08/22/2016, 12.21
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Two new priests for Hong Kong: A vocation born of witness

by Lucia Leung

The diocese celebrates the ordination of Fr. Ignatius Lo and Fr. Paul Nguyen: With 384 thousand faithful, there are only 68 consecrated from the diocese. The life of a priest "has to be interesting. We must put aside ourselves and draw near to others, especially to young people”.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The life of a priest "has to be interesting. A good priest is someone who puts aside himself and approaches others. To revive vocations, this approach needs to be done with the youth". This is the "recipe" shared with AsiaNews by Fr. Ignatius Lo (羅 敬業), who on August 20 was ordained a priest along with Fr. Paul Nguyen for the Diocese of Hong Kong.

The former British colony has a Catholic population of 384 thousand faithful. Of these, 160 thousand are Filipinos working here permanently, while non-residents of other nationalities are about 37 thousand.

To care for this flock, there are only 68 diocesan priests while those that come from missionary institutes number 223. According to these numbers - taken from diocesan statistics up to August 31, 2015 - every consecrated person has to care for 1,320 faithful. The ordination of two new priests was understandably greeted with joy: for some time the diocese has been carrying out different vocational programs, but the results are still minimal.

Fr. Ignatius' story is even more significant, because in some ways it reflects the spirit of the times of the Territory: Religious education in the family is declining in Hong Kong, as well as the attendance of churches and places of worship.

Despite this, a rampant materialism has failed to hold back the search for religious meaning: "I started to get interested in faith in college in 1997. I joined an Anglican congregation and was baptized in 1999, but for some time I also felt attracted by Catholicism”.

After reading a book on the life and mission of Mother Teresa, Ignatius began to feel a kind of call: "Someone told me that I should become a priest, but I thought that the message must be wrong. I talked to my pastor and asked him to pray for me".

Thanks to a Catholic friend Ignatius began to attend some liturgical celebrations of the local Church and, in 2003, decided to enter the Catholic catechumenate. In 2004 he started the path that led him to officially enter the Catholic Church during the Easter of 2005. This change "has not affected my vocation. I went to mass every day, and religious who cared for the church began to ask me if I were looking for something ... ".

The sisters presented Ignatius to the rector of the diocesan seminary, the Holy Spirit: "One year after my entrance into the Catholic Church I entered the seminary. At first I thought I wanted to follow the Dominican or Franciscan charism, but God has chosen the diocesan path for me".

His family did not take his decision well: "My parents and my two twin brothers, who are younger, are not Catholic. Especially my mother and father could not accpt my becoming a priest, they believed that they would lose a son".

With time, things changed: "They inability to understand my choices gradually passed to acceptance, and today my father is proud of me and appreciates the missionaries, who left everything for the good of Hong Kong. I will try to always study, continuing the work with young people and trying to make them understand that God has a calling for everyone".  

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