Bro. Patrick Toner - Down the Memory Lane – Lasallians Remembered

Bro. Toner, Patrick

Date of Birth: 22 September 1892 Usual Classes Taught: Science, Maths, Art Period of Service: 1947 – 1956 Subjects taught / role: Principal Date of Death: September 1968


Brother Patrick Toner was born on 22nd September 1892 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. He joined the Christian Brothers at a very early age. He volunteered for the missions to the Far East and spent most of his life in Rangoon and Hong Kong. In Burma, Brother Patrick proved himself as a brilliant teacher and organizer. He brought St. Paul’s Rangoon to a very high scholastic standard.” At the end of the Pacific War, Brother Patrick was posted to La Salle College. He served as the Principal from 1947 to 1956. Life in the post-war era was difficult. Resources were scarce. To worsen the situation, the British government turned La Salle College into the 33rd General Hospital for the army in the summer of 1949. The school was moved to the temporary site in Perth Street, Homantin. Despite such setbacks, Brother Patrick braved all these difficulties. With great zeal and spirit, he raised the school to a very high standard in terms of intellectual activity, discipline and prestige. Brother Patrick also devoted much effort in the promotion of religious life at school and in the community. Brother Patrick is remembered as a man of great intelligence, a first class teacher and a strict but fair disciplinarian. He frequently took up classes from teachers on sick leave. Be it science, mathematics or arts, he would proceed smoothly. Brother Patrick appreciated nothing but the best from teachers and students. He conducted classroom inspection daily and carried out teacher evaluation himself. Mr. Henry Lau (1940) said, “He was the most dedicated and diligently devoted Principal I have worked for. Very learned, and always happy to share with us his bountiful knowledge.” Brother Patrick was a cat-lover and he moved like one. People seldom noticed his sudden presence in classes. Teachers and students were on alert all the time! Brother Patrick left La Salle College in 1956 for Europe. He died in Belfast in September 1968.

Contributed by: L.K. Wong         2007-11-13 15:15:49
Description: As the introductory passage above indicated, Bro Patrick was a disciplinarian. He promoted a serious, but calm, atmosphere for scholarship which was beneficial to all. I came into his office one day after school term had started, a total stranger to the English alphabet. My uncle had brought me after learning that I was still being schooled in the old Chinese classics. There I stood, listening to their brief conversation and, after my uncle had left, being led by Bro Patrick to the lowest form. That was our first encounter. The second time I was less fortunate. We had, as our form-master, a Miss Chin, a teacher in mathematics for the matric classes. She was the only female teacher in the entire school and wore fashionable cheungsam. One day, some rascal dropped blue ink on her back, which led to three of the boys in our class being picked out for punishment, presumably on account of the colour of ink we were using. I was one of the unlucky ones. The other two, as I remember, were Poon King Chung and Hui Koon Mun, the famous actor. All of us got caned by Bro Patrick in his office. The third time, I got lucky. Bro Patrick, as usual, was checking class discipline not from the corridor on the right, but from the windows looking out to the grass. The class might have been conducted by Mr. Yuen, our second form master after Miss Chin. This time, Bro Patrick ordered the whole class, with a few exceptions, to stay behind after school. I was one of the exceptions. In later years, when I read up on de La Salle’s philosophy of education, I found Bro Patrick putting it in practice. He accepted any young lad that came his way, rich or poor, well-bred or undisciplined. La Salle would offer them the best resources available for advancement in knowledge and character. In the few years he was with us as Principal, we never heard any speeches from him; he educated us simply by walking the corridors.
Categories: Brothers, Deceased, Teachers