CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Death of Hong Kong-born Dominican mourned

MACAU (SE): Dominican Father Lionel Xavier died at Kiangwu Hospital, Macau, on October 19, following a short battle with cancer. He was 81-years-old and had been a member of the Order of Preachers for 56 years and a priest for 48.

Of Portuguese, Chinese and English descent, Father Xavier was born in Hong Kong on 3 July 1930. 

He worked in an accounting firm for some years and was a member of the Dominican Laity before joining the order as a novice at St. Albert’s Priory, where he made his profession on 28 July 1956.

He studied for the priesthood in Hong Kong, did further studies in Manila, The Philippines, and was ordained on 27 April 1963.

After ordination, Father Xavier returned to Hong Kong and obtained a degree in education from Hong Kong University. He then began teaching at Rosaryhill School in Stubbs Road, where he played a pivotal role in laying down its educational foundations and dedicated himself to being an educator, administrator and teacher of the young.

In 1966, he became the principal of all three sections of the school and, in 1967, was principal of the secondary, a position which he held until 1990.

He was also school supervisor for two terms; 1981 to 1984 and 1987 to 1990. Between 1993 and 1997, he again became a principal, but this time of the primary and kindergarten.

His spent some years as director of the Department of Religion, was active in chaplaincy work. He was the spiritual director of the Legion of Mary and the local chapters of the Dominican Laity.

As a member of the Serra Club, he was also deeply involved in the promotion of vocations to the priesthood in Hong Kong. 

Father Xavier was twice elected prior of St. Albert’s Priory (1981 to 1984 and 1993 to 1999). He also assumed various administrative posts in the community and was a councillor to the provincial, as well as being a member of the economic council.

Following his retirement from Rosaryhill School in 2004, he went to Macau, where he was appointed superior of St. Dominic’s House and director of the Religious Department at St. Paul School.

He also helped in the pastoral ministry and religious education of students at Escola São Paolo. He made many friends among the Portuguese expatriate community, as well as with local people.

When the vocations project he was working on materialised, he was put in charge of the formation team.

Always friendly and lovable, Father Xavier was respected and revered by the younger friars, not only because of his seniority, but also for his religious convictions and ideals.

A good companion, he was unassuming, yet put his heart and soul into everything he did. His life was indeed a testament to what he believed in.

Father Xavier enjoyed good health during his lifetime, but in August this year, shortly after returning from a family vacation in Canada, he felt a pain in his stomach and lower abdomen.

A checkup in Hong Kong revealed metastasised cancer. He returned to Macau to spend his last days there.

On October 18, he was admitted to Kiangwu Hospital. He rallied enough for the prior to celebrate the sacrament of the sick with him. He died at around 5.15am the next morning.

May he rest in peace!

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