CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 24 August 2019

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Cardinal Tong turns 80

HONG KONG (SE): John Cardinal Tong Hon, the apostolic administrator and bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, celebrated his 80th birthday on July 31.  The diocese organised a prayer gathering and birthday dinner for him at the Holy Spirit Study Centre on July 29. Over 80 priests of the diocese and representatives from religious institutes joined in the celebrations. 
 
At the beginning of vespers, held at the Holy Spirit Seminary, Cardinal Tong made a short sharing in English and offered prayers for peace in Hong Kong. Refering to the escalation of unrest in society, he recalled the difficult times under John Cardinal Baptist Wu before the handover of Hong Kong to China by the British in 1997 and the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003. He expressed optimism that just as the people of Hong Kong overcame such moments of struggle in the past they would do it again. 
 
During dinner, the cardinal shared a prepared message both in English and Chinese. Cardinal Tong’s family members, Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun and Monsignor Javier Herrera-Corona, the head of the Holy See Study Mission in Hong Kong, also joined in the celebrations. 
 
The cardinal gave a rosary to all present at the dinner. 
 
Cardinal Tong was born in Hong Kong on 31 July 1939. During the Japanese invasion, his family moved to Macau. There, he entered St. Joseph Seminary in 1951 and was ordained priest in Rome on 6 January 1966. In 1979, Bishop Wu appointed then-Father Tong to head the newly-created diocesan Holy Spirit Study Centre. 
 
In 1992 Bishop Wu gave him additional responsibility as one of the vicars general of the diocese, an office he held for 17 years.  Pope John Paul II appointed him an auxiliary bishop in 1996. 
 
Pope Benedict XVI appointed him coadjutor bishop of Hong Kong on 30 January 2008. He was installed as bishop of Hong Kong on 15 April 2009 and headed the diocese until his retirement in July 2017. On 18 February 2012 Pope Benedict XVI created him a cardinal. After the announcement of the nomination on 9 January 2012, Bishop Tong told the Sunday Examiner that he considered himself both “unworthy and privileged.” He is the seventh Chinese cardinal in the history of the Church.
 
Cardinal Tong retired as the bishop of Hong Kong in July 2017 and was succeeded by Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung. However, with the sudden death of Bishop Yeung in January 2019, the cardinal was appointed apostolic administrator. 

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