their cooperation and respect by his dedication, hard work, fairness and his friendship and care for each one.

    There was a break in his life in H.K. when he was sent in 1971 to study for a Master・s Degree in Loyola University Chicago. This was a preparation for him to take up the post of Principal of a Catholic Junior College in Singapore. When this project failed to materialize he returned to H.K. in 1973. He again taught in Wah Yan when Father Barrett was Principal until in 1977 when he was appointed by the Bishop John Baptist Wu as the first Bishop・s Delegate for Education and Chairman of the newly formed Catholic Education Board which replaced the Catholic Schools Council. There were then 309 Catholic schools in Hong Kong. This was a very challenging job. He helped to coordinate, improve and unify the system of administration in the Catholic schools of the Diocese and helped to set up the Central Management Committee of Diocesan schools. He wrote many responses to changes proposed by the Education Department on behalf of the Catholic schools after discussion with the Diocesan Schools Council and Religious Schools Council.
    After 14 years of service he resigned his post as Delegate and was succeeded by Sister Marie Remedios now Mother General of the Canossian Congregation.

    Besides Father Foley was a member of the Inter-religious Committee on Religious Broadcasting and later became the Chairman. He was commentator for the Broadcast Mass for Radio Hong Kong and often did the job of announcer and commentator in English for the Feast of Christ the King in the Government Stadium. He was Secretary in Hong Kong for the Jesuit Mass Media Apostolate and was one time Chairman of the Grant Schools Council.
    He returned to Ireland in 1992 to rest and to change his Apostolate from education to pastoral work. He served as Assistant to the Parish Priest in St. Francis Xavier・s Church in Dublin until 2000 when he took up similar work in St. Ignatius・ Church in Galway.  Early this year he began to show the effects of terminal cancer and was moved to Dublin to the Jesuit nursing home.

    When I was back in Ireland this summer I went to visit him on 18th July and again before I left on 7th August. I noticed his condition had deteriorated from the time of my first visit. He had little energy but he was very resigned, peaceful and still very humorous. He knew his life on earth was coming to a close. He wanted to know all the news about Hong Kong, about the Church, education and Wah Yan Past Students. He expressed his gratitude to all who wrote to him and sent :get-well; cards and to those especially who came all the way from Hong Kong or Canada to visit him. He knew I was going to attend the Wah Yan Alumni Conference in Vancouver and said :Tell them how I am and thank them for their kind invitation;.

    - 2006.09.28

    Former teacher in Wah Yan, Helen Lee went to visit him from Toronto and she wrote a letter to the Past Students.

        :Some of you may .cherish fond recollections of・ Father Foley. Others may remember him by his nickname 007. Fr. Foley .taught us the best things to choose・. Yes I mean .us・, including myself. As a former colleague in Wah Yan (1974-78) and a friend ever since, I have benefited much from Fr. Foley・s teachings, not just words, but in deeds as well.
        When I paid him a brief visit at the end of Jun this year, I was impressed by his calm dispositions in his illness. He was quite frail and lacked energy. Most of the time, he stayed in bed. Yet, he made quite an effort to entertain visitors. He showed much concern and consideration for others around him. He was very courteous to the staff caregivers. He lived Christ・s teaching of being meek and humble of heart.
    The alumni of 62 compiled a book entitled :To Father with Love; for him. It is a collection of photos and writings from them. Fr. Foley showed me this invaluable souvenir. As I read through it, I learned more about the good he had done for his students. It was little wonder that they held him with .love and affection・.;


    Email from Mr. Joe Toner - Nephew of Fr. Foley

    My name is Joe Toner and I am a nephew of Father Joe Foley S.J.

    I know that Hong Kong and Wah Yan were a huge part of his life.  You may recall that my wife and I called to Wah Yan in November 2000 and received a great welcome from you and the staff which was a reflection of the high esteem in which he was held.  This was very much in evidence to all the family in recent times as former students came to Ireland to visit him (on special trips) and sent cards and letters to him.  We also saw a beautiful book prepared by "the class of 1962" thanking him for the contribution he made to their lives.  Thank you one and all.

    With Best Wishes


    Joe Toner 


    Email from Mr. Denis Foley - brother of Fr. Foley

    Hello to our friends in Wah Yan Past Pupils Association, My family and I - Denis, Joe・s brother - take this opportunity to say a big "thank you" to all of you who have co mmunicated with Fr. Foley during his illness and shared our grief at his death. We are quite amazed that fifteen years after he left Hong Kong his work there is so much appreciated and his past pupils are so gracious in remembering what he did for them. We know that he was especially grateful to those who travelled to Ireland to visit him in Cherryfield Nursing Home. We had the immense pleasure in meeting some of these visitors and hearing at first hand what Joe had done for them. He - and we - were were delighted to read the book of photos and tributes which was compiled by his past students. At his funeral Mass the Celebrant Fr. Howard read one of the tributes contained in the book, which gave all the congregation an idea of the happy memories it recalled.
    We are especially grateful to you for arranging the memorial Mass on Thursday last. We were with you in spirit, as we will be for the upcoming Mass in Wah Yan.

    We have many happy memories of meeting some of you on our trips to Hong Kong and wish you every blessing on your work and lives.
    With sincere good wishes,

    Denis and Nancy Foley.


    Mr. John Tan's music dedication to Fr. Foley