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shepherds-voiceA very good evening to all of you
dear brothers and sisters in Christ
and especially to our golden jubilarian, Archbishop Emeritus John Lee
Distinguished guests and visitors, members and friends of Catholic Women’s League
Ladies and Gentlemen

First  of all, I wish to thank the organisers, the Archdiocesan Catholic Women’s League, for their initiative to organise tonight’s dinner to celebrate the 50th sacerdotal anniversary of our beloved Archbishop Emeritus Datuk John Lee.

In a way, it is a reunion time for members of the Women’s League who have been working so hard and giving so much in helping the archdiocese to build up the local Church.  For so many years, the man behind them was none other than Archbishop Emeritus John Lee.  He has been their spiritual adviser, guiding the women in their apostolate.

So I guess when Emeritus John has reached  his 50th year as a priest, the Women’s League would not want to miss the chance to celebrate it in a big way.  That’s why we see so many of you tonight.

Dear friends, I do not know if you were here for the dinner on Dec 27 when the archdiocese celebrated the 50th sacerdotal anniversary of Emeritus John.

During that dinner, I invited all those present to join me to thank God for the gift of Emeritus John.  We thanked God for his faithfulness and commitment as a priest, and later, as a bishop.  We also thanked God that over the past 50 years, through his pastoral leadership, especially as a bishop, our diocese was able to grow steadily both in terms of baptisms and in the number of priestly and religious vocations.

According to the 2012 statistics, our archdiocese has around 200,000 Catholics ministered by 35 priests and 109 religious spreading over 17 parishes.

Since 1993 we have multiplied, from one diocese to three dioceses.  KK was elevated to a metropolitan see in 2008.  All these could be attributed to the far-sightedness of our Emeritus John.  Our dinner tonight, therefore, is a thanksgiving gathering for the gift of his priesthood.

Dear friends, personally I owe His Grace a lot in my vocation as a priest and later as his successor.  Though he is no longer actively involved in the affairs of the local Church, I always look upon him as my elder and my model in priestly life.

Tonight, as we sit around the tables to enjoy our meal, besides being entertained by the nice programme prepared by the Women’s League, maybe we can take time to share with one another our personal experience with Emeritus John.  I am sure many of you would have a lot of nice stories about him.  That will be a pleasant way to sum up his 50 years of priestly ministry.

Dear friends, after tonight’s celebration, we will need to move on and continue building our families and our local Church.  Many of you will ask if we have a direction as a diocese.  Many will also want to know where to start.

Indeed, since 1997, through the leadership of Emeritus John, our diocese launched the Diocesan Vision and Mission.  The Vision is so clear and the Mission is so precise.  If you care to look at it again, you will realise that our Diocesan Vision and Mission invite all of us – clergy, religious and laity – to journey together in communion, through Christ-centred communities, in the evangelising mission of building the Kingdom of God.

We know that there are hostile forces around us which are trying to confuse our people in order to destroy their faith.  We also know that some families are affected by such forces.  Therefore, we have to be alert and stay awake!  Please pay close attention to your children and to the young people in your communities so that they will not be victimised by such forces.  I urge you to strengthen each other’s faith and remind each other of your baptismal vocation.  If you can do that, I think Emeritus John will have a peaceful and enjoyable retirement.

Thank you and have a good meal.

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