Fr. James Lea - Down the Memory Lane – Lasallians Remembered

Fr. Lea, James

Date of Birth: 11 July 1933 Subjects taught / role: English, Religious Studies / Ethics Date of Death: 13 July 1993


Father James Lea, of the Hong Kong diocesan clergy, died at his home in the early morning on Tuesday, 13 July 1993, just two days after celebrating his 60th birthday. Father Lea was born on 11 July 1933, in Dublin, Ireland. In September of 1946, he entered the minor seminary at Longford to begin studies for the priesthood in the archdiocese of Dublin. While a student at Longford, he also enrolled in the faculty of philosophy at University College, Dublin where he eventually obtained his B.A. degree. In October of 1954, he was sent by his archbishop to the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome for theological studies. While there, he met a Hong Kong seminarian from the Beda College, Francis Hsu, who later became the first Chinese bishop of Hong Kong. This relationship helped spark an interest in Hong Kong and in November of 1957 while still a deacon, he was incardinated into the Hong Kong diocesan clergy. Father Lea was ordained a priest in Rome on 21 December 1957 and after the completion of his studies arrived in Hong Kong on 28 October 1958. The next two years were spent at Sedes Sapientiae House in Cheung Chau where he studied the Cantonese language. For the nest twelve years, Father Lea ministered as associate parish priest in Rosary Parish, Kowloon, the San Po Kong parish and Christ the Worker Parish in Jordan Valley. During this time he also acted as chaplain at La Salle College in Kowloon. In 1970 he began a long ministry as chaplain at the Kai Tak International Airport. At the same time he continued to both teach and act as chaplain at La Salle College and played a major role in the Hong Kong Legion of Mary. During the course of his years of ministry, Father James Lea made many friends who held him in very high regard. He will be deeply missed by all of there as well as by his fellow clergy in Hong Kong. His funeral Mass was held on Friday 16 July at St. Margaret’s Church in Happy Valley. Cardinal Wu was the main celebrant assisted by fifty concelebrating priests and many of his friends. His co-worker at the airport, Father Patrick O’Regan, SVD, paid fitting tribute in his eulogy to Father Lea’s years of service in the diocese. After the Mass, burial took place at the Catholic Cemetery in Happy Valley. *Birth in Ireland: [11 July 1933] *Ordination: [21 December 1957] *Death in Hong Kong: [13 July 1993] *House of Studies, Cheung Chau: [1959] *Rosary Church, Kowloon: Vicar Cooperator [1960], [1961] *La Salle College: Assistant [1962], [1963], [1964], [1965], [1966] *Mother of Good Counsel, San Po Kong: Assistant [1968] *Christ the Worker’s Chapel, Ngau Tau Kok: Assistant [1969] *La Salle College: [1970] – [1977] *Sacred Heart Chapel (R.A.F.Chapel), Kai Tak: [1970] – [1993] Information obtained from Father Lea’s grave is located in St Michael’s Catholic Cemetery, Happy Valley. The remains have been exhumed and are now placed in the wall behind the Chapel (outside the Chapel).

Contributed by: Ignatius Wong (1981 F7)         2006-03-13 05:33:15
Description: Father Lea’s command of the English language was very inspiring. At Form 6 and 7, he was our Ethics teacher. One day he came into the classroom, greeted us and was greeted by us, and then proceeded to write two words on the blackboard: “facetious”, and “abstemious”, and asked us to find the similarities between them. We quickly turned to our dictionaries and all other means possible, but to no avail. At the end of the class, he pointed out the obvious: that the two words contain all the vowels, a-e-i-o-u, and in order. “Now,” said Father, “try this on the DBS boys.” Another time during Ethics class, he spoke softly about an incident that had happened at school, the details of which I can’t remember. But what he did say I remembered for life. “Don’t curse the darkness, but light up a candle.” These words have been my guiding star for many years to come. Thank you Father.
Contributed by: Tommy Chan (77)         2005-12-30 17:52:22
Description: Father Lea always like to ask us funny questions during English lesson , eg,”What is LOYAL ?” Of course,no one knew or had the guts to answer his question in English . After moment of silence and all our heads kept down,he would give us the answer with his usual similing face , “LOYAL is LOYAL !” We have learned this simple way or trick of answering from him. Whenever any of us had the guts to use this simple way to answer his funny questions,he always seemed to be contended with his usual smiling face. I miss Father Lea !!
Contributed by: Victor Cheung (89 AL)         2004-12-25 22:51:16
Description: It’s rattlingly sad to learn that Father Lea has passed away. He will always be remembered for his sense of humour and pleasant personality. A lot of funny memories are still sticking in my mind and I will certainly treasure them in my life. His jokes and smiling face will always be remembered by all those people who knew him.
Contributed by: Mark Huang (85)         2004-06-29 23:37:23
Description: At Form 7, classmates were busy burning the midnight oil for readying themselves for the coming A-levels. Often students would fall asleep at ethics class, resting their head on the desk. Fr Lea never raised his voice (and he was kind of understanding). He would very gently say, “Anyone who would like to read the next passage, please put his head on his desk.” Then at final / mock exams for A levels, most students did not use their precious time to revise for the ethics exams. Many learnt the trick to pass the exam: once the test paper is received, the students would dictate the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be continuously for the duration of the exam. No student every failed that test when writing the exam like that. It’s well known Father Lea’s English was impeccable. Once he saw a student using a dictionary that was, in his views, not of a very good standard. He went to the boy, held up his book and said: “This dictionary is not so good. Maybe you should find a DBS student, and hand it to him and nicely say to him, “送俾你” (soong bei lei) (A gift for you)”. Fr Lea said it in his rarely used Cantonese, and I can still remember the broad cheeky smile on his face, clearly enjoying his own joke as much as we did. May God be as gracious to dear Father Lea’s soul as he was to us! RIP, Father Lea. We miss you.
Contributed by: David Hsu (1973)         2004-06-29 13:37:12
Description: Father Lea was our form master of F3A of 71-72. His English vocabulary is astounding and whenever he introduces new vocabularies, we have to raise our hands and ask him to explain the meaning. As those English words are just not in the lexican dictionary there is no way we could get the meaning. He is kindhearted and never did spank any students except asking the student to stand on the chair for first offence and to stand on the table if of more serious offence. Can you visualise standing on the table and Rev Bro Casimir doing the routine walking the corridor exercise. It is the most scarry mind boggling treat.
Contributed by: Lee Fong         2004-06-28 18:41:18
Description: I think Father Lea used to teach at a girl’s school before joining LSC. He said girls were very emotional so he preferred to teach boy’s school.
Categories: Deceased, Teachers