CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Jubilarians encouraged to live forward and pass on the mission

HONG KONG (SE): The Diocese of Hong Kong paid tribute to 49 priests and religious celebrating their 25th, 50th, 60th and 70th anniversaries of ordination or religious profession on December 7, a day before the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 
 
Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, together with his two predecessors John Cardinal Tong Hon and Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, along with around 70 priests of the diocese at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception. 
 
At the start of the Mass, representatives of jubilarians placed an offering of poinsettias, at the foot of the image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
 
Father Edward Yu Fook-min who celebrated his golden jubilee of priesthood, recalled during the Mass that he was baptised at the cathedral when he was 19-year-old so the altar gave him fond memories. He said it was important for religious people not to look at their achievements or failures of the past, but to be grateful to God for journeying with them and to follow the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary who humbly fulfilled the will of God.
 
Recalling his priestly ordination on the feast day of Ss. Peter and Paul in Rome 50 years ago, Father Yu said both saints had their failures and sufferings in life, which contributed to their spiritual growth. 
 
Father Yu said failure is a reason to be grateful if we can overcome them with determination as mentioned in the episcopal motto in the coat of arms of Bishop Yeung which says, “Arise, let us go forth from here!”(John 14:31)
 
He encouraged those present with a verse from the Psalms: “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy” (125:5-6). He added that it was an honour to give his testimony on the occasion, but that there were many other jubilarians who deserved the honour even more. 
 
He mentioned Salesian Father Lawrence Yao Wei-ming, who celebrated his golden jubilee and carried out his ministry in a wheelchair for decades. Father Yu said Father Yao’s homilies were touching, as his life is a life testimony of God’s love amid difficulties. 
 
Another example he cited was Father Giovanni Giampietro, from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions and a diamond jubilarian, who promoted different ways of evangelisation in the past decades and let the light of God shine before people.
 
De La Salle Brother Thomas Lavin, who shared in English, began by congratulating the jubilarians. He said every religious has critical moments in their vocation which requires determination and courage, as with the annunciation of Mary. 
 
He recalled that the De La Salle brothers of his primary school in west Ireland gave interesting talks about their vocation and that sowed the seed of his vocation. He finally joined the congregation at the age of 14.
 
He said his second “moment of annunciation” happened when he was 16-years-old and his superior asked whether he wanted to remain in Ireland or become a missionary in Hong Kong. He chose to be a missionary, which meant he had to leave his home country. 
 
Even though the jubilee celebration is an occasion for looking back, Brother Lavin encouraged the jubilarians to live forward and consider how their mission can be passed on to the next generations instead of falling into the temptation of staying in the past. He believes God will continue to call young men and women to join the consecrated life and urged those present to pray for vocations.
 
Speaking on behalf of the Central Council of Catholic Laity, Rosa Lai Yuk-fai thanked every jubilarian for their sacrifice, sharing the mercy of God and the good example they set of following Jesus Christ with perseverance.
 
During a tea reception held at Caritas Community Hall before the Mass, Bishop Yeung thanked the jubilarians for their sacrifices, which are a symbol of God’s love and have enabled the poor and the marginalised to lead a better life. He imparted blessings on them and said what they need most is the love of God.

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