CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 12 May 2018

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Diocesan priest embarks on new missionary journey to Cambodia

HONG KONG (SE): Hong Kong’s first diocesan missionary priest, Father Paul Kam Po-wai, is embarking on another three-year mission on April 23, this time to Cambodia. He previously worked in Tanzania, in Africa, from 2003 to 2006.
 
A commissioning ceremony was held on April 15 at a packed St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Tsing Yi. 
 
Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-chueng, the bishop of Hong Kong, concelebrated the Mass with parish priest, Father Joseph Chan Wing-chiu; assistant parish priest, Father Issac Noh Hyunchul of the Korean Mission Society; Maryknoll Father Peter Latouf and other priests of the diocese. The Mass was attended by Father Kam’s family and friends, as well as many members of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish where he has been resident, along with members of the Diocesan Youth Commission and the Diocesan English Youth.
 
In his homily, Bishop Yeung spoke of the Church’s call to mission noting that the first disciples spread the gospel beyond Jerusalem, adding that the Church would not have grown had they not stepped out in faith. 
 
The bishop admitted that lots of prayer was needed before he accepted Father Kam’s application to go on mission as Hong Kong faces a shortage of priests.
 
However, Bishop Yeung said he finally decided that it was worthwhile as the Church in Hong Kong is one that reaches out. He also expressed his appreciation of Father Kam sharing of his experiences in Africa through Church media after his return; bringing new insights to the people of Hong Kong in different ways.
 
The bishop said going on mission in Cambodia will send a positive message—that the diocese is willing to help others having received so much support from missionaries from other countries.
 
He thanked Father Kam’s family for their sacrifice and expressed his understanding that they would miss him over the next three years. He added, however, that he believed God would manifest his blessings to them.
 
During the commissioning, Father Kam, who was ordained to the priesthood in 1998, shared on the importance of his family and of the great blessing to be called on mission. He spoke briefly about his experience on his first mission in Tanzania, how he has never forgotten it and has always wished to go on another. 
 
In fact, as he told the Sunday Examiner on April 16, he has revisited the country several times, in 2009, 2012 and earlier this year to meet with friends and help young people from Hong Kong become more familiar with the missionary work and culture there.
 
Father Kam recalled that, beginning in 2008, he would also bring young people to other missionary destinations such as Thailand, India and Mongolia. He feels that a missionary experience can lead young people consider their values and outlook on life more effectively than books or principles.
 
He expressed his deep gratitude towards Bishop Yeung for praying and discerning with him about the mission to Cambodia and for allowing him to go.
 
Father Kam recalled that the missionary spirit was enkindled in him when he was still a deacon doing pastoral training at St. Benedict parish, Shatin, then parish priest, Maryknoll Father John Ahearn, encouraged him to visit a village of people suffering from Hansen’s Disease (leprosy), in Jiangmen, Guangdong—an early Maryknoll mission area.
 
Father Kam told the Sunday Examiner that he chose Cambodia as his next mission destination because lay missionaries from Hong Kong have already laid down a foundation and there is much room for evangelising, as Catholics comprise only .15 per cent of the population.
 
He will be assigned to the apostolic prefecture of Kampang Cham, where he will study Khmer, the language of Cambodia, for at least a year before receiving his assignment from the local bishop 
 
Prior to his missionary journey to Tanzania in 2003, Father Kam told UCAN, “In the past and even until now, Hong Kong diocese has received a lot from foreign missionaries. It is time for us to contribute to the Church in need,” he said.

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