CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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One winding road to priesthood

HONG KONG (AsiaNews): “The life of a priest has to be interesting. A good priest is someone who puts himself aside and approaches others. To revive vocations, this approach needs to be done with the youth,” Father Ignatius Lo King-ip said on August 20 after being ordained a priest by John Cardinal Tong Hon at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

The newly-ordained priest, who together with Reverend Paul Nguyen Kin-son was ordained for the diocese of Hong Kong by Cardinal Tong, called this a recipe for promoting vocations to the priesthood.

Father Lo’s story is a highly significant one, because in some ways it reflects the spirit of the times in Hong Kong, where religious education in the family is declining, as is attendance at Sunday Mass.

However, he says that despite this, the rampant materialism so evident in the city has failed to hold back the search for religious meaning.

“I started to get interested in the faith in college in 1997. I joined an Anglican congregation and was baptised in 1999, but for some time I also felt attracted by Catholicism,” he explained.

After reading a book on the life and mission of Mother Teresa, Father Lo began to feel a kind of call, which he describes as “someone telling me that I should become a priest, but I thought that the message must be wrong. I talked to my pastor and asked him to pray for me.”

Thanks to a Catholic friend, he said that he began attending some functions at a local Church and, in 2003, decided to enter the catechumenate. Then in 2004, he set out on the path that eventually led him to be received into the Catholic Church at Easter the following year.

“This change has not affected my vocation. I went to Mass every day and the sisters who cared for the Church began to ask me if I was looking for something,” he reminisced.

The sisters later presented him to the rector of the Holy Spirit Seminary College just one year after he had been received into the Church.

“At first, I thought I wanted to follow the Dominican or Franciscan charism, but God has chosen the diocesan path for me,” Father Lo explained.

However, he said that his family did not take his decision well.

“My parents and my two twin brothers, who are younger (than I am), are not Catholic. Especially my mother and father could not accept my becoming a priest, they believed that they would lose a son,” he said.

However, he pointed out that this slowly began to change over time and things started to improve.

“Their inability to understand my choice gradually passed to acceptance and today my father is proud of me and appreciates the missionaries who have left everything for the good of Hong Kong. I will try to always study, continue working with young people and trying to make them understand that God has a calling for everyone,” he said in describing his ambition for himself as a priest.

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