Religious Faiths

Traditional Chinese Beliefs

Well before Hong Kong became a city port, early settlers had built four temples on Hong Kong Island : the Tin Hau Temples in Stanley and Causeway Bay, Hung Shing Temple on Ap Lei Chau and Man Mo Temple in Sheung Wan. Two out of these four ancient temples are located in the Southern District.

The earliest residents of Hong Kong Island have their roots in Mainland China. These people brought traditional Chinese beliefs to their new island home. Earth God shrine is one example. These altars are commonly found across the territory. The Earth God shrine at the top of Pokfulam Village, for instance, is as antiquated as those found in New Territories walled villages. The Southern District has always been a fishing community. Leading a tough and hazardous life at sea with no assurance for good catch, fishermen find their anchor of hope in traditional deities. They worship them religiously to pray for safe voyages, good fortune and a better life. There are many temples in the Southern District and all of them enjoy great attendance, particularly on non sailing days. On the birthdays of gods and goddesses, the temples are packed with pilgrims carrying wine, cattle sacrifices, joss sticks and fruit for their annual thanksgiving.
Introduction of Western Faiths

Western religious faiths were introduced into Hong Kong in her very early years. It was in that period that Catholic churches first appeared in the Southern District. Fr. Feliciano acquired several civilian buildings in Stanley and converted them into a small church in 1845. It served the military officers stationed at Stanley Barracks and the growing community of Chinese Catholics. Later in 1850, Fr. Fenouil built St. Joseph's Chapel in Aberdeen to serve villagers from nearby Wong Chuk Hang and Shek Pai Wan.

In the early 20th century, the Baptist Convention initiated missionary work in Aberdeen and Ap Lei Chau. Soon the Hong Kong Harbour Mission's evangelical boat was launched. It offered literacy classes and organised worship activities for fishing families. Since then the Southern District has enjoyed religious diversity. Whilst the majority of fishermen are followers of traditional Chinese faiths, dedicated missionary work over the years has led to a growing number of Catholics and Christians.