Interview with Br. Joseph Cheung
Hong Kong, 5 June 2018 -- One life time spent in the education mission
What fills your heart with joy as Salesian Brother?
My heart is filled with joy as I have been professed as a Salesian Brother for 54 years. I can say proudly that I have followed Don Bosco for all these years. I am happy to be a Salesian Brother, because as a Brother I can offer myself entirely to God, but at the same time I can follow a career that I like, i.e. the education of youth. Looking back, I can say that I have led a fruitful and meaningful life.
You spent many years in the school apostolate. What experiences do you treasure most in your heart?
I was a school principal for 25 years, acting according to my conscience, trying to do well in everything, and offering everything to God. "I do my best and God will do the rest." I treated well everyone under my care, including teachers, clerical and menial staff, and most of all the students. For the benefit of the schools and students, I contacted benefactors, not only asking for their help, but also keeping them in contact, sending them warm regards during the year, and informing them about the school. Besides benefactors, I also kept close contact with government officials, especially those in the Education Department. I treated them as a member of our Educative Community. So the experience I treasure most is the good relationships established throughout the years, inside and outside of the school, sometimes forging life - long friendships along the way.
Now you dedicate your time in the HK Salesian School Education Office. What is this mission about?
The Salesian Province of China runs 12 schools in Hong Kong, 6 secondary schools and 6 primary schools. The Education Office, which we call Central Secretariat, acts as a liaison office between the Provincial and the schools, between the province and the government, on all matters concerning education. The Central Secretariat supports the schools, especially when they need help; assists with the procedures with regard to the registration of the schools and their managers；sets up common guidelines for the schools, especially those practices of Salesian tradition; provides materials for the schools about Salesian Education and the Preventive System; organizes courses and seminars for school principals, school middle management, and teachers; and so on.
SDB and Lay Mission Partners working together in Hong Kong: What are the achievements and challenges?
SDB and Lay Mission Partners working side by side in Hong Kong. Our province is proud to have organized many formation activities for the Lay Mission Partners working in schools. Our focus is primarily on the Principals. These formation activities are so successful that our principals are filled with lively Salesian spirit now, so much so that they can be viewed as Lay Salesians, leading the schools with true Salesian Spirit. The challenge ahead is to keep up the good work, plan formation activities not only for the principals, but also for the middle management personnel of our schools.
How can we foster the visibility of Salesian Brother within the Salesian Family and Catholic community?
I have a rather simple suggestion to help answer this question. In our province, we have a young and energetic team for the promotion of vocations. If we can ask this vocation team to give substantial attention to Salesian Brother vocation each time when they mention Salesian Priestly vocation, then perhaps we may expect some good results in fostering visibility of Salesian Brother.
After participating in many EAO Salesian Brother Congresses, what do you suggest for the fruitful program and follow up of this 7th EAO Congress in Vietnam?
I have participated in three EAO Salesian Brother Congress in the past. The most difficult problem in these congresses is the language. Not all Brothers can speak well English, some even have difficulty in understanding English. The general deficiency in the English Language prevents going deeper into the issues. So each congress can only satisfy itself with some simple consensus and some cultural exchanges, showing our proper family spirit. Looking ahead, the best we can do is to understand and agree on a few basic issues, and along the way, forge warm spirit of brotherhood. The individuals leading the meetings and discussions will be very important, it is vital that they can reach out to the participants.
Any other sharing?
You may be glad to know that a few years ago, Bro. Thomas Cheung (deceased) and myself have managed to translate the (Golden) book " The Salesian Brother" into Chinese. This is quite a step forward, isn't it?