Birth in Begonia, Piacenza (皮亞琴察),
Italy: [12 July 1892]
Father Andrew Granelli, formerly parish priest of St. Joseph’s and St. Teresa’s Churches, died at St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged, Kowloon, on Sunday. He was 84.
Father Granelli was born at Bedonia, in the province of Parma, Italy, and arrived in Hong Kong in 1925.
After a period of linguistic study, he served briefly as assistant priest at Sai Kung and as rector of the seminary. He then became assistant priest at Rosary Church, Kowloon.
In 1928, he and a Chinese colleague, Father Philip Lau, founded Kung Kao Po, the Hong Kong diocesan Chinese paper, amid prophecies of failure. Kung Kao Pao is still flourishing.
From 1931 to 1967, as parish priest first of St. Joseph’s then of St. Teresa’s and them again of St. Joseph’s, Father Granelli played a major part in the Catholic life of Hong Kong.
His energy and zeal, directed by a brilliant mind, gave the them new St. Teresa’s parish a flying start and made St. Joseph’s Church in Garden Road, an unforgettable center for its constantly changing congregation.
Declining health forced his resignation form St. Joseph’s parish in 1967, and he retired to lighter duties at the PIME House, Clearwater Bay Road, Kowloon.
The funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Margaret’s Church, Happy Valley, at 10am tomorrow, followed by burial at St. Michael’s Cemetery.
A Requiem Mass will be
celebrated at St. Joseph’s Church, Garden Road, at 6pm next Monday.
17 August 1976
Death of Father Granelli, P.I.M.E.
Father Andrew Granelli, PIME, died at St.
Joseph’s Home for the Aged, Clear Water Bay Road, Kowloon. On Sunday, 15 August 1976, aged
84, after over half a century of priestly work in Hong Kong.
There are few countries in the world in which this news will not be greeted with sincere personal regret; for Father Granelli’s work brought him into touch with men and women of almost every nation. Most of those who met him for even a short time conceived lasting affection for him, and his personality was so striking that to know him was to remember him always. In the course of his long life he achieved much. Yet the news of his death will stir memories of what he was rather than of the many things he did.
He was, to an eminent degree, a thinker, a wit, a linguist, a brilliant talker, a commentator on his times, a courteous gentleman, a man with a gift for friendship, and a zealous and devoted priest.
Father Granelli was born on 12 July 1892, at Bedonia, in the province of Parma, Italy. His eldest brother was a priest and he too wished to be a priest. He therefore entered the Piacenza seminary in 1909.
His seminary career was a very odd one. The (now almost forgotten) Italo-Turkish war broke out in that year and the young Signor Granelli was called to the colours. Two Balkan Wars and World War I kept the Italian army in a state of at first partial and later total mobilization throughout the whole period of Father Granelli's seminary studies. His last military post was that of secretary to a general. It is scarcely too much to say that he went to the seminary whenever the army decided that for the moment it could do without him. At the end of his scrappy Seminary training, he graduated brilliantly.
In December 1918, immediately after the end of hostilities, he was ordained priest and returned to the army as a military chaplain.
On demobilization he wanted to take up missionary life, but the Bishop of Piacenza felt he could not spare him, so for three years he served in the diocese partly as a seminary professor, partly as a parish priest.
In 1924 a new bishop granted his missionary request, and Father Granelli joined the PIME on 20 October 1924.
For a year, he taught Moral Theology and Canon Law in the PIME seminary. Then the longed-for opportunity came. He set out for Hong Kong, arriving here on 8 November 1925 and starting at once to master Cantonese and English. Let others speak of his skill in Cantonese. His mastery of English was remarkable. His vowels, it is true, retained an Italian tinge to the end; but in both speech and writing he acquired a command of accurate, idiomatic, rhythmic and pointed English that matched the unforced originality of his thought.
He served briefly as assistant priest in Rosary Church and Saikung District, was Rector of the minor seminary for a year and then returned to Rosary Church.
As assistant priest there, he conceived the idea of founding a Chinese paper in collaboration with Father Philip Lau. They started their paper, Kung Kao Po, amid prophecies that it could not possibly succeed. Kung Kao Po will celebrate its Golden Jubilee on 4 October 1978. The prophets were inaccurate.
He was parish priest of St. Joseph’s for the first time from 1931 to 1933. In 1933 he transferred to the new St. Teresa’s Church, Kowloon, and gave the parish a flying start, throwing himself with all vigour into building up a wide variety of societies and associations. Three years of overwork undermined his health, and for a year he contented himself with the lighter duties of chaplain to La Salle College 1936-37. Restored to full health, he returned to St. Teresa’s for a decade, interrupted by a wartime period in Macao, where his indomitable high spirit helped the despondent to see the bright side of life, even amid the discouragement of war.
He spent 1949 in Detroit, working under the direction of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.
He returned to Hong Kong in 1949 as Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Church, where he spent the rest of his active life.
In addition to his work as Parish Priest he held the post of Official of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal. In many dioceses, this is a light burden. Circumstances made it a very heavy burden in the Hong Kong of the 1950s and 1960s. Some of the cases he dealt with made Canon Law history. Yet such tasks, however absorbing, were not allowed to interfere with his work for his parish.
He loved to give a friend a cup of coffee and a bout of gay conversation after Mass. Probably none of those who enjoyed this privilege - and it was a privilege - will have forgotten how the arrival of someone looking for priestly counsel or comfort would drive all thought of friends and of conversation from his head an heart. He delighted in companionship, but he was a priest first.
Few too who use attend the Children’s Mass at 9am on Sundays will have forgotten how the huge bearded Father Granelli and the children in front of him seemed to fuse into a single worshipping body.
There are many other memories. Ill health withdrew Father Granelli from the public gaze ten years ago, but memories abide.
Recurring ill health in many forms had chequered the years his great energy. A gradual relinquishment of powers rather than any specific illness characterised his years of partial and then full retirement; but his high intelligence, his gay wit and his great courtesy and gift of friendship remained to the end.
He died at the most appropriate of moments, as the Angelus was ringing at noon on the Feast of the Assumption of our Lady.
He was buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Hong Kong. On 18 August.
20 August 1976
Father Granelli's work in Macau recalled
Sad news doesn’t always travel fast, and it was only a few days ago that I learnt of Father Granelli’s passing.
Tributes to him have dealt fully with his activities in Hong Kong, but only a word or two has been said of what he meant to we refugees in Macau during the Pacific War.
His arrival there, after some thousands of Hong Kong Catholics had already moved to that haven, gave much satisfaction; and the Church of St. Agostinho was turned over to him as a place where he could minister to our spiritual needs.
I don’t remember where he lived in Macau, but I vividly recall that his frequent trips from one refugee center to another were made on a racing bicycle whose slim types looked even thinner when nearly all else of the machine was dwarfed by his bulk and, in the winter, enveloped in his overcoat. He did us a world of good with his optimism and constant cheerfulness.
He was a man of many parts, and taught us to make spaghetti, a worthwhile accomplishment when there was such a limited variety in food.
He was not one for wasting time. One Sunday he saw in a queue waiting for confession a familiar figure, that of a simple minded person incapable of any major sin and, when her turn came, Father Granelli, who was not going to listen to a long recitation of peccadilloes real or imagined, leaned out of the confessional, gave her absolution before she could utter a word, and sent her on her way - to her plain vexation.
As “our” priest, it was not always plain sailing for him. The then Bishop of Macau sought to impose his own notions throughout his diocese.
Women and even young girls were not to go to church stocking less or in sleeveless frocks; and men and teenage boys not to be given communion if wearing shorts. And there were countless pinpricks calculated to irritate a less unenlightened cleric.
To Father Granelli, a man of the world (he would have made an admirable bishop of Hong Kong), these petty inhibitions were particularly annoying, especially as with the shortage of money and of clothing, it was impossible to dress to satisfy the bishop.
However, this was not a major issue such as might have turned Father Granelli into a prototype of Archbishop Lefebver. He continued with his good work, seeking solace in the company of his broadminded confreres, the Irish Jesuits from Hong Kong, who also did sterling work in Macau.
(One of them, incidentally, a chemist, turned his hand in his spare time to the production of some nail varnish for may wife; and, not for me, liquor of undoubted potency but dubious quality, this latter pursuit being quickly scotched by his brother priests. But this is another story).
And, when particularly incensed by some new ukase, he would betake himself to Taipei or Colane, striding over the low hills in pyjamas and armed with an air-gun, working off his feelings by the occasional potshot at a bulbul.
It was in Macau that he celebrated his silver jubilee as a priest, when we refugees marked the day with a breakfast following a special Mass and presented him with a voluminous black overcoat, which we were happy to see serving him well during the winters made even colder by short rations.
This was not Father Granelli’s first experience of war. He had been in World War I, and in the retreat at Caporetto when, he told me, he was on the run constantly for three days and nights, to end up, purblind from sheer exhaustion, in a military hospital where his recovery took several weeks. This must have taken a severe toll of his physique, and he was never a “well” man in Hong Kong.
But despite his disabilities, he was always full of a sense of humour, one of the things I liked about him. Another was the pithiness and brevity of his sermons. These were especially welcome in Macau, where at other churches the average length of Mass was 54 minutes, of which some 28 were tasked up with preaching.
And, of course, my wife and I have always had a soft spot for he who married us at St. Teresa’s.
I last saw him several months ago at the Home for the Aged where he had a tiny room to himself, and was obviously well and lovingly cared after. I had brought him some cigarettes. When I asked whether he was still smoking he answered “like a chimney!” And lit one immediately.
It is good to know that Wilfred Pickering, a man after Father Granelli’s own heart, read the Lesson at his Requiem.
Hong Kong has lost one of its
most worthy “old hands.” My favorites priest. Requiescat.
28 September 1976
在 本 教 區 服 務 達 五 十 年 之 久 的 宗 座 外 方 傳 教 會 會 士 顏 思 回 神 父 ， 已 於 一 九 七 六 年 八 月 十 五 日 正 午 十 二 時 在 清 水 灣 道 聖 若 瑟 安 老 院 安 息 主 懷 ， 享 年 八 十 四 歲 。 追 思 彌 撒 於 本 月 十 八 日 上 午 十 時 在 聖 瑪 加 利 大 堂 舉 行 ， 彌 撒 後 ， 隨 即 安 葬 於 跑 馬 地 天 主 教 墳 場 。
顏 思 回 神 父 一 八 九 二 年 生 於 意 大 利 ， 一 九 一 八 年 在
意 晉 鐸 ， 一 九 二 四 年 入 宗 座 外 方 傳 教 會 ， 一 九 二 五
年 來 港 服 務 。 首 先 任 九 龍 玫 瑰 堂 助 理 堂 區 司 鐸 ， 一
九 二 六 年 七 月 在 新 界 西 貢 工 作 ， 同 年 十 二 月 被 委 為
聖 母 無 原 罪 小 修 院 院 長 ， 一 九 二 八 年 仍 回 玫 瑰 堂 服
務 並 於 同 年 八 月 四 日 創 辦 公 教 報 。 一 九 三 一 年 被 委
為 香 港 聖 若 瑟 堂 主 任 司 鐸 ， 一 九 三 三 年 轉 往 九 龍 剛
落 成 之 聖 德 肋 撒 堂 出 任 主 任 司 鐸 ， 一 九 三 六 年 因 健
康 欠 佳 改 任 喇 沙 書 院 神 師 ， 一 九 三 七 年 後 再 擔 任 聖
德 肋 撒 堂 主 任 司 鐸 ， 一 九 四 九 年 被 委 為 香 港 聖 若 瑟
堂 主 任 司 鐸 ， 並 兼 理 教 區 法 庭 事 務 ， 一 九 六 九 年 任
清 水 灣 宗 座 外 方 傳 教 會 會 院 院 長 ， 一 九 七 ０ 年 再 度
協 助 香 港 聖 若 瑟 堂 教 務 ， 一 九 七 二 年 因 年 老 力 衰 至
清 水 灣 該 會 會 院 退 休 ， 至 最 近 數 月 前 到 安 老 院 直 至
逝 世 。
1976 年 8 月 20 日
◆ From Milan to Hong Kong 150 Years of Mission, by Gianni Criveller, Vox Amica Press, 2008.
◆ 從米蘭到香港150年傳教使命, 柯毅霖著, 良友之聲出版社, 2008.
◆ 先賢錄－－香港天主教神職及男女修會會士 (1841-2010), 天主教香港教區檔案處, 2010.