KOTA KINABALU – Archbishop John Wong, in his address during the anniversary dinner, recalled the response of Emeritus John Lee to serve God as His priest on 27 December 1964 at the old Sacred Heart Church, and later in 1987 as Bishop and in 2008 as Archbishop.
On the occasion of his golden jubilee, the prelate, on his own behalf as well as the faithful, thanked and praised God for the gift of Archbishop Emeritus John Lee, for his perseverance and faithfulness as a priest, for his love of God and of the Church, and for patiently and diligently guiding the local Church into what it is today.
The local Church in Sabah has much to be grateful to God for the far-sighted vision of the Emeritus for the Church when he initiated the move for better pastoral care to the people of God in this region with the establishment of the Keningau Diocese in 1993 and having its own Bishop and pastoral administration, and the establishment of the Sandakan Diocese with its own governance in 2007.
“You would agree with me, that for the past three decades, the Catholic Church in this region has been the most eventful and fruitful years of our journey as a local Church, with the increasing number of baptisms, priestly and religious vocations, growth in communities either among parishes or lay movements …. and I think this was partly because we have had a shepherd who constantly prayed for us before the Blessed Sacrament”, underlined Archbishop John Wong.
In acknowledging his own personal blessings of his priesthood through the acceptance, guidance and moulding of the Emeritus, he called on the people of God to glorify God for the gift of the priesthood of Emeritus John Lee, and to continue to pray for him for many more years of peaceful, joyful and healthy retirement.
Saluting the “giant”
Fr Wilfred Atin, chairperson of the organizing committee for the 50th sacerdotal anniversary of Arcbhishop Emeritus John Lee, in his welcoming speech hit the right note as he quoted Bernard of Charters, “We are but dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants” and English author and bishop of Chartres, John of Salisbury, “We can see more than they, and things at greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size”.
“I think it is not too much to say that Archbishop Emeritus John Lee is one such giant, particularly for the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu. That’s why we are gathered here this evening to salute this “giant”! said Fr Atin.