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Catholic Church

Father Naylor’s letters to a young reporter highlight the importance of encouraging the next generation

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 October, 2018, 2:06pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 October, 2018, 2:06pm

I refer to Gary Cheung’s article “More than 1,000 friends and pupils bid final farewell to Hong Kong’s Father Naylor” (October 11).

While I never had the opportunity to meet Father Naylor in person, I was greatly inspired by four letters I received from him during the 1980s when I was a young reporter at the Post. I am not a Wah Yan College graduate or a Catholic, but I have kept these letters as a reminder of how words of praise can inspire young people to strive for high standards. In my eight years at the Post, Father Naylor sent in the most letters of compliment. To a young reporter, it meant a lot.

In those days, the present Catholic Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung was head of the Catholic social communications office. The future of Hong Kong was a subject of hot debate at the time and all eyes were on the diocese’s stance.

Cheung’s article quoted Bishop Yeung as saying at the funeral mass: “I have known Father Naylor since [1981]. At the time I kept close contacts with the media, particularly the South China Morning Post. My remarks were quoted in reports of the Post nearly every two days. Father Naylor sent me every report in the Post which cited my remarks. He made highlights with pens in different colours, including those of my remarks he deemed not that good.”

One of my major focus areas as a Post reporter in the early 1980s was religion and most of the articles referred to by Bishop Yeung were written by me.

Father Naylor’s first letter, sent to Robin Hutcheon who was then editor of the Post, said: “I was delighted with Walter Cheung’s article … very informative and well written.” I was 24 years old and this was the first time I had been praised by a reader. His second letter ended: “Do call by and see us when you are free – I am a Form Three teacher here [at Kowloon Wah Yan College].” His third letter congratulated me on another article, noting that it was “a model of news and interest that a newspaper should have. Let us have more”. His fourth letter said: “You must be very close to the most accurate source of all Catholic news”.

All this is not to praise myself as an award-winning reporter, but to salute the memory of Father Naylor for his acts of kindness and to highlight the importance of following his example in encouraging and inspiring young people for the betterment of society.

Walter Cheung, Central