History of Religious Congregations in Hong Kong
In order to have a better understanding of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the society of Hong Kong, the Centre initiated a project to study the history of religious orders and missionary congregations working in Hong Kong, inviting various congregations to participate in a book project to write the history of their own congregations and present a paper in a conference.
From the very beginning of the Catholic mission in Hong Kong, the Franciscans, the Dominicans, the Paris Foreign Missions, the Foreign Missions of Milan together with the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres and the Daughters of Charity of the Canossian Institute formed part of the team that started the difficult task of exploring the mission in China through Hong Kong. They were soon joined by the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the Jesuits, the Salesians and for some time even the Benedictines from England. Today, we have 45 such congregations. To study the history of these congregations will certainly provide us a comprehensive understanding of the history of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong and the relationship between the church and the society.
The main aims of this project are to explore: 1) What roles did the religious congregations take in the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese in different stages? 2) How did they respond to specific social situations according to their religious vocation?
To facilitate the research work and the writing of church history, the Centre had organized a series of seminar and workshops to examine the methods of studying church history, the development and characteristics of religious congregations, and the contributions of religious congregations to the development of Hong Kong society, by inviting local and overseas scholars to share their insights. Moreover, representatives of various congregations were invited to discuss and share their paper outlines.
With sponsorship from the United College of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Centre has hosted a conference from December 13–14, 2007 at the Chinese University of Hong Kong where scholars and members of religious congregations present papers and exchange viewpoints with other participants. Fourteen papers were presented and about 60 participants joined the conference. The conference was divided into three sessions: history of the order or congregation and their specific roles in the local church; spirituality and cultural identity; their roles in the society and their responses to specific social situations. All the papers will be published as two volumes of proceedings after editing.
A seminar is held for the second phase of this research project on 23 May 2009. This seminar is conducted in Chinese and six congregations have participated. The articles collected at the second stage will also be published, expected near the end of 2010.
Call for papers for the third phase has started in 2010. There will be a round table seminar on 11 Nov 2010, in which congregations who have submitted initial papers will be presenting on the process and difficulties of writing the initial paper. There will be also brief teachings on theories of history writing.