CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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New bishop for Hong Kong

The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Hong Kong of Cardinal John Tong Hon. He is to be succeeded by Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung...            
(Vatican announcement August 1 at 6.00pm Hong Kong time)

HONG KONG (SE): The Vatican announced on August 1 that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the bishop of Hong Kong, John Cardinal Tong Hon, and his tenure as bishop was to conclude on the same day.
Consequently, the coadjutor of the diocese, Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, automatically became the bishop as from the time of the announcement.
When he was informed that he had been chosen as an auxiliary bishop in 2014, Bishop Yeung confessed to feeling overwhelmed at the prospect, as no one knows the road ahead and no one knows what will develop, so his prayer was that his response to the unknown would come with adequate wisdom.
Bishop Yeung was born in Shanghai, but at the age of four fled the violence and uncertainties of 1949 on the mainland with his family, arriving in Hong Kong in 1949.
At a Mass celebrated for a predominately Indonesian and Filipino congregation of migrant workers on July 16, he reflected that all migration has a purpose and while the challenges may not be the ones of our own choice, they must be met and treated as opportunities to learn and develop.
While his appointment as bishop of Hong Kong may not be a challenge that he would have set for himself, nevertheless, he realises it must be met and, as a leader of a community, he can only succeed with prayer and the prayer of the whole community behind him.
Bishop Yeung was ordained a priest from Holy Spirit College Seminary in Aberdeen on 10 June 1978 for the diocese of Hong Kong and cut his teeth as a young priest in a parish with well-known Maryknoll Father Ray Nobiletti in Ha Kwai Chung in the New Territories.
These were heady days, caught up in the whirlwind of the creation of new towns and sudden influxes of population. There was the challenge of organising, building responding to social needs and establishing new communities, both exciting stuff and solid experience as a base of a life of offering pastoral care.
It proved good experience for the young priest who was to become better known in the diocese both as an educationist and as the chief executive of Caritas.
But he sees the need for deep faith as a basis for education, saying at one point of his life, “The harsh reality constrains us and we tend to give religious faith a low priority. This happens because no one awakens the intrinsic values deep in our hearts.”
This is the very challenge that Bishop Yeung is taking on as the chief pastor of the diocese of Hong Kong, but he believes it can be done, despite a tendency to inflexibility within a Church that is slow to change its ways, as it is the ability to ascertain with appreciation and understanding of a reality that heralds the way forward.
Bishop Yeung brings a degree of educational pedigree to the job, with a master’s in education from Harvard and one in arts from Syracuse in the United States of America, as well as a primary degree in theology from the Pontifical Urban University in Rome.
In addition he was made a Doctor of the University by the Australian Catholic University and doctor of social science by the Open University of Hong Kong in recognition of his work in the social services field.
At his episcopal ordination, he recalled Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, “Arise and go forth,” the words of the motto he chose for his coat of arms, which he said gives a sense of being called into a new ministry and a different type of service.
He stressed that it can only be through the dedicated witness to the faith of the people of Hong Kong that the Church community has flourished.
He then quoted St. Augustine as saying, “For you I am a bishop, but with you I am, after all, a Christian. The former signifies an office undertaken, the later grace; the former is a name for danger, but the latter a name for salvation.”
Cardinal Tong steps down after eight years as the bishop of Hong Kong. At 78-years-of-age he is well past the usual retirement age of 75, but when he tendered his resignation at the time, he was asked to stay on for a further period of three years.
They have been eventful years, offering some difficult challenges for a bishop in the areas of politics, education and social change in Hong Kong.
But as he stepped down on his 78th birthday, it was an appropriate time to thank him for the fidelity he brought to his job and the love that he had lavished on his people, as well of course, to wish him a happy birthday.

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