Former Editor of the Catholic Standard, Harold Wong, dies


CATHOLIC Priest Harold Wong, who was the first Guyanese editor of the Catholic Standard Paper, died at the St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital last Friday as a result of complications caused by diabetes.
Wong, who went to the said hospital last Wednesday morning for his regular visit,
had been somewhat out-of-breath and was seen by Dr Searwar in the late morning.
The hospital managed to stabilise him but Wong was later placed in the High Dependency Unit – Kuru’s old room – onto a heart monitor.
Wong’s body has been pounded by diabetes and this has had knock-on effects on the rest of his body. The infections in his legs were always the main cause of concern, and in the last two years, he also was attacked by reverse diabetes when his sugar levels dropped alarmingly and sent him into a couple of near-miss comas.
This present attack, however, was neither of these. It was further encroachment by the diabetes but this time it was weakening the heart and this was having a domino-effect on the lungs.
Shortly before his death, Wong was quite clued-in but a little perplexed and puzzled as he had never had heart problems before.
Despite the insertion of the respirator, the rest of Wong’s body gave up and he was declared dead at 15.45 hrs. His body was then taken to Merriman’s Funeral home and the funeral date has not yet been decided upon.
Wong took over from Terence Petry as editor of the Catholic Standard in March 1967 and held that post until November 1973, a period of six years and seven months.
He had said that his mission as editor was “to change the character and image of the paper to reflect a more militant church’s concern for the people…. I was determined to ensure that while I was editor, the ‘Standard’ would not merely publish the usual religious news items but also demonstrate an awareness of the public issues of the day by analysing  and commenting with fairness and courage on those issues.” (Taken from a comment he made in one issue of the Catholic Standard)
This position brought him and the Catholic Standard into frequent and often explosive conflict with the Forbes Burnham dictatorship which was in power at the time.
Wong was a fairly good friend of the late Mrs. Janet Jagan who worked at the Mirror Newspaper at that time.
He was born in Georgetown on July 23, 1930, and was the son of Charles and Ethel. He attended the Sacred Heart School from 1936 to 1943, and was baptised at the Sacred Heart Church in 1945.
He studied Bookkeeping for two years at the Commercial Academy before going to England in 1949 to begin training as a priest.
He entered the Jesuits (officially called “The Society of Jesus”) in 1951 to continue this training, and following studies and spiritual formation in the United Kingdom, he was ordained as a Catholic priest in Heythrop College, Oxfordshire, England on July 31, 1963.
On his return to Guyana in 1966, he worked as a priest in Georgetown and also was given responsibility for media work.
He then was appointed as Administrator of the Brickdam Cathedral, a post he held until 1983, when he moved to Plaisance where he worked for the parish communities of the East Coast Demerara for three years.
In 1986, he was appointed as parish priest in Port Mourant and worked along the Corentyne coast until 1991 when ill-health from diabetes meant that he had to semi-retire to Georgetown.
He continued to play an important part in the life of the Jesuit community although, as the following 19 years passed, his decreasing mobility meant he had to withdraw gradually from active apostolic and sacramental ministry in the Georgetown parishes.
According to Dermot Preston SJ, Regional Superior, Society of Jesus in Guyana, Wong was a much-loved and sought-after counsellor and sustained strong contacts with his many friends and colleagues both in Guyana and across the world.