Be a priest after the heart of Jesus

Sylvester Wong Vun Cheong was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop John Wong at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, June 24.

Jul 01, 2022

Newly ordained Fr Sylvester gives Holy Communion to a parishioner

By Linda Edward

Sylvester Wong Vun Cheong was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop John Wong at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, June 24.

Deeply grateful to God to be ordained during this Solemnity, Fr Sylvester said the Sacred Heart has a significant meaning to his life. “I have three Sacred Heart holy pictures and two of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in my room, accompanying me in the seminary. I am privileged to be ordained on this great Solemnity,” he said.

His was the first priestly ordination in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu postpandemic.“ It is my fervent prayer for Fr Sylvester that he will be a priest “after the Heart of Jesus,” said Archbishop John.

The prelate wished that the annual Feast of Sacred Heart be a constant reminder for Fr Sylvester as he begins his priestly life.

Speaking on the ‘World Meetings of Families’, June 22-26 in Rome, he said a good family is fertile ground for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

“Not all families are perfect but by the grace of God, a family can overcome all odds, whatever circumstances they are in. “Fr Sylvester is blessed to have a good family to support and encourage him in his desire to be a priest.

Among the large congregation that day were Fr Sylvester’s parents, William Chong and Agatha Lo, his 92-year-old grandmother whom he said has never failed to care for him, his three siblings, and relatives from as far as the UK and Canada.

The 43-year-old earned a degree in Mechanical and Production Engineering from a Singaporean University in 2004. From then to 2013, he worked in Singapore, and served in several Catholic ministries around the world, before entering the seminary.

While in Singapore, his encounter with God was during his stint with the young adult ministries especially the Living Stones, with whom he’d served the longest.

His spiritual directors, Fr Colin Tan SJ, who was at his ordination ceremony, and Fr Philip Heng SJ, of the Jesuits community of Singapore, guided the young lad in seeking his direction.

He especially mentioned his great-aunt, Sr Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart, who had been praying for his vocation since he was a teenager and now, her prayer has been answered, he said.

Fr Sylvester has also served with the clergy and religious communities in Singapore such as the Franciscan Friars.

In 2011, he attended the School of Mission in New Zealand where he served with the ICPE community (an English-speaking Outreach Ministry), and in 2013, he served with The Friends of Jesus’ Passover (Chinesespeaking Outreach Ministry) in Hong Kong.

With such life experiences, it was not a surprise to see many of his friends including priests from the Netherlands, South Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak, at his ordination.

His pastoral immersions were in the parishes of Tuaran (2019), Ranau (2020), Inanam including Manggatal, Telipok and KKIP (2021), as well as Song in Sibu Diocese (2021).

Catholic Sabah reached out to him on his first priestly task.

“I celebrated my first Mass in the Carmelite Monastery KK on June 25 at 6.30am.

“I felt extremely honoured, privileged and loved in this service. God has prepared me for this day.

“I felt loved at my first Mass because the Carmelites and Immaculate Heart of Mary were so close to me.

“Now I’m familiarising on celebrating Mass first. Like any assistant priests, I will be assisting the parish priest in ministering Sacraments,” said Fr Sylvester, who remains posted in St Catherine Inanam parish. -- Catholic Sabah

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