Good afternoon. I was elected as the Chairperson by the Council in November of last year, succeeding Barbara Hung who stepped down after her maximum 6 years as Chairperson. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Barbara. Barbara is iconic at Maryknoll, not only because of her record-breaking athletic achievements since her student days, but because her heart has never left Maryknoll. She has given 200% of herself to serve the school, with passion, with loyalty. Very big shoes to fill, both figuratively and literally. Thank you, Barbara, for what you’ve done for the school, and for what you’ve done in guiding me.
I also want to thank our Honorary Advisors – Sr Jeanne, Madame, as well as Helen and Kenzie. It’s been a lot of learning for me in the past 10 months, and they are so generous with their time whenever I needed to seek counsel and advice from them.
And our Council members. I truly feel that I’ve been surrounded by an “A” team, a team of hearts, of kindred spirits, so generously and selflessly devoting their time and effort to the School.
In particular, I’d like to thank Maggie Chau and Isabelle Young, who have served their maximum terms on the Council, and who have both given beyond their call of duty. Thank you.
As the Chairperson of the School Sponsoring Body, I always remind myself and the Council that it is our duty to deliver on the Objects of the Foundation, as laid out by the Founding Sisters. Simple, powerful, but require continuous focus and interpretation in an ever-changing external environment and education landscape.
And the Four Strategic Foci, deriving from the Vision & Mission statements of our charter, underpinned by our Catholic Faith.
The Four Strategic Foci, together with the Four Strategic Pillars, should always be our guiding principles.
With the Objectives and The Guiding Principles as the Framework, we’ve set ourselves the following work priorities:
1.Engagement of Members and with the Maryknoll Community
Many Maryknollers are confused with what the Foundation does, as we are the youngest Mayknoll body, compared to the FSA or the Trust. Thus, we have made engagement of our Members and with the Maryknoll community two important work priorities for us. We’ve started something new this year: launching our FB page and the Fireside Chat series, amongst others. Christina Chan and Maggie Chau will share what we’ve done on these two fronts as part of their committee reports.
Here, I would like to thank the School, Melaine and Doris for offering a lot of support, as well as our senior Maryknoll alumnae like Maria Lee and Helen Yu for going in front of the camera to share the stories about the Sisters and about how the Foundation came along. We do have plans for more interesting sessions ahead! Stay tuned.
2. Framework for preserving and enhancing the essence of Maryknoll education
We are all very proud of the Maryknoll spirit. But what does it mean? What are the core characteristics, ethos, virtues and values that we are so proud of, that we want to never disappear from our DNA. This is especially worth studying when our teachers, students no longer have the benefit of having Maryknoll sisters as colleagues or as on campus teachers. Therefore, we’ve started this Taskforce. Julia Leung, a key member of the Taskforce, will share the report on this initiative.
3. Campus and infrastructure
On Campus and Infrastructure, mainly the Boundary Street Convent which the Sisters handed the keys to us in 2019, we have some latest news about the structure and what we need to do with it. Sylvia Lam, our new Councillor, will report on this.
4. Convent attic heritage conservation project
Finally, if it is with bricks we build our school, it is with love we enrich its spirit. It is so evident from this Conservation Project. At the Convent Building, we discovered a hidden attic and found loads of artefacts. We got some money from Lord Wilson Heritage Trust to do conservation, but we needed volunteers. Many volunteers. And it was amazing: once we publicized this project, 279 volunteers came forward – thank you to many of you sitting here. Such was the love for the School, such was the strong Maryknoll spirit. Doris Kwan and Irene Li will do the report on this amazing project, as part of our Engagement with Maryknoll Community report. Irene will also do the Trademark Committee report.
Now, I will hand over the mic to Christina Chan and Maggie Chau to report on our first and second work priorities.
Engagement of Members
Good afternoon, I am Christina Chan, Convenor of the Communications Committee. I am most happy to report that during the past year, the Communications Committee has been collaborating closely with the Membership Committee in support of the Foundation’s first and foremost work priority – engagement with our Foundation Members.
We have listened carefully to feedbacks from fellow members of different generations, and learned that a lot of our alumnae did not fully understand the roles and responsibilities of the Foundation as the School Sponsoring Body. We have therefore launched a Fireside Chat series, designed as conversations with Maryknollers from different generations. The inaugural episode, The First Hello, was successfully held via Zoom in April. This episode featured our first lay Chairperson, Helen Yu, and our current Chairperson, Cordelia, and was moderated by veteran programmehost and an alumna herself, Sandy Lamb. Over 60 alumnae (both local and overseas) participated in this cosy online gathering with live exchanges to learn more about the Foundation.
Building on the success of the first episode, we immediately set off to work on second episode, The UnBRICKable Ties. Over 100 alumnae registered for this episode, which took place in July. This time, we focused on the history of Maryknoll Convent School, and had the honour of inviting Dr Maria Lee (a former Secondary Supervisor) to share with us the school’s rich history and her insider stories with Maryknoll sisters during her school years in the 1960s. As the moderator for this episode, working alongside a secondary student and a primary student, I had the privilege of working closely with Dr Lee, doing a lot of research and identifying valuable photos from the archive – and in doing so, learnt so much more about the history of Maryknoll and in particular, how our Sisters’ dedication to our education and our soul touched the hearts of many.
We have uploaded both episodes onto the Foundation website and our Youtube channel. If you have missed them, please visit our website for the re-run.
Currently, we are working on Episode #3 with a focus on Maryknoll of today. This episode will feature our two Supervisors from Secondary and Primary sections, Ophelia and Amy – so please stay tuned!
Apart from the Fireside Chat series, we also launched the Foundation Facebook Page on 12 February, the first day of the Year of the Ox, where Cordelia and her team sent CNY greetings to our members. This short video clip had over 3,300 reaches and generated over 100 Likes and Shares across the social media!
Since then, Maggie Chau and her Facebook team have periodically uploaded stories according to our content planner centered around membership engagement programmes, the Four Strategic Foci and the Four Development Pillars. We also reported on student activities (e.g. Easter programmes, May Crowning and Speech Day) with the support from both sections – so a big Thank You to both Melaine and Doris for your staunch support, as always. We will continue to keep the community alive on social media.
I will now pause here and pass the mic to Maggie, who will share with you the impact of all our communication and engagement efforts as well as the growth of the Foundation membership.
Membership is about connecting people, and our goal is to create a common platform for like-minded peers to work together, collaborating and giving back to the School which we love. With a new cabinet coming into office, we have moved with times, adapted to the changing preferences and habits of our members, and managed to achieve a lot more social media exposure.
Looking at this chart, you can see how our membership has grown steadily in the past 17 years. As of this month, we just passed our 900-members mark! Our membership profile is hugely diversified – from artists to arborists, therapists to theologists; there are probably Maryknollers in all industries we know as well as industries we don’t know! Yet, when they answered the call to serve, it was always done with humility: “I’m happy to help!” Simple and sincere.
So how do we connect with members? I can see three commonalities:
1. Common Root
For many of us, the common denominator has to be the Maryknoll Sisters. When they set up the Foundation, they called and we answered. They passed the baton and we took it. They left us the legacy and we promised to continue. Thank you, Sisters, for setting up the Foundation to continue the Maryknoll education. Many people join the Foundation because in it, we are able to find our common root – the Maryknoll Sisters.
Even for members who did not benefit from Sisters as on-campus teachers, one of the most common reasons in many Foundation membership application forms we received is “I am grateful to the school for shaping me into who I am today”. That’s the reason why they want to give back to the School. That’s the reason why they want to join the Foundation and volunteer, each in their own way, to support the School, so that future generations can also benefit from the Sisters’ legacy – a Maryknoll education. The values we learnt, the stories we shared. This is the beauty of sharing a common root.
2. Common goal
Let me ask a question: What is the School’s next milestone…in about 4 years’ time? Our Centenary of course!
These photos were taken during our first Maryknoll Community Gathering on 14 August, which I hope would be the first among many collaboration opportunities as we stride towards our Centenary in 2025. Different organisations within the Maryknoll family – the Foundation, MCS Educational Trust, the Former Students Association, and the Primary and Secondary sections – came together with a common goal to serve, and to share our vision for our alma mater as she moves towards her Centenary. We brainstormed ideas on the purpose, theme and activities for our big celebration. It was a happy occasion – we exchanged ideas, we sang, and we instantly connected with rapport and passion.
3. Common passion
Passion is the bedrock of connection; I see this as our third commonality. When we serve with passion, it is infectious, and others are drawn to come back to contribute positively. Being able to serve with passion for a common goal, and to work among like-minded peers, is invigorating. Speaking of passion, let me take a moment to thank my partner Antoinette, Co-convenor of the Membership Committee, and our recruitment team members, Belinda Leung, Barbara Hung, Miranda Poon, Irene Li, Isabelle Young, Kitty Tung, Elliot Chung, Michelle Ko, Angel Kwan, and Jessica Wong.
Thanks to our passionate team, the Membership Committee has been able to keep connecting people and bringing them together under one roof, to bond and build, to connect minds and to ignite hearts. One good example is the Convent Conservation Project, which literally and figuratively brought home many Maryknollers under the vaulted roof of the Boundary Street Convent. You will hear more on this from Doris and Irene shortly, but before I pass on the mic to them, let me say this: if you feel this same connection, please be our messenger. Remember our common root and our common goal, and help us grow with Member Get Member! Bring a member in today!
Maryknoll Community Engagement
Good afternoon, I am Doris Kwan, a former Councillor, a current member of the Convent Committee and the co-Ordinator for the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust sponsored project – Habits and Haberdashery – Uncovering History and Heritage in the Hidden Attic (文物復現，繡閣猶馨).
Good afternoon, I am Irene Li, a current Councillor. I am Doris’ partner in this project.
We believe most of you have heard about this conservation project – thanks to those who volunteered in this project! For those who are not so familiar, we are working on a project to preserve the history and heritage of the Maryknoll Sisters. In particular, the Maryknoll Sisters once used the Boundary Street Convent as a sewing workshop for vestments, and we have recently uncovered some artefacts relating to the sewing workshop in a hidden attic above the false ceiling. To fund this project, the Foundation applied to the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust, and our application was successful. We received 100% of our estimated cost, and were given 18 months to complete the project (from mid July to January 2023), which will include training volunteers to perform conservation/repair works, producing a documentary, and organizing talks, exhibitions and docent tours to help promote the understanding of the history and heritage of Hong Kong.
It has been an honour and privilege to participate in this project, and it was the connection that touched our hearts most – the connection of the past and present, through oral history, written records, and hand-drawn patterns that tell a story; the connection between the hard work and the laughter of those who worked in the sewing workshop back then and the volunteers working in the conservation project now…working in the same space, under the same roof, handling, packing and unpacking, rolling and unrolling the same materials that are 70 years old – these are truly amazing stories! There was also the connection between the Maryknoll Sisters, the Foundation, the alumnae, the students, the teachers, the parents – all working together in this project, bonding and building. There were sessions that doubled up as class/buddy reunions, there were cross-generation bonding and exchanges – the Maryknoll spirit permeated in the air in all these conservation sessions!
Also, just like how the Maryknoll Sisters taught women sewing skills at the sewing workshop back then, the conservation project provided an opportunity for our volunteers to learn new skills (conservation/repair works) – so there was a connection there too. We uncovered more than 3,700 invoices dating from 1949 to 1970, around 450 pieces of embroidery patterns, and more than 130 sets of tea cups, saucers and dishes, as well as boxes of well-preserved sewing accessories and embroidery frames. To preserve these artefacts, we provided training to volunteers, not just on conservation skills but also on photography and video production, so that documentaries on the history of the sewing workshop as well as the conservation process could be produced and shared in exhibitions and docent tours in the future. These photos provide a glimpse of the exciting works we did during the conservation project. May the spirit of service continue to glow within us!
I (Irene Li) would also like to take this opportunity to give a short report as Convenor of the Trademark Committee.
In May 2019, one Mr Ma Ning attempted to register our school name (Maryknoll and 瑪利諾) and our school crest in China. After two years of working with our China attorney, our opposition against his attempted registrations of our Trademarks has gained good progress. We now got two trademarks, namely the name Maryknoll and our school crest, registered under Foundation’s name in China, with the third one 瑪利諾 in the final appeal stage.
To protect our trademarks against third party infringements, we need to show proof of use. However, in the past year, in part due to Covid, there was limited opportunity for using our trademarks in souvenir production and sales. To encourage usage, we have recently simplified the approval procedure for use of our trademarks. These guidelines can be found on the Foundation website. So here, I would like to appeal to our Maryknoll community to support the use of our trademarks in the production of souvenirs for your fund raising efforts and class reunions.
I would now like to pass the mic to Julia, who will share with you the work that our Taskforce has done in preserving and enhancing the ethos of Maryknoll education.
Good afternoon, I am Julia Leung, a Councillor of the Foundation.
As you have heard earlier on, the objects of the Foundation are: 1. to be the school sponsoring body of the Catholic girls schools known as Maryknoll Convent school…; 2. to provide all-round, affordable and quality education for girls in accordance with the Vision and Mission; and 3. to promote Christian values in a school setting.
In 2005, the Maryknoll Sisters transferred the sponsorship of the School to lay persons – some former students of Maryknoll, to provide guidance to the School Management in fulfilment of these objects. Earlier this year, Cordelia, as the Chairperson of the Council, formed a Taskforce to create and implement a framework for preserving and enhancing the essence of Maryknoll education.
It is important to note that we are not reinventing the wheels here. We already have much of that spirit and ethos captured in our Values and Creed, and in the School’s vision and mission statement. Also, we have Supervisors and School Management led by Principals who have been practising and implementing the very essence of Maryknoll spirit in their day-to-day administration and teaching. Yet, the Council sees a need to capture the policies and good practices into a framework of the past 100 years, and institutionalize them for the next 100 years to come.
So how do we do it?
First, we sought the wise counsel of Maryknoll sisters. We drew inspirations from Sr Marilu, Sr Sue and the Spiritual Formation Committee and Sr Jeanne.
We also met with Brother Patrick from La Salle College, Mr Peter Yu and Dr So Ying Lun from missionary schools run by the Salesians and the Jesuits, Dr Yip Chee Tim from Pui Ching Middle School, and Ms Amy Chan from Marymount.
What we learned was that, while many missionary schools focused, and continue to focus, on education with ample guidance from the Head Office on education philosophies and themes that are systematically worked into school curricula and school policies, Maryknoll Sisters were founded as foreign missionary. The Sisters are unique in that they are not specialists in education – they just go to where they are needed.
In order to capture the Maryknoll spirit, which is the spirit of Catholicism with a special bent, we go back to our roots, starting with the nine characteristics of the spirituality of Mother Mary Joseph, the foundress of the Maryknoll Sisters. These characteristics include Individuality and Common Good, and Unity of Spirit and Diversity of Gifts. We then conduct a gap analysis to see how we could map Mother Mary Joseph’s spirituality into the School’s Vision and Mission, Values and Creed, and eventually into school policies and practices.
In terms of next steps, we formed three workstreams, as shown in this slide. I, working in conjunction with Christina Lee and Maureen Chow, hope to complete our gap analysis by the end of this year and organise a sharing session with the Councillors. In the meantime, the two Supervisors are performing a stocktake of existing school policies, which will form the basis for high level policies, baseline and expectation setting for different stakeholder groups.
I have now finished my report on how we are working to enhance the software of our School. I will now pass the mic to Sylvia, who will share with you how the Foundation is working to improve the hardware of the School.
Campus and Infrastructure
Good afternoon, I am Sylvia Lam, a newly appointed Councillor. Today, I would like to give you an update on the School’s campus and infrastructure, with a focus on the Convent Building.
By way of reminder, the Convent Building is a Declared Monument, it is a two-storey building with a gorgeous pitched roof and 600 square metres of space. When the Sisters passed on this building to the Foundation in 2019, we set out on a journey to find the optimum use of this lovely building for the benefit of the MCS community, and set up a Convent Committee for this purpose. In April 2020, the Convent Committee commissioned an architectural firm, Architecture Commons Ltd (ACL), to conduct a feasibility study on the adaptive reuse of the Convent Building. ACL’s team comprises structural engineers, building services engineers and building heritage consultants.
As background information, the Convent Building was built in the 1930s and used as a workshop for sewing and embroidery of vestments. The sewing activities helped women in the local community earn some money and also provided a source of income for the Maryknoll Sisters Mission.
In the 1970s, the Convent Building was renovated and used as the Sisters’ dormitory until the summer of 2019.
When the Foundation took over the Convent Building in 2019, it appointed ACL to conduct a feasibility study for the adaptive reuse of the building. ACL conducted various Design Thinking Workshops with input from teachers, students and the alumnae community on how they would like to use the space.
Additionally, ACL retrieved related drawings, documents and photos, and contacted various government departments in order to gain a better understanding of the architectural history of the Convent Building.
Most important of all, ACL needed to carry out a structural investigation in order to ascertain the structural safety of the Convent Building. This process involved coring the concrete to examine its strength, ripping out the cement cover to examine condition of the steel reinforcement, and digging external trial pits to examine the building’s foundation and soil condition.
Also, if we want to change the use of the Convent Building (this concept is called Change of Use), from using it as a dormitory to a building for educational purposes, the Convent Building must be upgraded in order to meet the current building standards, according to the building regulations in Hong Kong. As you can imagine, this is very challenging, especially since the Convent Building is a Declared Monument. Investigation by ACL shows that the building’s structural strength only meets 50% of the prevailing requirement.
Besides the structural aspects, before we can use the building for educational purposes, we also need to upgrade the other provisions, such as ensuring universal access by installing a lift for the disabled, meeting certain fire safety requirements, ensuring adequate air ventilation, and enhancing other hygiene and sanitary provisions.
Despite all challenges, we will continue to work closely with ACL to unleash the opportunities of this iconic building. For instance, we try to design the interior so that the space can be used for teaching during school hours, for extra-curricular activities after school hours, and for community use during weekends. We will continue to use our creativity to adapt and to revitalize this Convent Building – a magnificent structure that sits at the junction of Boundary Street and Ho Tung Road – to provide a multi-purposes, flexible use of space.
I will now pass the mic back to Cordelia, our Chairperson.
Thank you Maggie, Christina, Doris, Irene, Julia and Sylvia for your sharing.
These work priorities will continue to take us forward into 2022, guided by the Objects, the Foci and the Pillars, as we navigate the changing external environment and educational landscape. We expect these work priorities will increasingly intersect and merge with the preparation for the School Centenary, which will be in 2025. In the August 14 gathering, we have started some brainstorming work which will form the basis for further discussion and collaboration amongst the Maryknoll community. Any ideas that you may have are of course most welcome.
In closing, I wanted to share one story that I’ve learned that I’ve found inspirational. These flowers are beautiful, aren’t they? Melaine told me that they are the favorite flowers of Mother Mary Joseph, the foundress of Maryknoll Sisters. I asked is there any particular reason why the daffodils are MMJ’s favorite flowers, apart from their beauty, and here is the reason. I feel very inspired.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Maryknoll Sisters stepping foot on Hong Kong and Mainland China soil. In honour of these amazing Sisters, we the Foundation will always work with the School to stay true to the Maryknoll spirit, such as our respect for the uniqueness of each girl who passes through the Maryknoll gates…
…and to provide them with the best possible foundation and nurturing for growth, so that they can all blossom into a uniquely beautiful flower, and collectively, beautiful bunches of flowers of Maryknoll.