CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Couple commissioned for mission in Cambodia

HONG KONG (SE): A married couple, Jonathan Yim Chi-ngai and Katherine Cheung Yu, were commissioned to go to Cambodia with the Hong Kong Catholic Lay Missionary Association by the bishop of Hong Kong, John Cardinal Tong Hon, at a Mass celebrated in the church of their parish of the Annunciation on June 12.

The couple signed a three-year contract with the lay mission association and are the first married couple ever to go on foreign mission under its auspices.

Cardinal Tong congratulated them on their decision, saying that as a couple they can be of mutual support in their service. He added that they can also be strong witnesses to the importance and value of marriage and family.

The cardinal encouraged people to pray for the missionaries and reminded them that everyone, by virtue of their baptism, has a God-given mission in life and is called upon to give witness to the presence of God in the world.

Jessica Ho Oi-chu, the chairperson of the association, recommended the couple to Cardinal Tong to be commissioned as lay missionaries. The two declared their willingness to become lay missionaries and promised to serve the people of Cambodia with love.

Cardinal Tong then accepted the recommendation, laid hands on them praying that they may be inspired by the Holy Spirit in their work and presented them with a mission cross.

He also encouraged them to be strong witnesses in their daily lives as the couple signed their contract.

Yim told the gathering that just nine years ago he went to Cambodia and that even at that time he knew that lay people could volunteer for overseas service as missionaries.

“Since then,” he said, “the term missionary often crossed the minds of my wife and myself. We understand that the work of a lay missionary is not limited to teaching catechism in parishes. We also need to mix around in order to witness to the love of God in the wider society.”

He recalled that the couple finally acknowledged their missionary vocation through their experience of involvement in their parish, as well as their contact with the lay missionary association.

He then thanked the priests in the parish for their contribution to their spiritual formation and for helping them understand and discern their newfound vocation more clearly.

In response, Ho said that she believes the couple will inspire other married couples or even families to go on mission together. She explained that overseas missionary work requires a prayerful attitude, as there are always lots of frustrations and obstacles. 

“While you are working as missionaries overseas, you can also participate in this mission through your prayer, financial and spiritual support,” Ho told the gathering of well-wishers.

The couple leave for Kampong Cham in Cambodia on July 9 and initially will be assigned to the formation centre of the association. 

Later they will receive an appointment from the local bishop either to a parish or some other apostolate.

She added that there are some Catholic people from Hong Kong living in the area and the newly-commissioned couple will also involve themselves in their community.

Ng Bik-yuk said that she gives her wholehearted support to her daughter in her decision to go with her husband, adding that she knows that she has always taken a deep interest in people in need and has served them with love and joy.

“I hope that they will be blessed with good health and are able to complete the undertaking that God has assigned to them,” she said.

The couple become the 14th and the 15th volunteers to be sent on overseas mission by the Hong Kong association. Currently, there are two people working overseas.

Margaret Pang Ka-yee, from Ha Kwai parish, has been in Cambodia since 2013 working as an occupational therapist at the Kampong Chhnang Centre for children with disabilities, and Stephania Ling Kwan-wai, from Happy Valley parish, who went to Calcutta to work with the Missionary of Charity sisters earlier in the same year.

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