Bro. Michael J. Curtin - Down the Memory Lane – Lasallians Remembered

Bro. Curtin, Michael J.

Date of Birth: 20 March 1908 Date of Death: 25 November 1983 Usual Classes Taught: Matriculation Subjects taught / role: Guidance Master and Careers Master


Brother Michael Curtin was born to a religious family on 20th March 1908 (some source states it was 26th March 1908) in London (Kensington). His grand uncle was a pioneer of the Irish Christian Brothers (not the same as Christian Brothers) in India and two of his cousins were in the Presentation Order. As a boy, he met a little French Brother of distinguished personality who inspired him much. At the age of 14, he joined the Juniorate of the Brothers in Guernsey (London) in 1922. After passing the London Matric, he was sent to Dover Novitiate and took the Holy Habit i.e. officially entered the Order in 1924 at the age of 16. He took his final vows in 1933. Brother Michael came to Hong Kong in 1933, and took charge of the newly opened Matriculation Class of La Salle College. These boys took their Matric Examination in June 1935 and captured all the scholarships offered by the University of Hong Kong. During the war, he was interned in Indo-China (now called Vietnam) and then returned to Europe. Brother Michael partially lost his hearing during the internment. With a hearing-aid, he carried on with his teaching. In 1952, Brother Raphael, then Director of St. Joseph’s College, Hong Kong called Brother Michael back to take over the Matric Class of St. Joseph’s College, Hong Kong. Nine years later, he returned to La Salle College. He was the Editor of the LaSallite for many years. In 1967, when Brother Casimir went on leave for 9 months, Brother Michael became the Acting Principal of La Salle College. Brother Michael joked that he was always the bridesmaid and never the bride! In 1973, on his retirement, he was given the post of Careers Master and Counsellor. Brother Michael was very active outside the school. He was elected a Committee Member of the Catholic Educational Council, a Co-Founder of the Hong Kong Association of Careers Master, the Panel Chairman of the Specified Modern Languages for the Hong Kong Certificate of Education. He also served on the Advanced Board of Modern Languages (HKU). In recognition of his contribution to Catholic education and education generally in Hong Kong, on the Queen’s Birthday, 1975, he was honoured with an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) Brother Michael died in St. Teresa’s Hospital, Hong Kong on 25th November 1983. Brother Raphael revealed a secret at the mass of resurrection of Brother Michael: Brother Michael always cared about the minor staff and insisted every year that all of them should receive Christmas gifts. _____________________________________________ The following information is obtained from The Catholic Archives Brother Michael J. Curtin, FSC, one of the leaders of education in Hong Kong, died at St. Teresa’s Hospital on Friday, 15 November 1983, aged 75. He had been ill for many months, but the end came very peacefully. Brother Michael came to Hong Kong in 1932, and spent the following 51 years at La Salle and St. Joseph’s Colleges, with a wartime and post-war interval in education in Indochina. For most of that time he was busy in the classroom as an original, vigorous and inspiring teacher. Even after his retirement from formal teaching he remained an educational force in La Salle and a valuable adviser on all educational matters. His contribution to Catholic education here was not confined to the schools he taught in. He was a founder-member of the Catholic Education Council and became its first Vice Chairman, retaining that post for many years. With his accustomed cheerful generosity, he accepted the arduous task of refining and redrafting the constitution of the Council to make it acceptable to the Register of Societies. He was also a founder-member of the Hong Kong Association of Careers Masters and gave devoted and expert attention to the progress of the Association. He himself shone in careers guidance, and he worked hard to promote this demanding and very valuable side of education. A recent Education Department circular on the Careers Work of La Salle College said that “the extensive careers and guidance team which consists of 13 teachers and a school social worker is one of the strongest teams in Hong Kong.” That team is largely the fruit of Brother Michael’s devoted work. His M.B.E. was well merited. All this gives a picture of an original and deeply committed educationalist. It cannot give a portrait of the man himself and cannot explain the deep affection in which he was held or the grief that the announcement of his death aroused. He was a man of high intelligence, broad sympathies, wide culture and unfailing charm. His sense of humour was quick and appreciative. His laugh was all his own: his whole body shook with amusement and his eyes shone forth appreciative understanding, but there was no sound; it was a silent laugh that expressed much more than the ordinary laugher’s roar. In a moving homily at the Mass of the Resurrection in St. Teresa’a Church on 28 November, Brother Raphael, Principal of La Salle College, mentioned something that only Brother Michael’s own community could know: his constant care for the welfare of the minor staff and his annual insistence that all of them should received Christmas gifts. It is useless to labour such details. Brother Michael was loved because he was Brother Michael. To know him was a liberal education. The secret has died with him, and Hong Kong is the poorer for his loss.


Contributed by: Tommy Chan (77)         2004-12-06 23:55:08
Description: I remember most of us had received a precious & memorable gift from Bro Michael——–our La Salle school transcripts.
Contributed by: Stanley Shum (84)         2004-12-06 23:54:26
Description: My twin brother, Henry Shum, and I were also summoned by Bro. Michael down to the Old Boys Room in 1980 when we were in Form 1. You know what, he told us that he wanted to take a few photos of us. And then, afterwards he told us that we would appear on the cover page of the Junior section. This happened for the following year as well. He didn’t give us anything, just a few developed photos, haha. As far as I can remember, he was really kind to us, seeing that my brother and I were really frightened at the time when we met him, (we didn’t know why we were brought down to the office) but he comforted us gently telling us not to be afraid.
Categories: Brothers, Deceased, Teachers