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KUCHING – The Archdiocese of Kuching rejoiced as Archbishop Emeritus Peter Chung celebrated his 60th anniversary of priestly ordination with a solemn Thanksgiving Mass on the evening of 26 Sep. More than two thousand parishioners thronged St Joseph’s Cathedral to thank the Lord for the gift of their shepherd, pastor and friend.
The Mass, which Archbishop Emeritus Chung presided, was concelebrated with 13 archbishops and bishops and 44 priests from all over Malaysia. Also present were a group of six delegates from China, who were the jubilarian’s relatives, led by Fr Peter Liu Xijun.
In his homily, the prelate reflected on his vocation to the priesthood. He said he often wondered why he had never had any impression of his father until he met his aunt, Sr Teresa Chung (a Franciscan Sister), the only sister of his father, when he visited China 18 years ago.
When he was told that his father passed away before his birth, he was convinced that his vocation came to him directly from God and not from his family.
“This information, though shocking, did not upset me at that time, nor after. Instead it made me believe that God loves me so much that I was privileged to be chosen for the priesthood even before I was born,” he said.
Reflecting on the Gospel reading where Jesus entrusted his flock to St Peter (Jn 21:15-17), the prelate said he was curious why the Lord has entrusted to him such an important ministry despite his many weaknesses and shortcomings. Nevertheless, he firmly believed that “Jesus wants to use me as his servant”.
“[Jesus] assures me that he only wants me to be faithful to him, and with a generous heart I did what I could,” said the Archbishop Emeritus. “For the past 60 years, I have tried to be faithful and truthful to Jesus in my priestly life and ministry for the praise and glory of God.”
He urged the congregation to stay faithful to Christ. “Be faithful and courageous to do what your various duties demanded of you and do it with a generous heart,” he said.
“Jesus does not look at your talents, abilities and successes, nor your weaknesses and shortcomings. He only wants to see you are trying to be faithful to him and be responsible in all that you do,” the prelate encouraged.
After the homily, the Archbishop Emeritus recited the Creed alone as an act of renewal of his commitment to God.
Archbishop John Ha in his short speech at the end of the Mass, thanked Archbishop Emeritus Peter Chung for all he has done for the local Church. He said what matters most for the Archbishop Emeritus is the Church.
“In all that Archbishop Emeritus has done as a priest, bishop and archbishop, and is still doing now as a retired archbishop, he wants to build the community up and make room for everyone in the community to play a role.” This is clearly seen in the setting up of St Peter’s College by the Archbishop Emeritus to build up the local clergy and his effort to get the lay people involved in the life of the Church.
A Thanksgiving Dinner at Christian Ecumenical Worship Centre on 28 Sep ended the celebration. – Today’s Catholic
(Note: Abp Emeritus Peter Chung was ordained as Coadjutor Bishop of Kota Kinabalu on 15 Nov 1970, appointed as Apostolic Vicar of Kota Kinabalu on 1 Aug 1972, and installed as first Archbishop of Kuching on 26 Nov 1976.)