Catchik Paul Chater

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Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia & New Zealand
10 Macquarie Street
Chatswood NSW 2067
Contact: Laura Artinian
Tel: (02) 9419-8056
Fax: (02) 9904-8446

7 June 2005


Sydney, Australia - With the fatherly blessing of His Holiness Karekin II Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, the Armenian Church Committee of Calcutta, headed by Mrs Sonia John, organised a week of events from 26 May-1 June to honour the memory of Sir Catchik Paul Chater, an Indian-born Armenian, considered to be one of the founding fathers of Hong Kong having made a major contribution to its development in the 19th and early 20th century. A group of some 100 pilgrims including about 30 of Chater's descendants from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia, as well as a number of distinguished guests attended the pilgrimage that coincided with the centenary anniversary of St Andrew's Church in Kowloon constructed with a large donation installed by Sir Catchik.

Among the invited guest list was His Eminence Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia and New Zealand; His Grace Bishop Yesraz Nersessian, Primtate of the Diocese of Russia; Dr Richard Hovannisian, Dr Kevork Bardakjian and Dr Peter Cowe from the United States.

The week-long activities commenced with Holy Mass on Friday, 27 May, 2005 presided by His Eminence Archbishop Baliozian and accompanied by His Grace Bishop Nersessian. Sixteen students from the Armenian College & Philanthropic Academy Church Choir in Calcutta partook in the church service that was followed by a memorial luncheon. The congregation later proceeded to the Happy Valley Cemetery on Hong Kong Island for the blessing of Sir Catchik's grave.

On the following day, a seminar was held at Kimberley Hotel where international and local guest speakers including Archbishop Aghan Baliozian addressed the pilgrims on various topics relating to Sir Catchik Paul Chater's life and his spirit of philanthropy. Later that same afternoon, there was an open discussion with the panellists and a presentation of a film on the life of Sir Catchik Paul Chater produced by Henrik Terchonian, a former student of the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy and Awardee of the Sir Catchik Paul Chater.

On the morning of 29 May, there was opportunity for guests and pilgrims to meet the descendants of the Chater family. In the afternoon, Mrs Sonia John addressed the pilgrims on the Armenians of India organised by the Royal Asiatic Society.

The activities over the week incorporated tours of Hong Kong city to view places of Sir Chater's interests; a cultural performance by the 'Nane' dance ensemble from Armenia and students of the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy in Calcutta; the launching of Liz Chater's biography on Sir Catchik Paul Chater entitled "A Prominent Armenian From Calcutta and the Grand Old Man of Hong Kong" and Henrik Terchonian's book entitled "Life & Times of Sir Catchik Paul Chater"; and a banquet dinner that concluded the commemorative event.

Ms Liz Chater who compiled the genealogical history of the Chater family was instrumental in gathering the descendants from around the globe for this auspicious occasion. Also actively involved in the local organisation of the memorial events were long time residents Mr and Mrs Jack and Julie Maxian.

Also present among the pilgrims were Principals and student representatives from La Martiniere School in Calcutta, Sir Catchik Chater's alma mater. When the School was facing financial crisis and the prospect of shutting down, Sir Chatchik provided financial assistance to keep the School afloat. To this day, the students remember their benefactor in the daily School Prayer.

Sir Catchik Paul Chater's legacy in Hong Kong is well documented however it is his connection with the Armenian Community of Calcutta, India that initiated this tribute. Sir Catchik bequeathed a considerable sum of money in his will to the Armenian Church in Calcutta, a legacy that continues to help maintain the upkeep of numerous Armenian institutions and facilities in India today.

Sir Catchik Paul Chater (1846-1926) was revered in a manner befitting his greatness in the pilgrimage that was entitled "Magnificent Man of All Seasons".

Most of us probably wouldn't think of spending a day off looking at graves, but a local historian turned Hong Kong Cemetery in Happy Valley into a history museum Sunday, attracting dozens of visitors who came to learn about their city by visiting the dead.

Long known as the Colonial Cemetery, the burial ground _ opened by the British in 1844 _ overlooks Happy Valley Race Track and was the final resting place for generations of Hong Kong expatriates and prominent Chinese Christians.

Beneath a white marble grave lies one of the most famous names in Hong Kong _ Catchick Paul Chater, a wealthy Armenian trader, for whom Chater Garden is named and whose first name and last name both grace local streets. A major landowner, Chater was an early and successful advocate of harbor reclamation, a legislator and an executive councillor.