Fr. Arthur Lai Fook (5th Jul 1919- 19th Apr 2013)
Arthur Lai Fook was born on July 5th, 1919 in Penal, Trinidad but grew up in Port-of-Spain. He attended St. Mary’s College, where his love for mathematics started late in his school career. He won the Jerningham Gold Medal and an Open Scholarship in 1937 and, after a year of teaching at St. Mary’s, went to Paris where he completed his noviciate – a year of sustained observation and meditation that allows prospective priests to seriously consider their decision – and became a professed member of the Holy Ghost Congregation (better known as the Holy Ghost Fathers).
He went on to University College, Dublin in Ireland, where he gained his Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Mathematics and Mathematical Physics in 1942. The following year, he completed his Master of Science (MSc) in Mathematics. He achieved both degrees with first class honours. At the same university, he also obtained a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Mental and Moral Philosophy and a Higher Diploma in Education in 1944. He began theology studies in Dublin but completed his baccalaureate in sacred theology in Fribourg, Switzerland where he was ordained on July 20th, 1947.
After his return to Trinidad in 1948, Father Lai Fook taught at St. Mary’s College and was Junior Dean of Studies for a decade. Between 1962 and 1966, he lectured at the University of Nigeria and then at The University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine, Trinidad after which he returned to St. Mary’s College. He served as the college’s Principal from 1971 until 1978, when he officially retired.
Despite his retirement, Father Lai Fook continued to teach at St Mary’s College, first on a contract basis, then voluntarily until 2006. In 1990, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago awarded him the Chaconia Medal (Gold) for his contribution to education.
He died on 19th April 2013 at the age of 93.