Rosary Church, 100 years of history
Rosary Church, Chatham Road, the oldest Catholic Church on the Kowloon Peninsula, was founded a century ago. Fr. Giovanni M. Spada (1867 -1950), recorded that at the time of the Boxer Uprising in 1900, Great Britain had mobilized several regiments to Hong Kong to be stationed in Kowloon.
Fr. Spada secured the loan of the Canossian missionary premises and offered mass at 8a.m. on Sundays to serve the needs of the Catholic military and lay people. As Tsim Sha Tsui district expanded and the population increased, a small Church – accommodating 800 people – was built in 1901.
Despite the return of the regiments to India in 1902 it soon became obvious that the small Church could not meet the local needs as the expatriates – especially the Portuguese community – living in Tsim Sha Tsui had greatly increased.
In October 1903, a Portuguese Catholic, Dr. Anthony Gomes, made a generous donation to build a new Catholic Church on land released by the Canossian Convent. At the foundation laying ceremony of the new Church, the then Hong Kong Auxiliary Bishop Fr. De Maria blessed the foundation stone on 10th December 1904. Rosary Church was eventually completed on 8th May 1905, and Fr. De Maria presided at the opening ceremony and consecration.
Since its completion in 1905, many improvements have been made. A marble altar has replaced the original wooden altar. In 1913, the aisle passageways on both sides of the Church and the sacristy were added. During the Japanese occupation, the big bell of Rosary Church was sold, and was not replaced until 1948 with a generous donation from an Italian artist.
The Shrine of our Lady of Lourdes was also built. The Church Parish Hall was opened in June 1947, and in 1949, Rosary Church was upgraded to a Parish. Refugees pouring in after the war increased the number of Catholics, so further extension work of the Church was undertaken, and completed by Christmas 1950.
The present outlook of the Church dates back to 1990 when the Church underwent extensive renovation. The renovated building provides a comfortable liturgical gathering place for Catholics. The baptismal font and the interior decorations all reflect the spirit of liturgical reforms of the Vatican II Council.
The tableau above the main altar in Church is that of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, for whom Rosary Church is dedicated. After Vatican II, the statues of St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena were removed from the tableau.
Replacement statues were commissioned by Fr. Mario Gutiérrez, our Parish Priest. These new statutes were installed for the 115th anniversary of Rosary Church on 3rd October, 2020.