Building Catholic Churches in Hong Kong Stories of the laity and living faith

Ayako Fukushima
13,000 yen (excl. tax)
18.8 x 2.3 x 26.4 cm (7.4 x 0.9 x 10.4 inches), Hardback, 370 pages
September 2022
  • amazon


    This book presents a comprehensive history
of the development of Catholic Church architecture in Hong Kong from its birth
as a British colony in the mid-19th century and development as an international
financial hub throughout the 1900s, to its handover from British to Chinese
sovereignty in 1997, and subjection to a radical “mainlandisation” process in the
2020s. The author describes how the geopolitics of each period shaped the
architectural forms and usage of churches in ways that have radically distinguished them from their western

    The book also describes how the role of lay
Catholics in the building of churches in Hong Kong grew from almost nothing in
the 1950s, when most were refugees, to being one of dominance and
responsibility. As society matured in the late 20th century and Catholic lay
movements flourished worldwide with the development of new spiritualities,
consciousness of the significance of faith in everyday life among Catholics in
Hong Kong deepened profoundly. This book presents an in-depth study of Catholic
building professionals as a significant example, showing how architects,
engineers and builders pursued their spiritual growth through a deep
involvement in Church building projects.

    The 2020s left Hong Kong in a state of
profound political and social flux. The virtual trashing of the One Country,
Two Systems policy has seriously curtailed freedom, especially of speech and
media, and placed religion under extreme threat. Nevertheless, there are still
examples of Catholics striving to live out their faith. Those dedicated to
building and caring for churches in this Special Administrative Region of China
are the worthy subjects of this study.


List of Plates
List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Drawings
General notes and credits
  Theoretical Framework: Laity’s involvement in church building
    Secularisation of the study of Church architecture
    Pugin and Ruskin
    Catholics in Hong Kong
    Research question
  Literature review
    Archival research
  Sequence of chapters
Chapter 1 The discourse on the laity
  Concept of the laity from ancient times to the early 19th century
    Ancient times
    Middle Ages
    Modern times
  Concept of the laity from the late 19th century
    New theology and Catholic Action
    The Second Vatican Council
    Liturgical Reform
    Revision of the code of Canon Law
    Post-conciliar state of the laity
    Synod of Bishops, 1987
    The new Catholic movements and discernment of the spirit of the Council What is the laity in Hong Kong?
Chapter 2 Catholic churches in Hong Kong
  Chronological framework
       Background to the birth of the Hong Kong Catholic Church, 16th to mid-19th centuries
  Church architecture in China
  Comprehensive and typological studies of churches in Hong Kong
       Comprehensive research
  Typological study
  Types of churches
Chapter 3 1841 to 1945: Clergy-dominated era of building churches
  Historical background
    Growth of colony and Catholic Church
    Relations between the Church and Government
    Training professionals in building industry
  Types of churches
    Mission station
    Stand-alone church
    Chapel in convent, school or welfare facility
  Owner of church
  Clergy-centred building system
Chapter 4 1945 to 1960s: Building schools incorporating churches
  Historical background
    Religious persecution in China
    Refugee influx into Hong Kong
    Construction of schools by the Church
    Architectural education at University of Hong Kong
  Types of churches
    Stand-alone church
    Mission station
    Chapel in refugee settlement
    Church in public estate
    Churches in private building
    Church and school complex
    School chapel
    Mass centre in Catholic school
    Church with welfare facility
  Management of church building projects
    Chinese architects
    Traditional lack of lay ministry
    Lay ministry accelerated by the Second Vatican Council
Chapter 5 1970s to 1981: Emergence of Hong Kong Catholic Building Professionals
  Historical background
    Religious persecution in mainland China
    Government standard design schools
    Development of new towns and Hong Kong building professionals
  Types of churches
    Mass centre in government standard design school
    Church with welfare facility
    Church in private building
  Management of church building projects
              Bishop Hsu’s reform and Diocesan Convention, 1970
    Diocesan Development Committee, 1971
    Defects and participation of engineers, 1974
    Bishop Wu’s emphasis on lay ministry
    Liturgical Art and Architecture Commission, 1977
Chapter 6 1982 to 1989: Lay ministry and the handover of Hong Kong
  Historical background
    Increased control of religion on the mainland
    Announcement of the handover and fear
    Pursuit of democracy
  Church concern and remedial measures
    Bishop Wu’s response to the handover
    Lay ministry and small faith community
    Catholic Institute for Religion and Society, 1985
    Concession of the Church
  Transformation of Hong Kong society
    Hong Konger identity
    Hong Kong building professionals
  Types of churches and building projects of the Diocese
    Decrease of church/school complexes and Mass centres in Catholic school
    Increasing church building projects
    Discontinuation of Church Extension Fund
    Impasse of traditional management method
Chapter 7 1989 to 1996: Towards the establishment of Diocesan Building and Development Commission
  Historical background
    Tian’anmen Incident
    Intensified fear among Hong Kongers
    Boosting the building industry
    Intensified fear among Hong Kong Catholics and response of the Diocese
  Types of churches
    Church and kindergarten complex
    Church in private building
  Management of church building projects
    Architectural Consultant and Clerk of Works at Procuration
    Diocesan Liturgy Commission’s initiative for reform
    Hong Kong Catholic architects
    Theological training for Catholic building professionals
    Lay ministry in church building projects
    Proposal to Bishop
    Establishment of Diocesan Building and Development Commission, 1995
Chapter 8 1997 to 2005: Building a church through urban redevelopment
  Historical background
    Hindrance of democratisation
    Antagonistic Church and Government relations
    Economic dependence on China
Types of churches
    Church and kindergarten complex
    Church and urban redevelopment
  Redevelopment of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church
    History of the Catholic Church in Wan Chai, 1842-1996
    Pre-design phase
    Design phase: liturgical spaces
    Design phase: practical spaces
    Lay involvement in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church
Chapter 9 2006 to 2019: Lay spirituality movement
  Historical background
    Sinicisation of religions in China and the Sino-Vatican deal
    Pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong
    Catholic Church in the movements
    Aggravated housing and land provision issues
  Types of churches
    Church and kindergarten complex
    Church and community hall
    Revival of Mass centre in a Catholic school
  Stagnant church building projects
Catholic Building Professional Advisory Group and its spirituality
    Spirituality and CaBPAG
    CaBPAG and the handover factor
    Lay ministry and spirituality
Conclusion Act of building churches for lay Catholics in Hong Kong
    Pro-Democracy Movement, 2019
    The Church and the Pro-Democracy Movement
    The National Security Law for Hong Kong, 2020
    Religious persecution
    New Bishop of Hong Kong, 2021
    Catholic places of worship in the pandemic
    New building projects
    Lay ministry for church buildings
Appendix 1  List of Catholic churches in Hong Kong
Appendix 2  Architects who worked with the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, 1950s-1990s
Appendix 3  Biography and Church Projects of Chinese Architects, 1950s-1990s
Appendix 4  Bishops, Procurators and Diocesan commissions related to building
Appendix 5  Members and staff of the Diocesan Building and Development Commission (DBDC), 1995-2020


Ayako Fukushima, Ph.D., is a historian and Associate Professor at Kyushu University, Japan, as well as an honorary research associate at the Centre for Catholic Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include the history of 19th and 20th century Church architecture in Japan and Hong Kong and theory of heritage conservation. Her publications in English include, “Demolition of tangible properties as an intangible practice” in World Heritage, Tourism and Identity: Inscription and Co-production, edited by Laurent Bourdeau and Maria Gravari-Barbas (Routledge, 2015).


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