CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Farewell to French missionary

HONG KONG (SE): Paris Foreign Mission (MEP) priest, Father Sylvain Rabiller, former assistant parish priest at St. Joseph’s Church, Garden Road, died in France at the age of 74 from liver cancer.

He had worked in Hong Kong for 22 years before retiring to his native France in the summer of 2010 

Father Rabiller was born on
7 October 1937 in St. Christophe du Ligneron, in the diocese of Luçon, Vendée province, in the west of France. He was the second child in a family of two boys and two girls. 

He was ordained a priest for the MEP in 1964 and was sent to Mysore, Karnataka, and Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, in India, where he worked until 1988.

He then came to Hong Kong to work for the congregation’s news agency, Eglise d’Asie, until its offices closed in 2001 and he was appointed chaplain to the French-speaking Catholic community. 

He also became involved in helping the Filipino migrant community and was appointed to the Diocesan Commission for Pastoral Services for Filipino Migrants in 1997 and was also spiritual adviser to different groups. 

In 2001 he was appointed assistant parish priest of St. Joseph’s church, Garden Road.

Suffering from bad knees and increased difficulty walking, Father Rabiller returned to France on 15 August 2010. He stayed at the MEP motherhouse in Paris where he helped with the archives.

On 14 December 2011, he was admitted to hospital for digestive problems, but was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer. His health deteriorated rapidly and he entered hospice care on January 3 where he died on January 7.

He told Mabuhay in 2010 that his own family was strongly Catholic. His brother is a priest and his two sisters both entered the religious life. “I wanted to be a priest when I was in secondary school,” he reminisced. “After a bit of discernment, I was eager to be a missionary. I later chose to go to Asia, because I loved Asia,” he explained (Mabuhay, 29 August 2010).

There will be a memorial service at St. Joseph’s church on Sunday, January 15, at 6.00pm. May he rest in peace.

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