Aged and retired but still involved in the parish’s spiritual life

Eighty-nine-year-old Fr Joseph Hung and Fr John Yu, five years younger, both hail from China and came to Malaya in the 1950s. After studying in the seminary, they were ordained.

Apr 02, 2014

By Percy D’Cruz
Eighty-nine-year-old Fr Joseph Hung and Fr John Yu, five years younger, both hail from China and came to Malaya in the 1950s. After studying in the seminary, they were ordained. That was followed by a long time serving as parochial vicars in no fewer than ten parishes in Singapore and the Melaka-Johor Diocese.

Presently officially retired from ‘active duty’ and designated as priests in residence at the parish of St Theresa in Gajah Berang under the helm of Fr Peter Ng, their ‘always on the go’ stance is still there. Apart from hearing confessions, leading prayer groups and counselling, Fr Hung is involved in the writing of books both in English and Mandarin (thirteen in all to date) and is currently working on his autobiography slated for publication late next year.

On the other hand, Fr Yu is actively pursuing counselling, visiting sick parishioners at their homes, catching up with former parishioners who have moved outstation, leading prayer group sessions and attending fellowships organised by the parish’s various Mandarin speaking societies, groups and organisations.

When combined, the pair has served more than 116 years in the Lord’s Vineyard. Both attest to the words of Anon who once wrote, “The Lord is not calling us to be successful but to be faithful. Success is the game of the world while faithfulness is the call of the Gospels. I can stumble and fall and I can falter and fail and still get up and strive to be faithful to my God, myself, others and my priestly commitment.”

Fr Hung who recently celebrated his 89th birthday and 59th Sacerdotal anniversary, was born in 1925 in Semong in mainland China’s Sichuan Province. He received confirmation at the age of eleven and was repeatedly told by his catechist uncle that he would be a priest, a thought that sank into the young Fr. Hung’s mind with much fervour, he recalled.

After securing his family’s blessing on Easter Sunday 1937, he joined the Yah Au Seminary. Then came nine years of formal priestly studies at the Minor and Major Pak Luh Seminaries before coming over to Penang’s College General in late 1949 to pursue studies in Dogmatica Moral Theology, Holy Scripture, Canon Law and Liturgical Church History, all in Latin.

Fr Hung in 1954 undertook pastoral work at Muar’s Church of St Andrew while learning English and Teo Chew. He was ordained in late 1955 at Singapore’s Good Shepherd Cathedral by the late Archbishop Michael Olcomendy. He held parish tenures in Singapore churches till the end of 1958 before being posted to St Phillip, Segamat; St Francis Xavier, Melaka; St Theresa, Gajah Berang and also St Mary’s Ayer Salak. Fr Hung then went on long leave visiting Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, the United States, Thailand and China before returning to St Theresa’s as priest in residence.

Fr Yu was born in 1930 in the Chang Lin District in China’s Jia Lin Province. He began religious formation at the age of sixteen at the Muntian and Bei-Kin Seminaries in his home province. In 1950 as a young seminarian aged 20, he moved to Penang’s College General to begin formal priesthood studies. He was ordained in 1957 by the late Bishop Francis Chan of Penang and was immediately posted to Muar’s St Andrew as assistant parish priest.

His longest single parish tenure was at St Theresa’s in Melaka between 1981-2001 before returning to St Andrew’s and then on to Tangkak’s St Matthew before retiring as priest in residence last year at his most loved and favourite parish.

On his continued good health and general well being, Fr Yu, a cancer survivor, always adheres to the maxim — Live in the love of God and He will take good care of you.

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