Rev. DOPCHIE, George CICM
杜志明神父

 

* Birth in Belgium (比利時0: [20 November 1916]
* Ordination in London (倫敦), U.K. (英國): [29 March 1941]
* Arrival in Hong Kong: [16 November 1953]
* Death in Hong Kong: [7 May 1987]


 

Death of Father George Dopchie, C.I.C.M.
R.I.P.

Father George Dopchie, CICM, Port Chaplain, died in Canossa Hospital on Friday, 7 May 1987, after a very brief illness.

Father Dopchie was born in Belgium in 1916. He joined the Scheut Fathers as a young man, and was in his studies when war poured over his native country. Fearing that this would delay his departure for China, he made his perilous way to England to continue his training there. After a time, his family had the consolation of hearing it announced on the BBC that he had been ordained in London 1941.

The door to China was closed, so he made his way to what is now Zaire, then Belgian Congo, to start his missionary career there in 1942. His bear, however, was still in China and he arrived in Peking in February 1947.

After only a few years, there came the Communist take-over, and Father Dopchie found himself under house arrest. Several times he succeeded in escaping surveillance in order to celebrate Mass secretly for his flock.

After expulsion from China, he arrived in Hong Kong in 1953 and took up parish work. He took the lead in the building of St. Mary
s Church, Hung Hom, and was its first Parish Priest.

In 1968 he accepted the invitation of Bishop Francis Hsu to be the Port Chaplain of the Apostleship of the Sea, a post that demanded physical endurance as well as apostolic zeal. Father Dopchie had both. Advancing years failed to sap his energies. An endless stream of seafarers flows through the port of Hong Kong and Father Dopchie made heroic efforts to serve them all.

On Thursday, 4 May, on his doctor
s advice he entered Caonssa Hospital for what he believed would be a short stay, telling his secretary that he would, be out on Monday, 11 May in time for an important meeting. His very repaid decline shocked his brethren and his many friends. It was probably the way he himself would have chosen to go; just time to receive the last Sacraments, and then off to eternity. He was always vigorous. He was vigorous even in death.

The Mass of the Resurrection was concelebrated by the Bishop and a large number of priests in Christ the King Chapel, St. Paul
s Convent, Causeway Bay, on Monday, 11 May.
15 May 1987



In Memoriam - Father Dopchie
Ecumenical Service at Mariners’ Club

On May 8, an ecumenical service was held in St Peter’s Seaman Chapel at Mariners’ Club, to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Father G. A. Dopchie, CICM. Father J. B. Tsang, V.G. the Anglican Chaplain, Rev. Wally Andrew, and Father J. Nijssen, CICM, Catholic Chaplain officiated. A special note of graciousness entered the service when a very beautiful pair of candles, given as a special memorial to Father Dopchie, were blessed in the presence of the congregation.

The following talk was given by Father Nijssen, Father Dopchie’s successor.

“The life of Father George is made up of many unusual and extraordinary happenings. We asked him so many times to write down his memoirs, but, as he often put it, he “had no time to lose on such futile things - there were so many things to do, so many seamen to visit…”

Father George was a man of duty and a missionary to his fingertips. Nothing could stop him from putting his missionary vocation into action. For instance, when World War II broke out in 1940, George was just ending his third year Theology in our seminary in Belgium. All seminarians were told to go back home and wait. George, however, just could not wait - he jumped on his bicycle, crossed the whole occupied zone of France (more than 1,000km), and, with the help of a “borrowed” soldier’s uniform, boarded a military ship to London. There, he finished his last year of theology and was ordained priest on 29 March 1941. The following Sunday, he said his First Mass in front of the whole Belgian Government in exile, who, in the Belgian Church: of Camden Town, had asked for a special service for peace. That same evening, the radio broadcasted all over Belgium that the Government had attended a special Mass in London for peace that this was also the First Mass of a young, newly-ordained Belgian priest - George Dopchie. Of course, in his native town of Renaix, everybody heard the good news. They all congratulated George’s parents, who since the war broke out, had had no news of him, or of his whereabouts.

George’s dream of going to China was impossible because of the war. He heard, however, that there were military ships going to Zaire (known as the Belgian Congo at that time). Since he could not wait to put his missionary vocation into practice, he decided to enroll with paratroopers, to follow their training for over a year, and to study some tropical medicine. He eventually left for Zaire on 27 October 1942. He had thus the distinction of being the only Belgian missionary to leave for the missions during the war! And note: all this without his superiors or family knowing about it. George was and would always be his own man!

He stayed in Zaire for three years, teaching in the minor seminary in Boma. Those who knew him remember him as a dedicated teacher, who used all his free time to - studying Chinese!

When the war was over, nobody could persuade him to stay in Zaire. Hence, in early 1946, he was back in Belgium, this time pleading with his Superior General to be allowed to go with the first batch of post-war China-bound missionaries. By the end of 1946, he was in Peking, studying the Chinese language. A few months later, he was already serving in a small parish of Xiwanzi.

The relative clam of that time was but short-lived. Less than two years later, the Communists arrived and occupied the town. They thought that they could easily get rid of that foreign priest, George Dopchie, but they were wrong! George had decided to stay at any price - and so he did, for over five years, living virtually under house arrest, not being allowed to go out to buy food or to say Mass George, however, was a fearless missionary. Since he was not allowed to leave the rectory, he asked people to visit him under the pretext of sickness - his knowledge of tropical medicine learned in London, proved to be most useful in Mongolia. Pretending to heal visitors, he was, in fact, hearing confessions, giving Communion and even teaching catechism. The people gave him plenty of food, which was what he needed most.

At night, while his guards were asleep, George would often grab his rucksack, squeeze out through a window, climb a few walls, and arrive at the homes of Catholics who would lend him their bicycle so that he could visit faraway villages to administer the sacraments and teach catechism. He always made it a point to be back before sunrise, just when his captors would come to check up on him. What a daredevil life it was… and how it fitted George’s character!

This game of cat-and-mouse, however, could not last. In 1953, the Communist found an inane pretext for bringing him to court. His best friends were forced to accuse him wrongly, and he was expelled “for ever”, arriving Hong Kong in 1953. At that time, all missionaries arriving in Hong Kong from mainland China, were asked by the local bishop to go to other places. There were simply far too many of them. George had given his life to the Chinese, and he did not want to go anywhere else. He therefore managed, through letters from superiors, bishops (don’t ask how he got them) and so on, to be accepted by the local bishop. Thanks to his obstinacy, CICM started its work in Hong Kong!

His work here would take too long to go into details, Suffice it to say that George’s “Holy Disobedience” to bishops and superiors, created the parish of Hunghom, which is now a flourishing parish with over 10,000 Catholic.

He then started his work amongst the seamen and kept going for another 18 years. But then, his erstwhile strong health began to show signs of wearing out: he had fallen from boats, bumped his head against low ship-ceilings, been in and out of hospital several times, and - let’s not hide it - his liver had manifested signs of “overwork” due to the unceasing invitations of seamen to join them for a drink at the bar. George tried to ignore all these signs, and continued every day visiting ships and giving himself totally to his missionary vocation, right till the end, when a heart attack felled him.

Those who knew Father George, will never forget his sense of duty and his hardworking nature. He had been four years in Zaire, seven years in Mongolia, and 34 years in Hong Kong.

Let us thank the Lord for such a rich missionary life!
20
May 1988
 


杜志明神父回歸父鄉

在 香 港 為 堂 區 及 海 員 服 務 四 十 多 年 的 聖 母 聖 心 會 杜 志 明 神 父 , 於 一 九 八 七 年 五 月 七 日 因 心 臟 病 去 世 , 享 年 七 十 一 歲 。

杜 志 明 神 父 一 九 一 六 年 在 比 利 時 出 生 , 一 九 四 一 年 在 倫 敦 晉 鐸 , 一 九 五 三 年 來 港 服 務 , 曾 在 紅 磡 聖 心 小 堂 及 聖 母 堂 擔 任 堂 區 工 作 , 由 一 九 六 八 年 開 始 在 尖 沙 咀 海 員 俱 樂 部 為 海 員 服 務 。

杜 神 父 的 喪 禮 已 於 本 月 十 一 日 舉 行 , 由 胡 主 教 主 禮 , 禮 成 後 即 葬 於 跑 馬 地 天 主 教 墳 場 。 1987 年 5 月 15 日

 

哀悼杜志明神父
黃雪芹

「黑 夜 之 中 放 光 明……」 教 友 們 正 跟 著 琴 聲 唱 頌 恩 歌 集 ; 可 是 我 唱 至 第 二 句 已 咽 喉 結 梗 , 不 能 再 唱 下 去 了 ! 望 著 靈 柩 、 遺 像 , 我 竟 泣 不 成 聲 。 神 父 啊 ! 你 歡 樂 的 笑 容 , 仁 慈 的 聲 音 , 環 繞 著 我 的 耳 際 ; 那 時 候 、 你 在 漆 咸 道 租 了 一 層 樓 , 作 為 聖 母 聖 心 小 堂 , 展 開 你 的 傳 教 工 作 。 很 幸 運 地 , 我 們 一 家 人 , 作 了 你 聖 堂 的 第 一 家 教 友 。 孩 子 們 都 很 喜 歡 你 這 位 平 易 近 人 笑 臉 常 開 的 好 神 父 。 現 在 舊 事 填 胸 、 思 之 悽 梗 , 如 影 歷 歷 , 迫 取 便 逝 。 「上 主 是 我 的 牧 者 ……」 歌 聲 又 起 , 一 陣 陣 心 酸 , 淚 如 泉 湧 , 我 不 能 跟 著 唱 , 神 父 ! 你 在 笑 ! 就 像 三 十 餘 年 前 , 我 們 一 起 佈 置 小 聖 堂 、 擺 祭 台 、 練 聖 歌 , 你 只 會 講 國 語 , 每 主 日 要 講 道 理 時 , 必 於 星 期 六 共 同 磋 商 用 廣 東 話 講 , 你 用 拉 丁 文 注 音 , 得 聖 神 的 助 佑 , 進 步 神 速 ; 至 聖 誕 時 , 你 已 有 許 多 教 友 , 因 聖 堂 太 小 , 容 納 不 了 那 麼 多 人 , 故 只 能 到 較 大 的 天 台 上 去 獻 子 夜 彌 撒 。 我 們 多 麽 歡 喜 啊 ! 那 時 我 縫 製 的 捐 款 袋 也 嫌 太 小 了 ! 於 是 再 改 縫 大 的 …… 哀 傷 中 , 我 墮 進 了 回 憶 裡 。

胡 主 教 領 導 著 神 父 們 , 白 袍 紫 帶 , 向 你 的 遺 像 鞠 躬 。 約 七 、 八 十 位 神 父 , 共 同 為 你 奉 獻 安 所 彌 撒 。 曾 慶 文 副 主 教 以 沉 重 悲 壯 的 聲 調 , 簡 述 你 的 生 平 : 「…… 一 九 一 六 年 十 一 月 二 十 日 生 於 比 利 時 , 一 九 三 五 年 九 月 八 日 加 入 聖 母 聖 心 會 , 一 九 四 一 年 三 月 廿 九 日 在 倫 敦 晉 鐸 , 後 往 非 洲 傳 教 , 一 九 四 七 年 調 往 北 平 , 一 九 五 三 年 被 逐 出 境 抵 港 。 一 九 六 八 年 你 已 完 成 了 紅 磡 聖 母 堂 , 由 墾 荒 以 至 建 堂 , 前 後 十 四 年 , 功 績 何 其 大 ? 這 時 你 功 成 身 退 , 調 往 海 員 俱 樂 部 , 照 顧 那 些 漂 泊 於 船 上 的 海 員 的 靈 魂 。

杜 神 父 一 生 盡 忠 職 守 , 辦 事 認 真 , 生 活 簡 樸 , 不 重 名 利 , 入 院 前 曾 告 訴 同 僚 , 等 我 好 些 再 向 你 們 報 告 , 把 會 議 延 至 五 月 十 一 日 吧 ! 可 是 五 月 八 日 即 因 心 臟 病 逝 於 嘉 諾 撒 醫 院 , 今 天 正 是 五 月 十 一 日 , 我 們 共 同 來 此 參 加 他 的 喪 禮……

繼 由 聖 母 聖 心 會 會 長 何 德 光 神 父 (Willy Hertecant) 用 英 語 述 說 杜 神 父 的 生 平 , 因 聖 公 會 的 牧 師 及 其 夫 人 都 來 參 加 。 田 恆 利 神 父 以 沉 痛 的 音 調 恭 讀 聖 若 望 福 音 , 台 上 主 教 神 父 們 , 都 懷 著 悲 痛 的 心 情 , 哀 悼 你 的 逝 去 , 數 百 教 友 及 修 女 們 俱 在 哀 傷 裡 !

安 所 彌 撒 禮 成 後 , 要 蓋 上 棺 木 時 妹 妹 和 我 一 個 箭 步 上 前 , 合 力 揭 開 棺 蓋 , 見 你 最 後 一 面 , 你 睡 得 那 麼 安 詳 , 散 發 著 聖 德 的 芬 芳 , 全 體 向 你 致 三 鞠 躬 , 顧 厚 德 神 父 就 像 你 的 孝 子 , 捧 著 你 的 遺 像 前 行 , 靈 柩 隨 後 , 妹 妹 扶 我 登 上 旅 遊 車 ; 現 任 聖 母 堂 主 任 司 鐸 梁 達 材 神 父 站 在 車 旁 , 扶 著 老 年 的 教 友 上 車 落 車 , 非 常 難 得 。 許 多 人 都 痛 哭 失 聲 , 胡 主 教 向 你 的 靈 柩 祈 禱 祝 福 , 入 土 為 安 , 棺 木 徐 徐 吊 下 墓 穴 , 這 時 啊 ! 我 心 痛 如 絞 , 跟 著 主 教 撒 下 沾 滿 淚 水 的 泥 沙 , 一 坯 黃 土 , 長 埋 白 骨 , 回 頭 望 望 你 的 左 鄰 右 里 , 俱 是 熟 悉 的 主 教 神 父 , 你 們 居 於 天 國 , 請 記 我 一 念 , 嗚 呼 哀 哉 !
1987 年 6 月 5 日


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.
先賢錄--香港天主教神職及男女修會會士 (1841-2016), 天主教香港教區檔案處, 2016.