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Rev Father Thomas Francis RYAN

Doctor of Letters
honoris causa

When Father Ryan’s name was seen in the list of honorary graduands, a Doctorate in Music at once sprang to mind. So much and for so long has he been concerned with literature and art, and in particular with music, in Hong Kong that in the thoughts of many people here his avocation takes second place after his devotion to the Muses. However, a glance at some biographical notes shows that these subjects have formed but a small part of his manifold interests and activities. We learn that he graduated from the National University of Ireland in 1916; that he was ordained in 1922; that he has been a school teacher; that in 1938 he took over the care of refugees from Japanese-occupied Canton; that during the Battle of Hong Kong he assisted the administrative staff of Queen Mary Hospital and later as director of rice distribution; that after the fall of Hong Kong he resumed the care of refugees, in Kweilin and Chungking; that on our liberation he played a notable part in the Colony’s rehabilitation, being put in charge of reafforestation and the reorganisation of agriculture until 1947. In August of that year he was appointed Superior of the Jesuit Order in Hong Kong and Canton, and planned the new Wah Yan College buildings on both sides of the harbour; and until his health forbade it, he ministered to the poor through membership of virtually every Government committee set up to care for them. He has found time, too, to edit a magazine, to contribute to other periodicals, and to write and publish a number of books. This is a summary of his life in Hong Kong since he arrived here in 1933, as full a life as may be conceived, and half a lifetime whose dedication to these activities we submit merits homage from a secular institution by way of a suitable degree. A degree in music not being amongst those conferred by this University, his equal eminence in the domain of letters has determined the Council to submit to you, Mr Chancellor, the name of the Reverend Thomas Francis Ryan of the Society of Jesus as a most worthy recipient of the degree of Doctor of Letters.

Citation written and delivered by Dr Leo D'Almada e Castro, CBE, QC, BA, LLD, JP the Public Orator of the University.

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