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KOTA KINABALU (CS) – “Te Deum laudamus” rendered as “Thee, O God, we praise” – an early Christian hymn of praise – fittingly chosen and led by Archbishop Emeritus John Lee in singing thanksgiving to God for his 50 years of priestly service towards the end of his Thanksgiving Mass coinciding with the Feast of the Holy Family at Sacred Heart Cathedral on 27 Dec 2014.
The presence of his brother archbishops, bishops and clergy from the region of Malaysia and Brunei, family members and a thousand of the faithful at the thanksgiving Eucharist, which was presided by the prelate himself and concelebrated by the bishops present, have gladdened his heart and made his day. “I am very happy that so many bishops and clergy who celebrated with me at Mass have made my day. I thank God for ordaining me a priest and have persevered for 50 years,” enthused the Emeritus.
Present for the auspicious occasion were Archbishop Julian Leow, Archbishop Emeritii Murphy Pakiam and Soter Fernandez (seminary classmate), all of Kuala Lumpur, Bishop Cornelius Sim of Brunei Darussalam, Bishop Richard Ng of Miri, Bishop Cornelius Piong of Keningau, Bishop Julius Gitom of Sandakan, and Archbishop John Wong. Clergy from outside the archdiocese included Fr Lawrence Chua (seminary classmate) from Kuching, Fr Moses Lui from Johor, and Fr Samuel Lim from Singapore.
In delivering his homily for the double celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family and thanksgiving for the Emeritus, Archbishop John Wong underlined that the Church celebrates the Holy Family as the model family who fear the Lord and who walk in His ways. The Church calls it holy and a model family because it constantly listened, accepted, obeyed, fulfilled and lived the Word of God in their life as a family. And as Mary and Joseph, listened, accepted, obeyed, fulfilled and lived the Word of God, their lives were changed and transformed.
As Jesus listened, accepted, obeyed, fulfilled and lived the Word of God, God’s favor rested on Him. As “Savior born for us” He transformed the lives of many who accepted His coming.
The prelate implored the faithful that we too must strive after the model Holy Family by acceptance of the coming of the Son of God and allowing Him to change and transform us through listening, accepting, obeying, fulfilling and living the Word of God.
On the celebration of the Archbishop Emeritus John Lee’s 50th sacerdotal anniversary, Archbishop John Wong gave thanks to God for His blessing and favor have rested on the Emeritus, which has changed and transformed him to be the herald of the Good News, because he is one who has listened, accepted, obeyed, and lived the Word of God in his 50 years of priestly service.
A dinner celebration followed at a popular restaurant, which was filled to capacity of more than a hundred tables.
The prancing unicorns by members of the Lee family preceded the Emeritus as he walked in, hand in hand with a grandnephew on each side of him. The impressive participation in the unicorn performance on stage and the rendition of Hakka hill song by 9-year old grandniece Serena Lee, and another Hakka hill song by 6-year old grandnephew Theodore Lee to communicate messages to their granduncle the Emeritus, set off a promising night of lively and enjoyable entertainment. Children from the primary schools of St James and Shan Tao and the parish community of the Light of Jesus Christ Covenant Community enthralled the appreciative crowd as well. The evening’s entertainment concluded with the seminarians and aspirants taking everyone to the floor with their rhythmic feet-tapping Jamilah dance.
The Emeritus in his address (see separate article) left a legacy of his thoughts and desires, particularly to the young priests of the archdiocese. This was followed by his surprise gift of rosary beads to each guest, which was blessed by him on stage immediately after his address.