CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 March 2019

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Thousands mourn late bishop

HONG KONG (SE): Over 3,000 people gathered at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception for the wake and vigil Mass for the late Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung on January 10 and the next morning, nearly 2,000 came to pay their respects at the funeral Mass.
 
At 4.40pm on January 10, over 200 people, including religious people, staff of Catholic organisations, family and friends of the Bishop Yeung gathered at the entrance of the cathedral for the Reception of the Body, officiated by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, in which he prayed that the soul of the bishop be received into eternal life. The coffin was then solemnly borne by members of the clergy who processed into the cathedral, followed by Bishop Yeung’s family. The remains of the bishop then lay in state, in full Mass vestments with his head closest to the altar, for visitation and viewing.
 
The 8.00pm vigil Mass was concelebrated by Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, former bishop of Hong Kong, and by John Cardinal Tong Hon, now the apostolic administrator of Hong Kong, Bishop Ha; along with Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-sang of Macau, Monsignor Ante Jozic, the Vatican representative in Hong Kong, and over 100 priests of the diocese.
 
Representatives of other Christian denominations, including leaders of the Orthodox Church as well as the Protestant Churches, were also present, as were top government officials.
 
The Mass began with a Ceremony of the Light in which celebrants lit six candles around the coffin with flame taken from the Paschal Candle, representing Resurrection and prayed that Christ could show his eternal light to the bishop.
 
The homily was given by vicar general, Father Dominic Chan Chi-ming, who had known Bishop Yeung for more than 45 years from their time together at the Holy Spirit Seminary. 
 
Father Chan recalled that they played football together and that Bishop Yeung, as the goalkeeper, never gave up even though he was often struck by the ball. He noted that this perseverance was fully demonstrated as he became a priest and later, a bishop. 
 
He said the bishop stood on principles of the faith, even when other people might misunderstand and insisted on helping the needy not even allowing illness to impede him. 
 
Father Chan also recalled that prayer was important for the bishop, who shared with the newly-baptised that he prayed for four hours every day, waking up at 4.00am to pray and study the Bible. 
 
In the hospital on January 3, the bishop used all his strength to raise his hand to make the sign of the cross as Father Chan and other priests gathered around the bishop’s sickbed and tried to encourage him to pray together with them.
 
He said the bishop knew that he did not need to do a great job, but he had to be a faithful servant of God and glorify him even amid trials.
 
Father Chan also reminded the congregation that in his last homily on Christmas Eve at the cathedral, the bishop encouraged people to care for the needy.
 
People coming to the vigil filled the cathedral, the auditorium of the Catholic Diocese Centre as well as the parish hall.
 
The funeral Mass started the next day at 10.00am and was concelebrated by Cardinal Tong, Cardinal Zen, Bishop Ha, Bishop Philip Huang Jaw-ming of Caritas Taiwan, Bishop Lee Monsignor Jozic, along with over 100 priests of the diocese.
 
The heads of other Christian denominations were present, including Metropolitan Nektarios of the Orthodox Church, Anglican Archbishop Paul Kwong, as well as representatives of different faiths.
 
Hong Kong government officials who came to pay their respects included chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor; financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, as well as other government officials.
During the homily, Bishop Ha recalled that the bishop was a nice teacher and he would never forget his preaching lessons from 30 years ago in which he encouraged seminarians to think of interesting ways to explain God’s words.
 
He said after being ordained a bishop together with Bishop Yeung and Bishop Lee more than four years ago, Bishop Yeung was like a good elder brother to him, showed concern and gave helpful hints from time to time.
 
Bishop Ha said he was impressed by Bishop Yeung’s concern for the needy and his determination to face challenges. At the same time, he was also aware of Bishop Yeung’s difficulties as he was often misunderstood when he tried to express his views on social issues. 
 
He said Bishop Yeung worked hard to respond to his vocation and prayed that God grant eternal rest to his soul.
 
During the two Masses, Monsignor Jozic and Father Lawrence Lee Len, the diocesan chancellor, read out a letter—in English and Cantonese—sent by Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, on behalf of Pope Francis on January 5, conveying his personal sadness and condolences to the clergy, religious and lay people in Hong Kong, his thankfulness for Bishop Yeung’s years of priestly and episcopal ministry, and imparting his apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Risen Lord.
 
Karen Wu Yick-kwan, a niece of the bishop, shared her personal reflections on her uncle’s life at the end of both the vigil and funeral Masses.
 
Bishop Yeung was buried at St. Michael’s Catholic Cemetery in Happy Valley, with Bishop Ha celebrating the burial rites.

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