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July 2023
Issue No. 315

St Paul’s College celebrates its 170th anniversary: Finding one’s self by seeking God’s wisdom


St Paul’s College (SPC) celebrated its 170th anniversary with a thanksgiving service at St John’s Cathedral on 21st April, where the Very Revd Matthias Der presided and the Most Revd Andrew Chan preached. The order of service showcased the rich history of the school – with the Chairman of the College Council Dr Arnold Cheng and student representative Jeremy Woo reading the first and second lessons, the Archbishop Emeritus Peter Kwong delivering a reading about the establishment of the school, and Mr Timothy Ha, the 10th principal of St Paul’s College reciting a poem. 

The choirs sang anthems under the direction of Mr Raymond Fu, Mrs Sandy Ng, and Mr Kirk Ma, the deputy head of St Paul’s College Primary School (SPCPS), and the congregation joined in with rousing voices during the hymns. The principal of SPC Mr Dennis Yuen and the headmaster of SPCPS Mr Michael Mak led the prayers. The service was concluded with the Right Revd Matthias Der giving a blessing to the College.


The Archbishop Andrew Chan preached upon the College motto, with an emphasis on the meaning of wisdom. The Archbishop noted how our fast-paced modern society is constantly flooded with new knowledge and technology, and so it is not appropriate to define wisdom as the mere accumulation of what we know. Rather, it is the ability to keenly discern and dissect this ever-changing world, and the ability to learn from it. God’s Word has become Flesh to be an example amidst us, teaching us how to equip ourselves in order to follow his wisdom and teachings. And yet many are intentionally dismissive of God’s wisdom. The Archbishop reminded the congregation how we should always seek out the Lord’s wisdom, and set it as the foundation of our lives. We ought to live out this wisdom, and nurture our whole self with it. 


The actual 170th anniversary of SPC happened in the academic year of 2021, but celebrations were twice delayed due to COVID. We are thankful to God’s grace and guidance that the proper celebrations could now be carried out – the conclusion of which will happen in December this year. Other than this thanksgiving service, SPC has also celebrated this anniversary with a concert, rubbing of the school signage, seminars, an open day, and an exhibition of the College’s heritage at the Central Market. All these events were well-attended by alumni and the general public alike.

SPC began its history in 1849, when the Revd Vincent Stanton founded this oldest continuously-operating school in Hong Kong for the purposes of teaching locals English and training a new generation of clergy. In its earliest days, Bishop’s House (at Glenealy) was used as the campus of the College. When the Diocese of Victoria was established, the school then received its current name “St Paul’s College” in 1851, and formally became a secondary school. The newly installed Bishop George Smith served as the first principal. After WWII, Colonel Evan George Stewart (8th principal) led the teachers and students to 69 Bonham Road, where SPC still stands to this day. For a time, St John’s Hall of the University of Hong Kong was used as the campus. In 2002, SPC opted for the Direct Subsidy Scheme, thus turning another page in the school’s history. 

The modern SPC has expanded upon its roots to provide education with both breadth and depth. No longer are boys exclusively trained to become clergy, but the ethos of nurturing and educating youths by Christian principles still guides the College. This is the founding principle of the College, and is why SPC places an emphasis on religious education, that the students may come to know God. Within the campus, Christian murals and art pieces can be found easily, and religious education is a compulsory subject throughout Secondary 1 to 6. The College also has an active student fellowship, which meets every week and organises many activities, including joint-school Christmas parties, leadership camps, and retreats. The College also enjoys close ties with the Church, and frequently organises activities with the parish of St Stephen’s – Pancake Tuesday (or Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday) is particularly popular amongst the students. 

What started as but 9 students and a single teacher, St Paul’s College has grown over the years to 1100 secondary school boys and 600 primary school boys. Just as St Paul has said, ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.’ (1 Cor 3:6) We are thankful that the Lord moved the Revd Stanton to plant this seed of education some 170 years ago. The current generation of St Paul’s boys now stand on the shoulders of those who came before, and they pray now that they may continue their forebears’ work, and keep this historical tree flourishing for years to come.


<The above article was published in "Echo" Issue No. 315. Please click here>


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