Brother Lawrence Thoo Fook, SJ

Born: 26 September 1938, Penang, Malaysia
Entered: 02 December 1958, Cheung Chau, Hong Kong (HIB)
Final vows: 07 November 1971
Died: 22 February 2011, San José CA, USA – Californiae Province (CAL)

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966; HK to CAL

Malaysian-born and Christian Brother educated Brother Thoo was considering joining the Redemptorists, but his sister, a nun with the convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (IJ) who in his words “highly esteemed” the Jesuits, had other ideas. At a vocation retreat in 1957, she set him up to meet Father Étienne Cesbron-Lavau, SJ, who was stationed in Penang after being expelled from Vietnam. Under the priest’s influence, the 19-year-old Lawrence dropped out of high school and joined the Society as a Brother the following year.

After initial training in Singapore, he entered the St. Francis Xavier novitiate in Hong Kong on 2 December 1958 where for several years he was the only Brother (and ethnic Chinese) in the Hong Kong Mission.

Brother Wren, as he was called, was assigned to Kingsmead Hall from 1963 to 1964 where he served as sacristan and catechist, while doing a variety of domestic chores. From 1965. he went on to study and work in India, Hong Kong and the United States where he obtained a masters degree in education.

But it was in a Jesuit retreat house in California that he found great peace and happiness, working primarily as a sacristan and gardener, but also as buyer and general assistant to the Minister. He reflected, “I really love my work here at the retreat house. This is the kind of job I wanted to do when I became a Brother — working behind the scenes and with nature.”

Brother Wren died on 22 February 2011 in a hospital in San José, California following a heart attack. He was 72.
Book: 50 years of the parish of the Church of St Ignatius, 2012

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