Remembering Fr. Sean Coghlan

Reverend Father Sean Coghlan, S.J. went peacefully to the Lord this morning at St. Paul Hospital Hong Kong at 3:17a.m. That is official and was announced by Father Stephen Chow, the Bishop Designate of Hong Kong Diocese.

Fr. Coghlan was born in Limerick, Ireland on 29 October 1933 and joined the Society of Jesus on 7 September 1951, in Ireland. He was ordained to the priesthood in July 1965 in Dublin and took his final vow in August 1970 at Wah Yan Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Fr. Coghlan first arrived Hong Kong in 1959 and went to Cheung Chau for linguistic studies, during which time he was the Form Master of a class in Wah Yan Hong Kong. After he was ordained, he returned to Hong Kong in 1967 and has been here since, so that he was proud to tell people including Su that he was white outside but yellow inside, such that he couldn’t find reasons to return to Dublin and would rather spend the rest of the time God would allow him in Hong Kong, which he did.

So he became Principal of Wah Yan College from 1988 to 1996 and was Warden of Ricci Hall from 1997 to 2010. It does mean that he was Principal when Lawrence was in Wah Yan. I cannot remember with crystal clarity how our paths crossed, but I suspect it would be through our association with the alumni, for the organization of the past students association had been such that the Principal would attend our meetings regularly. Somehow, we learnt more about each other. He liked stamps and I had worked in the Hong Kong Post Office and Su and I liked Ireland so that he would tell us where to visit when we were about to visit Ireland. Then he stayed in Ricci Hall where I spent so much time for a long period. We used to talk about various matters and he was always courteous and inspirational and above all, helpful and kind.

We exchanged views when the Church saw changes in our leadership including our Pontiffs and he was supportive when Rosita left me and when Su became part of my life.

I saw him so often after Rosita left when I went to Ricci for my daily Mass and I think we learnt more about each other through exchanging glances without having to exchange words. We had our monthly, well almost, breakfasts on First Fridays and I tried to attend his birthday lunches. He was always modest and quiet.

In the long years he served the Wah Yan and the Ricci communities, he must have affected so many people through his quiet devotion to his Faith and his spiritual directions at meetings and gatherings of laities.

I would always remember the manner and fashion in which he spread the Gospel and tried to influence others quietly but forcibly. May he rest in God’s eternal peace.

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