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November 2022
Issue No. 311
 

Deacons Francis Yu, Tim Cheung, and Ryan Cheung ordained as priests

  (© 教聲/ ECHO)

  (© 教聲/ ECHO)

An ordination service was held on 29th September at St John’s Cathedral, with the Primate of Hong Kong Andrew Chan celebrating and the Revd Francis Yu and the Revd Tim Cheung as candidates for the order of priesthood. The Revd Ryan Cheung was to be ordained on the same night, but unfortunately became a COVID close contact and had to be ordained a week after, on 6th October at St John’s Cathedral, with the Bishop Timothy Kwok as celebrant.

29th September marked the Feast of St Michael and All Angels. As the Very Revd Franklin Lee, the Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral mentioned in his sermon, there are numerous descriptions of angels within the bible: they are pure beings, and are messengers of God’s truth, beauty, and grace. He noted that there are many qualities that we as Christians can learn from angels.

And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. (Genesis 28:12) 

  (© 教聲/ ECHO)

The Dean of Holy Trinity continued by saying that the role of angels in the bible is to be the messengers of God to man. From this we can say that it is those who are closest to God, and thus closest to the source of truth, who can adequately proclaim the holy words of our Lord. With this, the Very Revd Lee encouraged the candidates the Revd Francis Yu and the Revd Tim Cheung to be like angels, and ‘ascend and descend on that ladder’, so that they could be the bridge between heaven and earth. ‘As priests, your primary mission is to encourage and lead our brothers and sisters in prayer for our world. The funny thing is that at the end of a day’s work, many priests find out that they haven’t got time themselves to pray!’ The Very Revd Lee stressed the importance of establishing a closer relationship with God, just like how the angels do.

‘It is likewise for the relationship between humans. If we want to know more about our children, friends, or our students, the only way achieving that is through communication and listening – there are no shortcuts! Whenever problems arise in communication, that is when relationships start to fall apart. If it is so with the relationships between human beings, how could it not also be so when it comes to our relationship with God? As shepherds of our flock, if we allow our relationship with God to fall apart, then all our work would be rendered null. When we encourage our brothers and sisters to pray, have we considered the situation of our own lives? Have we allotted time each day to listen to God? We as priests have to follow the example of angels, and pray for the church, for ourselves, and for all peoples. We have to bring the pain and suffering in this world to the front of our Lord through our prayers, and at the same time, bring our Lord’s salvation and grace to each believer and to all peoples on earth!’

Will you be diligent in prayer, in reading Holy Scripture, and in all studies that will deepen your faith and fit you to uphold the truth of the Gospel against error? (Liturgy of the Ordination of Priests, Examination of Ordinands by the Archbishop)

The Very Revd Lee continued his sermon by reminding the two candidates the importance of being good shepherds. He urged them to love the church, to love their brothers and sisters, to imitate Christ’s example in ‘serving others, and not to be served’, and to conquer fear and pain with love. He also stressed that ‘love’ and ‘peace’ are not mere words to spoken as if they are marketing slogans, for what a priest says must also match how he leads his life. As a priest, one must ask: Have I taken care of my flock? Have I taken the time to listen to them? Have I taken the time to take care of those around me? All these things are the visible marks of a priest, perceptible to all. Likewise, if a priest were to proclaim God’s holy word just as the angels do, then he must study the Bible in earnest. A priest must not read scripture for the sole purpose of preparing for a sermon, as Very Revd Lee remarks, ‘We must study the scripture for ourselves, and pray for the Holy Spirit’s presence and guidance. If all we do is fulfilling the technicalities of priestly work without trying to get closer to God via studying scripture, then slowly but surely a priest would find himself delivering boring sermons that bring down the whole congregation.’

The Very Revd Lee reminded the Revd Tim Cheung and the Revd Francis Yu to love the church and every person in the days ahead, that by love they should move, encourage, and teach the many, and bring the peace of our Lord to them. When loneliness and weariness pop their heads up during work, that is the signal to return to God and seek his guidance, because the ministry of a priest does not belong to him, but to the church as entrusted by God. ‘It is only by getting closer to God that we can go from strength to strength, from grace to grace, and make firm our church! Our human lives are full of distractions, with each leading us a step further away from God. As Christians, the most, most, and most important thing for us is to be closer to God, to pray devoutly, to study the scripture, and to love those around us!’

On 6th October was held another ordination service, and in a particular manner. It is customary for the HKSKH to hold ordinations during the afternoon or the evening, but as circumstances require, and to ensure the ordination of the Revd Ryan Cheung could go forward as soon as possible, this ordination was held in the morning, during the time when a provincial clergy meeting was originally scheduled.

As priests, it will be your task to proclaim by word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to fashion your life in accordance with its precepts. You are to love and serve the people among whom you work, care alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor. (Liturgy of the Ordination of Priests, the Archbishop declares to the Candidates their Duties)

  (© 教聲/ ECHO)

The Bishop of Hong Kong Island Matthias Der delivered the sermon on the day. In it, he encouraged the Revd Ryan Cheung to learn and adapt in face of change, just as his ordination was delayed a week due to COVID measures. ‘Things outside your expectations are bound to happen! We must learn to accept, to adapt, and to look towards God for the goodness hidden in the changes of our life.’ 

With Hong Kong being embroiled in years of discord, economic downturns, businesses closing down, emigration waves, and three years of COVID, the Bishop noted that many people are in a state of despair, fear, and distress. Many cannot guarantee they won’t fall on hard times, and it is the church’s duty to actively reach out to all peoples of God and offer them pastoral care. The Bishop referred to the reading on that day, taken from Romans 12:1-12, and urged the Revd Ryan Cheung to be a diligent pastor by strengthening the body of Christ; that is to say, the church. And as priests serve their ministry within this community that lives within the house of our Lord, no priest is an island entire of himself. Nor should any priest follow their own fancies, but rather serve arm in arm with other priests and all brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Bishop noted that St Paul’s message in the passage from Romans is reminder that we should make the effort to discover the gifts of God in each of those around us. We should love one another, and equip each of us to become disciples of God. We should work towards the growth in both numbers and quality for our church, and lead more into the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and into our family within the church.

Bishop Matthias continued by reminding the Deacon Ryan Cheung, ‘As a priest, you will inevitably face difficulties and challenges in your ministry, but you will also have the opportunity to witness the splendour of God. There will be times when you are lost and weary, but there will also be times when you will hear and see the overflowing love and encouragement from those around you! As servants of God and servants to the many, we priests lead a life of blessedness. May God bless you and make you a kind and loyal servant!’

With the ordination of deacon on 21st September and the ordination of priests on 29th September, the HKSKH has now conducted ordination services for three consecutive weeks. It is hardly surprising then that the Bishop Matthias mused in his sermon that this is a historic moment for the HKSKH, ‘May such moments continue, that more will come forward as willing servants of God!’

<The above article was published in "Echo" Issue No. 311. Please click here>

 

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