18th Annual General Meeting – Chairperson’s Report (Integrated)

Chairperson’s Message by Ms Cordelia Chung

Thank you for joining Maryknoll Convent School Foundation 2022 AGM. In particular, thank you to Sr Marilu and Sr Armaline, our principals and vice principals from both sections, our Foundation members, PTA chairs, and non-members including those invited by the Conservation docent team, and a father who has requested to attend because he’s very proud of his very accomplished daughters and thankful of the Maryknoll education we gave them.  Thank you all for making it today.

What comes to mind when you look at this photo? The cursive handwriting that we were all taught when we were young, one candle lights up another – embodying how the Maryknoll Sisters have dedicated their lives to light up the lives of others. 

I put up this chart because not too many people understand we have a unique structure at Maryknoll Convent School. Most schools have former student associations, and we do too. They play an important function: social activities, networking, support of the school. Our Former Students Association is doing a fine job. Not many schools, however, have former students who studied in the schoolbeing eligible to join and be part of the sponsoring body of the school, which by law has the responsibility for the long-term strategic objectives of the school and for overseeing the school’s performance and operation, through the integrated management councils and the appointment of the supervisors. In fact, we might be the only one in Hong Kong.  Think La Salle, the sponsoring body is the La Salle Brothers. St Mary’s? Theirs is the Canossian Sisters. 

In 2004, Maryknoll Sisters, who founded the school, formed the Foundation and entrusted the responsibility of school sponsoring to former students and teachers.  They trusted their students. They trust we have learned what they taught: cursive handwriting, but also Christian values, Maryknoll Spirit, vision and mission, and that we will pass these on to future generations of Maryknoll students, as one candle lights another.  This structure is very uniqueAnd we, as former students, are privileged to have this opportunity to serve.

I am happy to report that the Foundation is supported by a dedicated Council, who have generously given their time and expertise to support the work of the Foundation. Thank you so much and please join me with a big round of applause to all of our Councillors.

Thank you to our Advisors, whose wisdom, counsel and advice we rely on and are truly indebted to.

Here I wanted to particularly thank our outgoing vice chairperson, Miranda Poon, who has served the Council’s maximum term of 9 years. Miranda’s spirit of service reflects what a consummate Maryknoller she is. In her 9 years, her service to the Council has always been fully dedicated, completely reliable and her work is always top notch. Miranda, you have given so much to Maryknoll, let us give a part of Mayknoll to you too – a Maryknoll brick souvenir plaque. 

The Founding Sisters of the Foundation have laid down the Objects of the Foundation: 

  1. To be the school sponsoring body of the Catholic girls schools known as “Maryknoll Convent School (Primary Section)” “瑪利諾修院學校(小學部)”, “Maryknoll Convent School (Secondary Section)” “瑪利諾修院學校(中學 部)” and other Catholic girls schools in Hong Kong in accordance with the Education Ordinance or otherwise participate in the operation and administration of such schools;
  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.

Three simple paragraphs, but very foundational, very core. They will need interpretation as education evolves with the times. For example, what is quality education in the 21st Century? But the heart, the faith, and the core values, should always remain the same.

In 2022, in line with the Objects of the Foundation, we have continued to engage members and the Maryknoll community so that they know the role of the Foundation and what we do, and to encourage more to participate and contribute to our work.  

At last year’s AGM we reported about the Convent attic conservation project.  It has proven to be a great rallying project. Our different committees have worked together seamlessly, and have done a wonderful job in celebrating the history and heritage of the Maryknoll Sisters.  The project culminated in the two and a half month joint exhibition with the Antiquities and Monuments Office at Kowloon Park for which we have received lots of positive feedback. You will hear this wonderful report, including data and observations, from the different teams – Doris Kwan, Christina Chan and Barbara Hung.

And we will not stop there. The Convent Building is a gift from the Sisters – we must put it to good and meaningful use. Even if it takes a lot of financial and human resources, with your support and contributions, we will find a way to make it happen. On this, you will hear more from Sylvia Lam later.

Another key report is on the work on Preserving and Enhancing the Essence of Maryknoll Education for the Future. Education requirements and landscape change, but the core remains.  But how do we preserve the core? The work of this group is to understand and go back to the source so as to inform us for the future. A multi-year project, but which will help us steer the School in many years to come. You will hear the report from Julia Leung. 

So, with that, let me turn it over to Doris Kwan.

The LWHT project is a heritage searching journey for the Maryknoll Community. My team is both humbled and honored to lead this Foundation project. Apart from our sponsors, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my partners, Irene Li and Iris Kwan, who have helped since conservation planning, all the way to the Exhibition. Special thanks also go to Victoria Tang, Prof Maggy Lee and Jocelyn Yu who joined us at the perfect moment to make the exhibition possible. Last but not least, a big “thank you” to those who have      offered help over this past 14 months for the project!  You know who you are and I could see many of you are with us today!

The LWHT project is not only a CONSERVATION AND PROTECTION OF HERITAGE PROJECT dedicated to the Maryknoll Sisters, but it is also an EDUCATION PROJECT – to enhance our students learning experience, to connect the Maryknoll Community and raise public awareness in preserving history and heritage of HK.  To quote Mr Aloysius Lee, former adviser to the Foundation “Visitors unfamiliar with the School might now want to explore the education behind those historic walls. Friends of Hong Kong would be grateful to the organizers that an unsung bit of Hong Kong heritage has at last seen the light of day”. 

Now, let’s look at the tangible numbers on the chart:

  • 15,669 attendance in 71 open days at the AMO Heritage Discovery Center from 24 June 2022 to 14 September 2022
  • 1403 views up to 14 September 2022 of the Virtual Tour on the Foundation’s website
  • Media Coverage via newspapers, online media, KOL reports, magazines, RTHK Radio,  Cable TV,  AM730, feature stories and interviews, etc.
  • 2 Docent Training sessions, over 100 Docent Tours, 2 online talks, 1 physical talk, 2 workshops for the visually impaired, 4 videos, 1 online tour and many physical convent tours

Love Stories – There were many heartwarming stories (oral history) that came to light during the course of this project, the intangible touch that had shaped the lives of many. The Sisters believe in the good of everyone and they always support those in need to live out the best they can, to the best of their abilities. 

We met a few people who had been showered by God’s blessings. Ms Chan from the Boys and Girls Club Association who learned under the Maryknoll Sisters and joined extra-curricular activities with MCS students and the workers of the Sewing Workshop. Then of course, the stories of Ms Teresa Wong and Ms Chan Yuk Chun which were shown in the exhibition. 

Past and future – As Foundation members, we are actually more connected by technology today. Foundation information is at our fingertips. What more can you offer? 

We hope that the conservation and exhibition have brought the Maryknoll Community closer together to understand the Mission and Vision of the Maryknoll Sisters and now the work of the Foundation as the School Sponsoring Body. We need your support on different projects as the School approaches its Centenary.

Membership Committee

First of all, I (Barbara Hung) would like to thank the membership committee consisting of Maggie Chau, Iris Kwan, Antoinette Lee, Irene Li, Miranda Poon, Elliot Chung, Seneca Lai, Winnie Mui and Rachel Yuen for their support, not to mention other committee members who helped on project basis such as Angel Kwan, Belinda Leung and Michelle Ko.

The Membership Committee plays an important role in the recruitment and engagement of Members. Recruitment of new members is important to our succession and to help bring in funds for the running of the Foundation. Even as the school sponsoring body, the Foundation has no regular financial resource. We have to rely on membership fees to support our running costs including expenses in maintaining the Boundary Street Convent – which is under the management of the Foundation.  We have a target of 60 new members per year. 

This chart is an overview of our membership recruitment over the years. Recruitment of new members had been easier before when we had face to face activities at school – such as Pun Choi / Autumn fest / school open days. Our strongest years were 2016 -2018, when we had over 60 new members per year.  Given the pandemic, recruitment had been a challenge.  With the help of the conservation project and our docent project, we have so far approved the applications of 49 new members for the year 2022 and hope more will join after AGM.   As of today, the Foundation has a total of 957 members.

This is a chart showing the distribution of members by the Year of Graduation – in the past when we had school certificate exams, the graduation year of Form 5 was used and for later years, when we have DSE, the year of Form 6 was counted as the year of graduation. 

We always say – BE there when School  Needs YOU! As seen from the Chart, we have members graduating from the 50‘s to the year 2022.  A spread of 69 years.   We have the highest number of members in the years 1993- 2002.  These alumnae are in their late 30s – 40s who are up and rising in their careers and at the same time with young kids.  Although they may not have a lot of time since most are tied up by career and family obligations, they are highly resourceful in providing and offering their professional expertise such as in finance, law, management, campus development, HR, marketing,  production – on a NEED basis.  Many in this group have girls at MCS.  They also provide a precious resource to link the Foundation to the Primary and Secondary Sections and to help promote the Maryknoll spirit to other parents. 

The second largest batch of members are graduates from the period between 1983 – 1992.  These are people in their late 40’s and 50’s. They are probably at the height of their career (both at work and at home) with rich professional and personal experience in different domains with valuable networks. This is a resourceful group who could contribute both financially and with their expertise for the support of school projects. The group from 73- 82  is a group most flexible in time with rich experience in life. They are the ones who have retired or are planning to retire or have children grown up. We always look to this group for help when anything needs to be done on a working day. 

We have less members in the younger cohorts who are in their late twenties and early 30s.  Members in this generation are important to keep the Foundation abreast with recent career and educational development and link us to younger alumnae.  We are aiming to set up a young alumna recruiting group with the hope of reaching out to the younger generations.  Please encourage the young alumnae whom you have met at work or your mentees or your adult daughters who are also alumnae to join the Foundation.

For membership engagement, we have two main initiatives. Firstly, the production of the Digitalised Membership Handbook which contains all the important information of the Foundation. The book was sent to all members via email broadcast. Please spare some time to read it. It is the hard work of our Handbook team consisting of Amy Ho, Elizabeth Tse, Maggie Chau and Miranda Poon. A big thank you to them.  

Secondly, the organizing of Docent Tours for the MCS community for AMO exhibition at the Kowloon Park. With social distancing and no physical activity at School, we had to think of ways to recruit and to engage our members.  Working with the LWHT team and the Communications Committee, we launched a Docent Tour initiative for the AMO exhibition at Kowloon park. 

We started this Docent Tour project by inviting our members and other people who had helped at the conservation project to attend a Docent training.   We were very lucky to have our member,  Anita Tse of grad year 75, who was an experienced docent for the Heritage museum, to organise a training session on 25 June 2022.  The response was overwhelming and we had over 80 alums turning up and many non-members attending then joined the Foundation.   

We had 53 alumnae spreading from the graduation year of 1970 to fresh graduates – i.e. a spread of 52 years – who volunteered as Docents and floor managers. From 16 July 2022 to 11 September 2022,  we organized 2 sessions a day on all Saturdays and Sundays within the period.  Over the 18 days, our docent team conducted 36 sessions with over 100 tours for over 350 visitors of which 131 were alumnae.   Many of our Docents conducted ad hoc tours for Maryknollers and members of the public who were interested to learn more about the exhibition. 

While the Exhibition had closed on 14 September 2022 – we did not stop. As a finale to the Docent project, we had the docents and floor managers and those who attended our Docent Tour at the Exhibition to join a Mini Convent and Campus Tour before the AGM.  We had over 150 registered participants and 11 docent tours were conducted.   

The Docent Tour project was a very successful event. It was not just a recruitment and engagement event but had helped reconnect many generations of alumnae who had shown great passion and love for the School.  A photo speaks a thousand works.  My verbal account will not do justice to the success of the Docent Project. Pleasewatch the Video.

Here is a glimpse of the Digitalised Membership Handbook mentioned earlier in my speech.

Communications Committee

Good afternoon, I am Christina Chan, Convenor of the Communications Committee. Over the past year, we continued with our best efforts to support the first 2 work priorities of the Foundation as our Chairperson earlier highlighted – Engagement with our Members and the broader Maryknoll Community. 

The LWHT exhibition presented a wonderful opportunity for engagement and bonding! More so than ever, we had been collaborating intimately with Doris, Barbara and team to develop a publicity campaign to spread the words, to drive visitation and more importantly to rekindle  memories of our Sisters’ legacy of love in their service to the community over the decades.

The planning started early in the year. We have to align, in many respects, amongst ourselves, and also with our partner, the AMO. Sometimes, they are a little bit more rigid in the way they do things and we may need to spend more time to agree. For example the timeline for dissemination of public information, press releases, application of logos, pantone colour, font size etc for all the collaterals that we produce. But we Marknollers didn’t mind being humbled nor were we deterred by the tedious processes. We all have the ‘can do spirit’ in our DNA and we were always able to find a way to work around and deliver quality work in a timely manner. 

Some of the remarkable results include over 5000 viewerships for the different videos that we uploaded onto the Foundation Youtube Channel. As a teaser program, our secondary students produced a short clip on the conservation part, and Doris facilitated an online Heritage Talk with more in depth education on the history of the Industrial Workshop. Other clips include the opening ceremony, and the public seminar delivered by Amy and Iris. If you have an eagle’s eye, you will wonder why only 75 views for A Place of Quiet Love on the slide here (oh, this is just the Putonghua version, we also have the Cantonese and English version with a total viewership of over 2500 ! )

We leveraged our FB and over the months we uploaded a good number of feeds, sharing of photos and generated over 40,000 reaches. Yes, every button that you pressed for ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ gave us immense encouragement. In addition, the FSA has also been most supportive and shared our FB feeds on their page, reaching more and more Maryknollers near and far.

We leveraged other channels too – Foundation website for those who don’t have FB accounts. We always remind ourselves that Communication is two-way and we cherish feedback. We respond to enquiries from our inbox and we even created QR codes and Google forms for visitors to share their afterthoughts. You may have heard from Doris just now the beautiful sharing from Mr Aloysius Lee and we thank both Helen and Mrs Teresa Chow for their generous sharing too!

Taking this opportunity, I am also pleased to report other engagement efforts other than the exhibition. The Fireside Chat #3 last Christmas featuring our 2 Supervisors and moderated by Gigi Leung received overwhelming response. Gigi shared our FB message on her personal FB and generated 50,000 Likes. 

We launched the MCS floret pendant necklace. This is Michelle Man, Maryknoller class of 91 and a professional jewellery designer. She’s interviewed by 2 lovely Primary students, one is 9 years old, one is 7 years old and together they are joining us to celebrate the school’s 97th birthday. How sweet! All pendants have been sold out, but we can always re-order and we are already planning for the 98th anniversary design. 

Our Engagement Work continues…. We have started to plan for Fireside Chat #4 featuring our 2 Principals Ms Melaine Lee and Ms Doris Yuen. They will be moderated by yet another star, outstanding windsurfer Hayley Chan, class of 2008 and an Olympic athlete! So please stay tuned!

I cannot finish my report without THANKING the 2 MOST IMPORTANT members of the committee who did the bulk of the very professional work. Winnie Mui, she designed ALL our graphics, always with elegance and good taste and she manages our website and broadcasts emails as well. A big thank you dear Winnie. And Catherine Wong, who prepares  all copywriting and manages our FB messages. Both Winnie and Catherine are very very busy with daytime work and have to take care of their young children. They always stay late to work on school matters and truly display the spirit – Be There When the School Needs Them!

We are very much obliged. Thank you.

Convent Committee

(Sylvia Lam) The Convent Building, at the junction of Boundary Street and Ho Tung Road, was built in 1937 as an ‘Industrial School’, mainly used for educational and training purposes. The building became the dwelling quarters and offices for the Maryknoll Sisters in the 1970s. It is a 2-storey brick veneered pitched roof structure with an internal floor area of about 663 m2. The Convent Building is now a Declared Monument.

In 2019, the Foundation received from the Maryknoll Sisters the Convent. With this gift from the Sisters, a feasibility study for an adaptive reuse project has been commissioned to explore its optimum use, the corresponding cost and time required as reported in 2021 AGM.

The feasibility study is now concluded. There are 4 main areas of works required; namely (i) building rehabilitation, (ii) statutory compliance, (iii) user requirements and (iv) heritage conservation. Our aim is to ultimately provide a teaching & learning hub as primary purpose, with other meaningful purposes for our Maryknoll family and community wherever practicable, in honor of the values and vision of the Maryknoll Sisters. The corresponding cost is $45 million that is extremely challenging for us to gather donations in view of the current epidemic. 

Thus, we propose the ‘Stepping Stone’ scheme with a much smaller budget as the first step for achieving the eventual completion of the entire adaptive reuse project. We focus on the (i) building rehabilitation aspects; to repair and to restore for rehabilitating the Convent Building.  

The ‘Stepping Stone’ Project is an actionable incremental step to generate momentum for the ‘Ultimate Goal’ Project in view of the cost, complexity and time required…Also, it is eminent to repair, restore and rehabilitate the Building as there are nascent signs of deterioration of the building fabric. The major component of ‘Stepping Stone’ Project is the taking down of free-standing partitions at 1/F which should be erected sometimes in 1970s as an afterthought, together with the repair of water leakage, concrete spalling, overhaul of air conditioning system and basic decoration works etc. 

With its completion, various merits can be achieved. For the First Floor, it is envisaged that a large hall space can be reinstated into its original state of the Building when it was completed in 1937. The splendidness of the concrete roof portal can fully be seen. The ‘healthiness’ of the Building can be enhanced with the alleviation of the substantial dead load of the free-standing walls. Moreover, there should be a better utilization of the Convent Building especially to the new 1/F multi-purpose area. 

The Convent Building Project is in substance an heritage conservation project in praise of the Maryknoll Sisters Spirit. We hope that everyone will support it. Thank you.

Taskforce on Preserving and Enhancing the Essence of Maryknoll Education

(Julia Leung) To achieve this, the Foundation would need to document in a systematic manner the core components of the “Maryknoll Spirit”, and to ensure that these core components are cultivated, infused and manifested in all aspects of education for the Primary and Secondary sections. It is important so that the true Maryknoll Spirit can be sustained and renewed for generations to come. So first of all, we need to know what is the “Maryknoll Spirit” –  the Maryknoll Spirit is best personified in Mother Mary Joseph who founded the Maryknoll Sisters in 1912.

What is MMJ Spirituality? The MMJ Spiritually is captured in the book “On the Threshold of the Future” written by Sr. Claudette LaVerdiere’s, and can be summarized in the following aspects: (1) Presence of God, (2) Contemplation and Action, (3) Unity of Spirit and Diversity of Gift, (4) Individuality and Common Good, (5) The Maryknoll Spirit of Obedience, (6) Nobility of Soul and (7) Behold the Handmaid of the Lord. 

As custodian of the Maryknoll legacy, the Foundation is to develop a framework to (a) encapsulate what the Maryknoll Spirit is, (b) share and renew the understanding of it with stakeholders on a regular basis, and (c)provide strategic directions to the IMC in the formulation of education policies of the school grounded by the Maryknoll Spirit, in order that the Maryknoll Spirit can be sustained and renewed for generations and that the essence of MCS education can be preserved and enriched in the evolving context. 

Chairperson’s Message – continued

Thank you Julia and team. Working diligently, we also have ourTrademark Committee led by Irene Li and her team. We have distributed Irene’s very succinct report and please take a look, including the Maryknoll marks that are being protected. 

As we look ahead to 2023, you have heard earlier some of the key work that we will embark on so I will not repeat here. Of course, we all look forward to 2025, our Centenary, and support the preparations for it. As we look beyond, we will be starting the next Centenary soon. I sometimes wonder why the Sisters called the school sponsoring body Maryknoll Convent School Foundation, and not just MCS School Sponsoring Body. It is not like the Foundation is endowed with money. Quite the opposite.  I do not know, but perhaps they thought they wanted to remind us to ensure the foundational faith, values, vision and mission, and virtues of Maryknoll will always be the bedrock of a Maryknoll education. 

For this unique school sponsoring body structure to work and for us to discharge our stewardship, it is important that the Foundation membership continues to be broad-based and vibrant. The vitality of the Foundation rests on your participation, and the full participation of the Maryknoll community. 

We beckon all our members to participate and contribute to the work of the Foundation. We encourage all of you who are not members yet to join. Afterall, coming back to the School, is like coming back to the heart. We look forward to your support. Thank you.