CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 February 2019

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Mourning Bishop Yeung

Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung passed away on January 3 at the age of 73. The news was met with astonishment and deep grief.
 
Bishop Yeung had worked with Caritas-Hong Kong for many years when he was appointed vicar general in 2009. He was named one of three auxiliary bishops by Pope Francis in 2014, and was consecrated Bishop of Hong Kong in 2017.
 
Bishop Yeung was diocesan ordinary for a year and five months. Four months after assuming office, he declared a diocesan Year of Youth. He was happy to participate in many youth activities. He did not want this pastoral initiative to finish in the blink of an eye, so he decided to extend the Year of Youth to 2019. 
 
He was also concerned about the elderly and Hong Kong’s ageing society. In view of this, when he extended the Year of Youth, he formulated the theme, Practice. Belief. Youth. in the hope of deepening the faith of young people together with them bringing caring love to the elderly and the needy as a living witness of faith.
 
Bishop Yeung was also concerned about the Church’s social services and was a member of the Pontifical Council of Cor Unum. He showed great concern for low-income people and exhorted the local Church to serve the disadvantaged. 
 
His last public activity was midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. In his homily, he said that we should show concern for the Church in China because it suffers from persecution. He also reminded the faithful that in the pursuit of material needs, they should still care for the hearts of their neighbours and not remain indifferent to the needy.
 
The diocese has lost its bishop. As at the time of writing, the Holy See, through the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples appointed John Cardinal Tong Hong, the former bishop, to serve as apostolic administrator until the next Bishop of Hong Kong has been named.
 
Previously, Hong Kong diocese’s episcopal post was left vacant in 1974 when Bishop Peter Lei Wang-kei passed away. During that time, Father Gabriel Lam Cheuk-wai was elected vicar capitular (a post different from the diocesan administrator referred to in the revised Code of Canon Law of 1983). The episcopal see was vacant for nearly a year until Bishop John Baptist Wu Cheng-chung (later cardinal) succeeded as the Bishop of Hong Kong in 1975.
 
Cardinal Wu had served the Hong Kong diocese for over 20 years when in 1996, on the eve of the handover of Hong Kong, Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun was named coadjutor and Bishop John Tong Hon was named auxiliary. By the time Bishop Zen assumed the role of diocesan bishop, coadjutor bishops—who have the right of succession to the episcopal office—were also arranged before the sitting bishop retired. 
 
These arrangements have allowed the diocese to enjoy seamless transitions of episcopal authority for over 40 years. 
 
Thus, while we mourn the passing of Bishop Yeung, we pray for the diocese, too. In every circumstance the Lord is certainly always with us. SE