紀念日 / Memorial date
理神父在新界西貢學習中文後， 即派往惠州淡水傳教， 後出任灣仔聖方濟各堂主任司鐸，歷21年之久。在此期間，灣仔教友人數大增，理神父遂籌建煉靈堂及基立小學。1954年奉主教命出任香港仔聖伯多祿堂主任司鐸， 熱心工作如故，在該處設立聖伯多祿小學，並籌建新堂。正直計劃實現前夕，蒙主寵召。
Death of Father James Zilioli, P.I.M.E.
Father James Zilioli, PIME, Parish Priest of St. Peter’s Church, Aberdeen (Former Parish Priset of Holy Souls’ Church, Wanchai) died on Monday 18 July 1960, aged 62.
His death has caused deep sorrow not only to His Lordship the Bishop and the priests of the diocese, but also to the innumerable Catholics who had benefited from his tireless priestly zeal and to the many non-Catholics who meeting Father Zilioli in the course of his work (he eschewed social life) had learnt to treasure him as a friend.
Before retiring on the night before his death, he told his assistant priests that he was very tired, and he asked them not to call him until the unusually late hour of 8am. On the following morning one of the assistant priests knocked at his room. Having received no answer, he forced the door and found Father Zilioli lying dead on the floor. At once he telephoned His Lordship the Bishop.
His Lordship and Father Zilioli had been friends since they first met, over half a century ago, in their early seminary days. They had gone through their studies together, and had come to Hong Kong together in 1923. Hastening to pay his last respects His Lordship found the body of his friend already laid out in the parish church and round it already a great concourse of parishioners, men, women, and children, most of them in tears for the beloved parish priest to whom, under God, so many of them owe the gift of faith.
Father Zilioli was born on 19 May 1898, in Brescia, Italy. He began his long journey to the priesthood in 1911 when he entered the seminary. After his ordination in 1923 he came to Hong Kong. Having studied Chinese for a time in Sai Kung, he was sent to Tam Shui, Waichow, in the province of Kwangtung, where he worked till 1926, when he was assigned to the Catholic Mission Procuration in Hong Kong.
Some years later he was appointed parish priest of Wanchai, Hong Kong, and laboured there unremittingly for the next 21 years. The number of Catholics in the parish increased so rapidly under his zealous care that before very long the old St. Francis’ Church could no longer hold them. Father Zilioli therefore built for them the great building that houses Ki Lap parochial school, and on the top floor, Holy Souls’ Church as it is universally called.
In 1954, His Lordship appointed him pariahs priest of St. Peter’s, Aberdeen. Father Zilioli quickly made himself as completely at home and as dearly loved in his new fishing-village parish as he had formerly been in the city parish of Wanchai. He set to work at once with the dauntless courage and boundless energy that made so strange a contrast with his frail even emaciated body. In the six years he spent in Aberdeen, the Catholic population more than doubled, and the parish buildings were radically transformed. An approach road was constructed. A new parish school was built. The building proved defective, so Father Zilioli had it torn down and rebuilt. He then turned his attention to the parish church, delapidated and too small now for the rapidly growing parish. All is ready for the building of the new church. Father Zilioli has not lived to see work begin, but all arrangements have been made, and the new church will be a memorial to him, almost as completely as are the Ki Lap School and Holy Souls’ Church Wahchai, and St. Peter’s School, Aberdeen.
These buildings will preserve his memory; but the tears openly shed round his bier are an even better measure of what Father Zilioli meant to Hong Kong.
Father James Zilioli
By Father T.F. Ryan, S.J.
Fr. Zilioli died suddenly on the 18 July, so the funeral took place on the same day that his death was announced. Yet St. Margaret’s Church was filled to the doors for the Requiem Mass, and more than 1,000 persons were present at the graveside for his burial, with the largest attendance of priests and nuns seen in the cemetery for many years. This was the most eloquent testimony that could be given to the high regard in which he was held by all the Catholics of Hong Kong.
He was one of the most unobtrusive of men, yet he was one of the best-known priests in Hong Kong. He had a reputation for sanctity that was universal, and in the two parishes in which had spent the last thirty years of his life he was the object of deep love and veneration.
He was sixty-two years of age. He was a native of Brescia, in North Italy, where he attended the Jesuit College of Cesare Arici. There as a boy he became a member of the Sodality of Our Lady to which he was fervently attached all his life, and propagated with special zeal wherever he went. He did his priestly studies in the College of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions of Italy, and after his ordination was assigned to Hong Kong, where he came in 1923. His companion then, as during all his seminary years, was our present Bishop, Mgr. L. Bianchi, with whom he was bound by close friendship and mutual respect throughout his life.
On coming here he went first to Saikung in the New Territory, where he studied Chinese, and then was assigned to Tamshui, in Kwangtung. In 1926 he was brought back to Hong Kong and he remained here till his death. First he worked for a few years in the Mission Precuration, but in 1932 he went to St. Francis’ Church in Wanchai, and for more than twenty years Wanchai was his field of labour, and its people the one object of all his thoughts and endeavours. The relations that existed between him and those among whom he lived were such as one rarely finds nowadays in a city. He was their confidant in every trouble and their helper in every form of distress. They crowded about him wherever he want, and to all, rich and poor - but most were poor - he gave sympathy and attention, and stern counsel when it was needed. He was king to the depth of his heart, but he was not soft or easily deceived, and the parishioners soon learned that it was idle to go to him with a tale of woc that was not genuine. When need was real he seemed to have an instinct of knowing it even before it was told to him. The influence he exerted was very great, and the amount of good which he accomplished incalculable.
Long before the war his great aim was to build a large church in Wanchai, since St. Francis’, attached to the Hospital, was far too small. He planned for years, and looked out for every available site, and seemed on the verge of realizing his hopes when the war came and upset his plans for many years. No sooner had peace returned that he set to planning again, and when the new church was built at last he was its first parish priest. His devotion to the Souls in Purgatory was shown by his desire to have the church consecrated to devotion to them, and probably the happiest day of his life was when at last it was opened for public worship and blessed by His Lordship the Bishop. Incorporated in the building was the Ki Lap School, and this was the culmination of his other ambition, to have a large parish school. Church and school remain as a monument to him.
In 1954 he was transferred to Aberdeen, where he became Parish Priest of St. Peter’s Church. Wanchai seemed hardly the same without him. The familiar figure of the tiny man with the broad-brimmed hat who walked every day with downcast eyes on his regular journey to the cathedral was missed, but it was a very short time till the same figure became equally well-known in Aberdeen. There Fr. Zilioli began anew the same zealous work and the same patient planning. A new school was needed, and he set to work to built it. There were set-backs in realizing his hopes, but at last the school was ready; the “new” parish priest had given Aberdeen what it greatly needed. On the day on which the school was opened the Director of Education, the Hon. D. J. S. Crozier, always one of his warmest supporters, paid public tribute to the devoted work certainty this most retiring of priests, and pointed to its as something deserving of admiration by the whole Colony.
The fulfillment of this first task in Aberdeen was followed at once by plans for another, and a larger, one, the building of a new church. He was never one who expected money to be put into his hands for the projects he conceived. He set out to find it perseveringly. His succession of bazaars brought him money in the way that he valued it most, by small amounts gained thought the efforts of devoted helpers. Those who had worked for him in Wanchai did not abandon him when he went from amongst them; they continued to work beside him in Aberdeen and to stimulate his new parishioners to equal effort. With the aid of his many friends his new ambition was on the way to fulfillment. He had the plans ready for the new church. If he had lived to see its completion, he would have begun immediately on something new, for he was already thinking of further educational developments for Aberdeen, His call came before the material side of his work was completed, but there must be a wonderful mansion in heaven waiting for him.
It would be hard to imagine anyone more devoted to his work as a priest than Fr. Zilioli. What the sacrifice must have been to himself no one had an opportunity of knowing, for of himself he never spoke. His frailty was evident and for years his health was feeble, yet it was a practical impossibility to induce him to take any care of himself. He was induced finally to go to hospital about a year ago, but he interpreted his stay there as little more than a transfer to an inconvenient place to sleep, and he was so much out of hospital while he was supposed to be in it that it was not long until he was able to say that his “cure” was finished, and he was back at his post.
He was not a man of the twentieth century as our bustling restless age expects men to be. He belonged to the timeless, unworldly company of men that in every age have gone through life devoted only to one thing, the service of God. He made no concessions to conventions that did not affect his work; race, nationality, state or condition meant nothing to him, and he was held in universal respect, a silent reminder of ideals which many feel should be their aim, but which are attained by only devoted few. May his gentle soul rest in peace with God!
*Birth in Mazzano, Brescia (布雷西亞), Italy (意大利): 19 May 1898
*Enter Novitiate: 6 September 1921
*Ordination: 26 May 1923
*Departure from Italy to Hong Kong: 29 July 1923
*Death in Hong Kong: 18 July 1960
*Sai Kung, New Territories: 1924
*Huiyang (惠陽) District, Tam Tong (淡塘): 1925
*Assistant Director of St. Louis Industrial School: 1927
*Huiyang, Wang Lak (橫瀝): 1928
*Catholic Mission, Caine Road: 1929 - 1932
*In Charge of Wanchai Chapel: 1933 - 1934
*Rector of St. Francis' Church, Wanchai: 1935 - 1941, 1948 - 1950
*Rector of Holy Soul's Church, Wanchai: 1951 - 1953
*Bishop's House, Caine Road: 1954
*St. Peter's Church, Aberdeen: 1955 - 1960
Kung Kao Pao, July 22, 1960