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Asian studies, linguistics gave missionary tools to make path smoother for Vietnamese refugees

 
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Brother Patrick Hogan, 1936-2017

Linguist and Divine Word Brother Patrick Hogan, 80, who created a specialized English-language program for Vietnamese refugees, died at Techny on Monday, June 5.

"With his background in linguistics, his experience in teaching Chinese students, and an understanding of Eastern Asia, Pat possessed the knowledge and skills necessary to develop Divine Word College’s specialized ESL program and teach scores of Vietnamese students how to speak, read and write English," said Divine Word Missionary Father Dennis Callan, who served as a missionary in Taiwan and Korea.

As the first chairman of Divine Word College’s Intensive English Language Institute in the 1970s, Brother Pat ushered in a new era for the Society of the Divine Word in North America. His efforts to teach English to Vietnamese immigrants led to a growth in vocations during the decades that followed.

Born in 1936 in Philadelphia and named after his father, he was the youngest of Theresa (nee Celebre) and Patrick Hogan’s three children. As a teenager, he studied at Divine Word Seminary in Conesus, N.Y., and professed vows in 1957.

Before perpetual vows, he was assigned to Asia and worked in the Finance Office of Nanzan University in Japan to gain on-the-job experience. He then was sent to Taiwan. While there, he and five other Divine Word Missionaries rebuilt Fu Jen University, which had been closed for 15 years by Chinese Communists in Beijing. Brother Pat professed perpetual vows in 1963 and spent the next six years as treasurer of Fu Jen University.

He once described his early career as that of an accountant, but God had other plans for him. In 1969, Brother Pat earned an undergraduate degree from Seton Hall University in New Jersey and received the university’s Cardinal Yu-Pin Medal for academic achievement in Asian Studies. Recognizing his talents, his superiors sent him back to Taiwan to teach English to Chinese students.

A few years later, academic studies drew him back to the United States. Brother Pat earned a master’s degree in linguistics from Georgetown University in 1975. As he prepared to go back to Taiwan, Father Louis J. Luzbetak SVD, Divine Word College president at the time, asked him to teach Asian studies and linguistics at the college in Epworth, Iowa.

The Society of the Divine Word General Council in Rome approved a temporary three-year assignment to Epworth "with a heavy heart" because they wished him to use his unique language and administrative skills in Taiwan. Those three years turned into eight. As a professor of linguistics and Chinese and Asian studies, Brother Pat recognized an opportunity to extend the college’s mission.

In 1975 shortly after the fall of Saigon, he developed the school’s English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) program, focusing on methods for helping Vietnamese immigrants who knew little or no English to learn the language. His efforts led to an increase in vocations and eventually resulted in 75 ordinations and several brothers professing perpetual vows.

Despite the General Council’s concerns that Brother Pat might lose his language skills, he remained fluent in Chinese. In 1981, his work came to the attention of officials in the People’s Republic of China when he wrote a newspaper commentary about the government’s educational reforms. In the piece, he proposed better methods of teaching written Chinese.

In response, they invited Brother Pat to lead a 25-day, nine-city educational tour of China to foster goodwill. Passages, China’s official travel agent in the United States, awarded the Advisor of the Year to him.

In 1983, the leaders in Rome finally saw their plan fulfilled. Brother Pat returned to Fu Jen University. He taught linguistics and English as a foreign language and served as director of Fu Jen’s Language Center. In total, he taught at the university for 25 years. During that time, the university grew substantially.

In the 1960s when the Divine Word Missionaries re-established Fu Jen University, school administrators hoped to attract as many as 5,000 students; by the time Brother Pat was reassigned to the United States in 1999, the university’s enrollment had grown to 22,000.

While in academia, he received two fellowships from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. He also served as director of the Summer Language Institute, a program for international high school students to study the English language and American culture, at Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley, Calif.

Along with his academic accomplishments, Brother Pat was recognized as a leader within the Society of the Divine Word. In 1977, the superior general and his counselors selected Brother Pat as one of 18 missionaries worldwide for a commission to study the dynamic and changing role of brothers.

After retiring from Fu Jen University, he was director of Divine Word International Conference and Retreat Center at Techny, Ill. He transferred to Bordentown, N.J., in 2004, where he served as rector, and moved to Techny in 2015 in order to receive advanced medical care. The Board of Directors of Fu Jen University Foundation named him an honorary member of the board in 2015.

Brother Pat is survived by nieces, nephews and thousands of Divine Word confreres. A visitation will take place at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit in Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center on June 14 from 3 to 7 p.m., followed by a wake service. His funeral Mass will be in the chapel on June 15 at 9:30 a.m. with burial in St. Mary Cemetery at Techny. Techny Towers is located at 2001 Waukegan Rd., Techny (Northbrook), Ill.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in the name of Brother Pat can be made for the care of elderly and infirm missionaries and may be sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Road, P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.

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