Father Harold Naylor, Jesuit teacher and co-founder of Hong Kong’s Conservancy Association, dies aged 87
After moving to Hong Kong in 1960, the Irish-born Naylor taught many pupils now well known in local politics
The Irish Jesuit who co-founded Hong Kong’s first conservation group 50 years ago, Father Harold Naylor, died on Thursday at the age of 87.
Father Stephen Chow Sau-yan, head of the Chinese Province of the Society of Jesus in Hong Kong, informed the alumni of Jesuit school Wah Yan College, Kowloon of Naylor’s death in a note.
Naylor came to Hong Kong in 1960 and taught at the college from 1967. In 1968, he joined Lindsay Ride, former vice chancellor the University of Hong Kong, and vice-president of Chung Chi College Dr Robert Rayne to found the Conservancy Association, the city’s first green group.
After learning that he taught biology, other founding members of the association asked Naylor to help start conservancy clubs in secondary schools.
Naylor wrote in his autobiography, Father Naylor: Forty Years in Wan Yan College, Kowloon, which was published online, that he was invited by the South China Morning Post to write a column on environmental matters.
“I wrote under the name of Kong Hong for over two years, since environmental news was such hot news in the 1970s,” he wrote.
A supporter of democratisation in Hong Kong, Naylor spoke at a forum in 1987 to advocate direct elections to the Legislative Council the following year.
Father Chow praised Naylor as an inspiring educator who would be missed by generations of pupils.
“His creative pedagogy was way ahead of his time. Father Naylor was very committed to a simple lifestyle, caring for the poor, protecting the environment, and fostering Christian ecumenical dialogue,” he said.
Civic Party chairman Alan Leong Kah-kit, who studied at Wah Yan College, Kowloon from 1971 to 1978, said Father Naylor was an unconventional teacher who conducted a lot of field trips even in the 1970s.
“He was well liked by his students and I am sure he will be remembered as an enlightening mentor to many,” Leong said.
The long list of Naylor’s pupils at the college includes Leong, lawmaker James To Kun-sun, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu and Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung.
To, who studied at Wah Yan College, Kowloon from 1975 to 1982, said Naylor was a caring and humorous teacher.
“Since I became a lawmaker in 1991, he took a batch of Wah Yan College students to visit the Legislative Council building every year,” To said. “Every time he asked me to be the tour guide for his students.”
“I feel sorry to hear of him leaving us,” Lee said. “He was my teacher of biology and English. I will surely miss him.”
The Society of Jesus in Hong Kong operates Wah Yan College, Kowloon and its Hong Kong Island counterpart, as well as Ricci Hall at the University of Hong Kong.