If there is one person, apart from the Brother Superior General, who should be credited with getting the Brothers to come to Hong Kong, it is Father Timoleone Raimondi. This man of ardent zeal and boundless energy was determined to obtain the services of the Christian Brothers to look after the education of Catholic boys in Hong Kong.
For many years Father Raimondi pestered and peppered the Brother Superior General, Brother Philip, with requests. Despite many refusals, Father Raimondi would not take no for an answer. His persistence eventually paid off when, just before his death, Brother Philip promised to do his utmost to send a few Brothers to Hong Kong. They were to help the Diocese to manage St. Saviour’s College and St. Louis Orphanage.
And so, on the 7th November 1875, there landed in Hong Kong the six pioneers who formed the first Community of the Christian Brother Schools. Brothers Hidulphe Marie, Hidulphe de Jesus, and Hebertus who were from the Boarding school of Marseilles; Brothers Adrian Canny and Aldolphus Doyle who were Irish and came from the Novitiate of London; Brother Isfrid from Paris. The Brothers found no time to relax because they were asked to take charge of the St. Louis Orphanage and the English section of St. Saviour’s College on the very next day, 8th November 1875. They renamed St. Saviour’s College as St. Joseph’s College, honouring the patron of their Institute.
At the arrival of the Brothers, 75 boys were attending English classes and were accommodated in 4 rooms in Pottinger Street. After a few weeks the enrolment had doubled and it became evident that larger premises were needed. In June 1876 Mgr. Raimondi purchased a fine house situated at No. 9 Caine Road and the Brothers at once moved into it. In January, 1878, a class for Chinese boys who desired to learn English conversation and correspondence was opened. In just five years, the number of students had increased from 75 to 281. The premises in Caine Road was now not large enough to satisfy the constant demands for admission.
By 1881, there were more than 300 boys on the roll at Caine Road. Bishop Raimondi again came to the rescue buying a new property in Glenealy, a majestic building overlooking the Cathedral. The school soon became a landmark on Hong Kong Island. The Brothers finally had a campus which could accommodate the demand. However, a rare earthquake in 1918 damaged the grand school building necessitating another change of campus.
In 1914, Brother Aimar Sauron had arrived in Hong Kong. He was a great administrator of remarkable foresight and organising ability. Immediately after the 1918 earthquake, he bought the site of the Old Germania Club where St. Joseph’s College stands to this day. Noting that pupils living on the Kowloon side had to cross by double-trip ferry every day, he set up a school in Chatham Road, Kowloon (St. Joseph’s College Branch School).
When Brother Aimar opened La Salle College, in 1932, St. Joseph’s Branch was the basis of the student body of the new school. The new school became a landmark in Kowloon, not least because of its majestic dome under which was a beautiful chapel. Brother Aimar brought the new school to an admirable height of intellectual activity, discipline and prestige right from its first years. It continues to be held in high esteem by the public.