The Honorary Graduates

159th Congregation (2000)

The Most Rev Peter KWONG Kong Kit
Doctor of Divinity honoris causa


Citation

The Public Orator, Professor M.M.M. Chan, MA, MPhil, wrote and delivered the following citation:

"In faith and hope the world will disagree

But all mankind's concern is charity."

So Alexander Pope has written. Our next honorand is the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Hong Kong Island and Archbishop and Primate of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, Peter K.K. Kwong. And whatever our religious persuasion we cannot fail to be impressed by the Archbishop's true concern for charity and the welfare of mankind in general and of Hong Kong society in particular. In addition to charity he has an abundance of faith. He is convinced that each event, each decision, in his life has been, and is, determined by God. He comes from a religious family and was baptised an Anglican along with his parents at an early age. He received a Christian education, attending Sheng Kung Hui primary and secondary schools. He has always had a strong sense of vocation, a desire to help mankind. And he felt the most direct, the most comprehensive, way of achieving his aim was to join the church as a clergyman.

"God works in mysterious ways". It is usually the case that an aspiring churchman has to go and seek out the ways and means of joining the Church; in the case of Peter Kwong, the Church in the form of the late Bishop Hall sought him out even while he was in secondary school. God had mapped out the young Peter Kwong's path and this path he has trodden with energy, dedication and love, tirelessly, for many decades. Archbishop Kwong attended first Chung Chi College and then went on to obtain a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Kenyon College in 1965 and a Master of Divinity degree from Bexley Hall, Colgate, Rochester in 1971. He was ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church in 1966, and worked as Vicar of St James's Church and Curate of St Paul's Church. He was teaching in Chung Chi College and about to go overseas on sabbatical leave when he was asked to return to work for the diocese. Promotion within the Church is based on election, and his merit raised Archbishop Kwong to his present eminence. In 1981 he was consecrated as a Bishop and became installed as the Bishop of Hong Kong and Macau. A reorganization in 1988 resulted in Hong Kong becoming an independent province of the Anglican Church, consisting of the dioceses of Hong Kong island, Kowloon East and Kowloon West. Bishop Kwong became Archbishop and Primate of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui.

His high office brings with it arduous duties and obligations. Indeed the Archbishop's work is never done. "In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me," God has said. (Matthew, 25.40) It is Peter Kwong's dearest wish to be able to reach out and give help to the least of his brethren, although sometimes the complexity of present-day society frustrates him by preventing him from using the direct, the personal approach. It was the Archbishop's original ambition to help mankind, possibly as a social worker, as a counsellor, as a doctor... Now he gives more comprehensive help. He is involved with numerous educational, medical and health care and social welfare associations, often in an ex officio capacity. Let us just focus on some of the activities which engross his time and attention. Take education. Sheng Kung Hui has been running schools for over a century, and Peter Kwong is ex-officio Chairman of 33 secondary schools' councils, over 50 primary schools' councils and 45 kindergarten councils. He is President/Chairman/Patron of some 90 social services centres. Though he has perforce to delegate to some extent, the workload and responsibilities are onerous indeed. Some of the social service centres have become indispensable to the social fabric of Hong Kong. Take St James's Settlement, a social service centre, of which Archbishop Kwong is the president. The centre is truly a model of its kind, a showpiece: developed from a temple in Wanchai renovated as a shelter for refugees from the Mainland, it is now a nursery, a centre for youth work, a library, a place for study and for the handicapped. It has a sheltered workshop for those recovering from mental illness, a recreational centre for the aged. It provides hot meals and home help for the old and disabled, as well as free dental care. The range of services on offer is fairly comprehensive, and it attracts many volunteers. It is a Centre of which the Archbishop is justifiably proud.

Archbishop Kwong rendered sterling service to Hong Kong in the deliberations leading to the reunification of Hong Kong with the Chinese mainland. He was a member of the Consultative Committee for the Basic Law of Hong Kong and a member of its Executive Committee; during this crucial period he was also a Member of the Basic Law Drafting Committee. In addition he was a member of the Preparatory Committee for the SAR and of the Selection Committee. Between 1992 and 1997 he served as an Adviser on Hong Kong Affairs. Since 1998 he has been a Member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. The Archbishop is firmly convinced that, as a man of the cloth, he should not be directly involved in politics as an end in itself. But it is very much his duty to be involved in the affairs of his community and his country. He believes with Martin Luther King Jr that the church "is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state". The input of religious persons can be invaluable and he is more than willing to lend his wisdom and expertise to government committees. Looking back now, he is aware that in his work on the Drafting Committee of the Basic Law his contributions to those clauses and issues relating to religion are of extreme importance. He took pains to consult practitioners of other religions and the results are generally satisfactory to all. This is a source of immense gratification to him.

Archbishop Kwong has always been keenly interested in the education of the young, not just in an academic sense but in the sense of providing them with a holistic education that will nurture their physical, psychological, mental, emotional and other needs. He wrestles manfully with the challenges posed by our changed society as he provides guidance to the many Sheng Kung Hui schools. Since 1981 he has been Patron of the Hong Kong Teachers' Association, and between 1982 and 1990 he served as a trustee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong's Chung Chi College. We also value the Archbishop's links with our University. Since 1981 he has been Chairman of our St John's College, working zealously to improve its facilities, and also a Member of the University Court.

In spite of his exalted position in the Anglican Church and the respect with which he is held by the community, Archbishop Kwong keeps a low profile and seeks no publicity. Thus the wide press coverage of his Christmas message last year took him by surprise. And yet it should not have, for what he said echoed the sentiments which were in the hearts of many Hong Kong people. He spoke on one of his favourite themes: the dignity of the individual. He spoke against "the inhumanity of man to man", the imposition of long hours of overtime by employers at the most minimal wages, thus depriving the poor and underprivileged of the right to dignity and "humanity", forcing them to become "economic slaves". He firmly believes "that it is important for human beings to retain their humanity. The world in general and Hong Kong in particular are poorer today because human dignity has been lost as a consequence of crass materialism and the pursuit of worldly success. It has been said, "Social work is a band-aid on the festering wounds of society". Archbishop Kwong would certainly endorse this view. He feels that the study of sociology should be more widely encouraged because we might then have a clearer understanding of the complex workings of society and this would ultimately provide more long-term solutions to social problems. It is Archbishop Kwong's greatest hope that through his Church and its activities he can truly spread the message of warmth and caring and the true meaning of existence, that he can fulfil his mission of waking up his fellow Christians to the need for "acts of kindness and of love" and for spiritual values.

For his qualities and his achievements Archbishop Peter Kwong has already received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Kenyon College and one from Bexley Hall. I now call upon you, Mr Pro-Chancellor, to confer the degree of Doctor of Divinity honoris causa on Archbishop Peter K.K. Kwong.


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