Patron Saints

Shung Tak is a Hong Kong Catholic Diocesan school and patron saints have been an integral part of the school. Like most of the grammar schools in Hong Kong, students are organized into houses to run sports events. There are four: viz. Red, Blue, Green and Yellow. Unlike most of the other grammar schools, our houses have patron saints. It is our tradition to have St. James as the patron saint for the Red House, St. John for the Blue, St. Patrick Green and St. Peter Yellow.

When one of our ex-principals came into office, he abolished the streaming system and renamed the classes so as to remove the "labelling effects" on students. Classes were renamed J, L, M, P and S. So, the RS Department had to think up patron saints these alphabets represented. They are: Ss. Joan of Arc, Luke, Matthew, Priscilla and Silas. At that time, there were 9 different patron saints in the school! The only merit was that there were two female saints!

It was a golden opportunity when the school celebrated her Golden Anniversary to finalize, once and for all, our Official Patron Saints. The school was founded in Ss. Peter and Paul Church of Yuen Long fifty years ago. Therefore, it was only natural to declare these two great Apostles to be our Patron Saints. Meanwhile, the class labels would represent Christian virtues, viz. Justice, Love, Mercy, Peace, Spirituality and Talentum.

RS Department
Feast Day of Ss. Peter & Paul 2011

Biography of St. PaulBoth saints work for usSt. Peter's teachingsPaul rebuked Peter

Paul rebuked Peter at Antioch (Galatians 2:11-14)

According to Church tradition, St. Peter was the first bishop of Rome, thus the first Pope. Under the leadership of successors after his death, the Church faces many different challenges throughout the centuries. Today, the Church is still alive and kicking. Catholics reason that God protects the Church and the popes so that they do not make mistakes, i.e. Papal Infallibility. Therefore, it is all right to believe in the Catholic Church.

Many people do not like this idea and quote the story of St. Paul who rebuked, scolded Cephas (Peter) at Antioch to prove that popes make mistakes. So, why does the Catholic Church teach such a stupid belief? We need to know the background.

With the advances of science and technology, modern people have become very proud and arrogant. They don・t like bible teachings such as: that God created the universe, that man was created in :the image and likeness of God; (Genesis 1:26). They prefer a scientific explanation and the idea that men evolved from chimpanzees! They are happy to announce that God is dead. These errors of Rationalism in turn make man question his own human nature. Man becomes no more than a bunch of cells and a naked monkey. Worthless. To fight against these mistakes, the first Council of Vatican held in 1869 claimed the Infallibility of the Pope in matters of faith and morals. To be exact, acting as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, when the Pope officially announces a doctrine of faith or moral, he will not make mistakes because of the protection of the Holy Spirit. Of course he can make mistakes in daily life like anyone of us. Looking back, we should admire the courage of popes to take up such a heavy burden!

Now, let・s take a look at the story at Antioch. According to St. Paul, Peter acted like a coward in front of some Jews. He avoided mixing with Gentiles at their presence. Therefore, Paul rebuked Peter for lacking the courage to defend the rights of Gentiles. You might say that Peter was a coward. But you might also say that Peter was prudent. Perhaps he did not want to disturb the conscience of those Jews. In fact, Paul also teaches the same virtues of prudence and charity on the question of eating food offered to idols (1 Corinthians 8:8-13). No matter what, it was his personality trait and Peter was not announcing any official teaching. Therefore, it is a misunderstanding of the meaning of Papal Infallibility.

Alex Kwok
July 9, 2013

The picture of the supposed dispute between Ss. Peter and Paul drawn by Rembrandt was retrieved at Wikipedia

Some teachings from one of our Patron Saints, St. Peter

We have known a bit about what our Patron Saints have done. Let・s move on to know more about some of their thoughts. From them, we receive our faith in Jesus Christ. Moreover, the Catholic Church has made October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013 the :Year of Faith;. Therefore, it is all the more important for us to know what we believe.
Being a fisherman before he followed Jesus, St. Peter did not have many chances to receive education. He was not as learned as St. Paul. Therefore, he did not leave behind any systematic treatise on theology. His teachings, like his personality, are quite straight forward and are easier to understand. Let・s hear a few of his famous lines.

  • "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets." K "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." (Luke 5:5, 8)
  • And Jesus said, "Who was it that touched me?" When all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the multitudes surround you and press upon you!" (Luke 8:45)
  • "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren." (Luke 22:31-32)
  • And he (Simon Peter) went out and wept bitterly (Luke 22:62).
  • You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God (1 Peter 1:23).
  • And like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5).
  • The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Having born anew after Jesus・ resurrection, St. Peter returned to strengthen the faith of the other followers and, true to the name given by Jesus, became the foundation stone of the Catholic Church, the centre of communion for all Christians.

July 17, 2012.
(Student Handbook 2012-2013, pg. 3)

The Year of Faith logo was retrieved at the website of the Catholic News Agency.
The image of Peter・s denial by Carl Heinrich Bloch was retrieved at the website of Free Christ Images.

Both Ss Peter and Paul worked for us

Though it is wrong to think in a "we-they" manner, it is convenient and simple. Therefore, there are lots of simplified half-truths floating around. For example, we have been told that Ss Peter and Paul died martyrs on the same day, June 29. Are you sure? Is it true?

Actually, nobody can tell for sure that the two great Apostles died on the same day. But we have written records showing that in 258 A.D., believers moved the remains of these two great Apostles to the Via Appia ad Catacumbas on June 29. Thus far we are sure.
Therefore, the Church celebrates the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul on June 29.
Again, we have been told that

"I (Paul) had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised." (Galatians 2:7)

The :circumcised; refers to the Jews. Therefore, we have the impression that Peter worked exclusively for the Jews and Paul for the non-Jews. What a clean, simple and tidy division of labour! But K
Since you and I are not Jews. So, what has Peter to do with you and me? Why should we choose Peter to be one of our patron saints?

Leafing through the pages of the Acts of the Apostles written by St. Luke, we find Peter baptising Cornelius, a Roman centurion, i.e. a non-Jew, even before Paul started his famous missionary journeys (Acts 10:1-48). Through the concerted efforts of the Apostles with the Holy Spirit, the Church thrived. But the admission of Gentiles into the early Church, which had so far been made up mostly of circumcised Jews, created a crisis which threatened to split the Church. To deal with it, the Apostles convoked the Jerusalem Council. Here, Peter stood up to defend Paul・s preaching to the Gentiles (Acts 15:7-11). Therefore, the apparent division of labour was only a simplified expression of a much more complex process.

We are blessed to have these two holy Apostles to be the Patron Saints of our College. May we learn more from their lives and follow their footsteps to glorify God, our Creator, with our "Ora et Labora". Amen.

July 14, 2010.
(Student Handbook 2010-2011, pg. 4)

A very short biography of Saint Paul

Paul was born Saul in the city Tarsus in around 8 A.D. He was a Jew like all other early disciples of Jesus. He was trained a Pharisee and being one, he was very fervent to weed out Christians because they believed in one more God --- Jesus, a carpenter whom he had never met in person.

One day, when he was travelling on the road to Damascus to arrest the Christians there, Jesus appeared to him in a strong light (Acts 9:1-9). After this soul-shattering experience, he knew that Jesus was God and that he had been wrong. Therefore, he spent the rest of his life preaching to Jews and Gentiles that Jesus is our Saviour, our God. It was during this time that he changed his name to Paul. For the sake of Jesus and the gospel, Paul had worked very hard, preaching and writing letters to advise the churches he set up.

Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one --- I am talking like a madman --- with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.
Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.
Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea;
on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren;
in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches.
(2 Corinthians 11:23-28) Tradition claims that he was beheaded in Rome in 65 A.D., the same day Peter was crucified, upside-down. Statues of St. Paul usually depict a bald, bearded man holding a long sword with one hand and a book/letter with the other.

Peter (Yellow House)

Simon Peter, the first Pope, Prince of the Apostles, and together with St. Paul, were founders of the See of Rome. Peter was a native of Bethsaida, and worked, like his brother St. Andrew, as a fisherman on Lake Genesareth. Andrew introduced Peter to Jesus (John 1:40-42). Peter acknowledged him as '... the Messiah, the son of the living God'. Christ responded by saying: '... you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church....' He added: 'I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven ...' (Matthew 16:16-19).

According to Church tradition, Peter was crucified on the Vatican Hill upside down because he declared himself unworthy to die in the same manner as the Lord.
Feast Day: June 29

(Student Handbook 2009-2010, pp.10-11)