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New deacon gives big thanks to God
HONG KONG (SE): Francis Mahilum, from the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (cicm), said at his ordination to the diaconate in Star of the Sea church in Chai Wan on February 18 that he believes a vocation is a big gift from God.
Reverend Mahilum was ordained a deacon by John Cardinal Tong Hon. The Asia vice-provincial superior of cicm, Father Anthony Lim; the superior, Father Jean Sylvere Mbuela Pfuti; Reverend Mahilum’s mentor, Father Patrick Masschelein; and his spiritual director, Father Jay Flandez, together with Father Stephen Ip Ting-kwok, the parish priest of St. Lawrence in Kowloon where he was stationed during his pastoral exposure were also present.
Reverend Mahilum has been appointed to remain at the same parish during his diaconate until he is ordained a priest.
Father Pfuti recommended him for ordination to Cardinal Tong, who then laid hands on him and presented him with the book of the gospels.
Father Pfuti and his elder brother then vested him with the stole of the deacon, before he exchanged a warm sign of peace with the celebrants of the ordination Mass, as well as friends and well-wishers.
Father Pfuti expressed gratitude to God for the presence of the new deacon, joining the congregation in encouraging him in the usual manner. He told those present that the cicm has been serving the people of God for the past 60 years in Hong Kong and in addition, he offered his thanks for the support it has received from the people.
There are around 800 members of the congregation scattered around the world at present.
Reverend Mahilum thanked the cardinal and the celebrants for their presence at his ordination and for their valuable support during his time of preparation.
He said it was a day filled with joy and happiness for him, as he reflects on his vocation and his mission to serve the people and become a big gift from God for them.
He added that he feels a gratitude in his heart that cannot be expressed in words, giving special thanks to his family for all their support.
He then extended his thanks to the over 300 people who attended the ceremony, including parishioners from St. Lawrence’s and Star of the Sea, as well as his classmates while he was studying Cantonese and the choir for its contribution to the day.
Maria Trinidad Villarino, the eldest sister of the new Filipino deacon, said she felt touched and happy throughout the ceremony.
She added she is looking forward to his ordination to the priesthood in Hong Kong in a few months’ time and especially the thanksgiving Mass he will celebrate in their hometown in Negros Occidental.
Thirty-eight-year-old Reverend Mahilum was born to a Catholic family. He is the youngest of 10 children.
He recalled that he began to discern his vocation when he was in secondary school, but it took some years before he finally said yes and took up the challenge to enter the seminary.
He set out as a postulant at the pre-novitiate formation house of the congregation’s Maryhurst Seminary in Baguio City.
He then studied philosophy at St. Louis University in Baguio City and did his theology course at the Maryhill School of Theology in Quezon City. He graduated with a master of arts degree in theology, majoring in pastoral ministry.
In 2014, he arrived in Hong Kong on August 27 and was later assigned to St. Lawrence’s where he worked on his Cantonese language while taking part in the everyday events of parish life.
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