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November 2012
Issue No. 285

Installation of The Very Reverend Canon Matthias Der

The Very Reverend Canon Matthias Der, new Dean of St. John’s Cathedral, demonstrated the uniqueness – multiculturalism and ecumenism in serving God – of the cathedral in his inauguration sermon at the Installation Service on 13th October 2012 by thanking the cathedral’s congregations in Tagalog, Putunghua, Cantonese and English and calling on them to be the body of Christ in today''s world and to do so with humility to be a great team for God''s mission. 

The Installation Service and the thanksgiving dinner were attended by friends and relatives of the new Dean and congregation members from the Parish of St. Christopher’s in Toronto, Canada.  

Together with his father, the Revd Canon Edmund Der, and his younger brother, the Revd Philip Der, the new Dean administered Holy Communion at the service.  It was a special moment to see the Der Family as life witnesses to God’s grace and tremendous love.  

Prior to the service, different choirs – the children’s choir, Putongua choir, and Tagalog Fellowship choir of the cathedral – had a special musical programme.  The service began officially with the processional filing into the cathedral to the hymn, “Lift high the Cross.”  

The Revd Canon Matthias was presented and recommended to Archbishop Paul Kwong by Dora Li, Laurie Lai and Benita Pong, representatives of St. Christopher’s, Toronto, while St. John’s Cathedral Trustees, Martin Matsui and Ronald Lye, asked him to be instituted in the cathedral’s ministry.

After the Revd Canon Matthias made the Declaration of Assent and Oath of Canonical Obedience, he kneeled before the Archbishop who instituted him by handing him the Licence.  Symbols of ministry were then brought by members of the Cathedral Parish.  The Archbishop and the Revd Canon Matthias moved to the Dean’s stall where the Archbishop blessed the new Dean whom was then acknowledged and welcomed by the Trustees on behalf of the people of St. John’s Cathedral.

In his sermon, the Dean said that the Installation Service was a very special moment for him and his family.  Eternally grateful for the good wishes and prayers of people whom he had recently met in Hong Kong, the Very Revd Canon Matthia expressed his feelings of being tremendously blessed, and thanked Archbishop Paul and the cathedral’s Board of Patronage for the trust they had entrusted in him.

He described his life as a wonderful journey: “For someone who could not speak clearly until the age of four, who struggled through school for most of his early schooling and who didn''t learn the ABCs till the age of 12, this person has now been given such a responsibility in the church. For such an ordinary person to be called by the Lord to the priesthood and, now, to serve as the dean of a cathedral, I am amazed by God’s work.  Without God''s empowerment and patience, without God sending many angels around me who encouraged, guided me and allowed me to learn from my mistakes all these years, I would not be standing here before you.”

“We are here because Jesus Christ, God incarnate, out of His gracious love, came, died on the cross and rose again on the third day,” the Dean said, “We are here because there is a Gospel of salvation to proclaim.  We are here because we believe in the risen Christ; believe in God calling both you and me in extending his kingdom of love, justice and peace through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Pointing to the beautiful stained glass window on the north transept which depicts Hong Kong’s development from a humble fishing village to a bustling commercial harbour, the new Dean noted that St. John''s has been here all these years, walking alongside with the people of Hong Kong throughout the changes.  He asked:  “Who are the people God is calling us to serve in 2012 and beyond?  Who are the captives – emotionally, physically and spiritually?  Who are the blind and the oppressed in our society today, in our work place, in these business high rises around us, in our homes and even in our church?  Where does God want us, St. John''s Cathedral family, to fly to?  How far do we go?  Together, we can go much further and higher for God.  Are you willing to be part of this?”  

The concluding part of the new Dean’s sermon was delivered in Tagalog, Putunghua, Cantonese and English, a multi-lingual thanks to his brothers and sisters in Christ:  “It is my great privilege to be walking with you. I pray for meaningful and fruitful ministries for many years to come.  We are God''s own people.  We are called to be the body of Christ in today''s world and with humility we can be a great team for God''s mission.  May God bless us all.  May God bless this great Cathedral of St. John''s.”

The Installation Service was attended by many, including overseas visitors from Jerusalem, Dublin and Canada.  Archbishop Paul believed that under the leadership of the new Dean, the cathedral will become a church of teaching, a church of sharing and a church of caring. 

Speaking at the thanksgiving dinner, the Very Revd Canon Matthias thanked all his colleagues at the cathedral for their hard work for the Installation Service and to their journey ahead.  He also thanked his family – he thanked his parents for caring and nurturing him; he thanked his wife for her unyielding support of his ministry.  He also thanked the brothers and sisters of St. Christopher’s of Toronto for travelling the distance to attend the service.

<The above article was published in "Echo" Issue No. 285. Please click here>


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