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William Ng, M.A.R. 2005
University of Waterloo

My immediate plan after graduation is to return to my Franciscan community of Friars Minor in Hong Kong , assuming a new role as the Novice Director. One may wonder what connection there is between my studies of religion and the arts here at YDS for the past two years and this imminent formation ministry. Or, to put the question in a roundabout way: "What has New Haven to do with Assisi and Hong Kong ?" Although this appointment is a bit of a surprise, I do see how my studies at YDS / ISM are relevant to my life as a friar and as a facilitator for men learning to become friars.

For the past two years, I have been able to integrate my experiences as a Franciscan brother, a landscape architect and a high school teacher. Yale, with its particular historical links with China , has allowed me to gain access to valuable Chinese resources here on campus. I have been also fortunate to take courses at the School of Art , the History of Art Department, the School of Music and the School of Architecture . Franciscan history and themes have come up repeatedly in the investigation of religion and the arts. It is tremendously invigorating to be able to tap into the wealth of historical, international, ecumenical and multi-disciplinary resources, further developing insights and critical analysis.

As a formator for novices in religious life, I believe my YDS education is influential because Franciscan spirituality can be said to be a creative quest for human and natural beauty and harmony. Hence, my exploration of religion and the arts is tremendously relevant to the formation of new friars. I see that encountering the arts—either by making art or appreciating it—is a superb path of spirituality and Christian formation. This would have been impossible if I myself had not been transformed by the studies in religion and the arts at Yale in such an intensely intellectual and challenging environment.

In the future, I would very much like to continue my journey as a friar in a creative ministry both as a practitioner of making religious art and using it as a form of visual preaching, spiritual care giving, and religious and Christian formation.