HONG KONG (SE): Timothy Yan Ho-fung was ordained a priest at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, Caine Road, on January 4 at an ordination Mass officiated by John Cardinal Tong Hon, apostolic administer of the Diocese of Hong Kong. The newly-ordained priest said at the end of the ceremony that he was a person with limitations but God sent him angels in his life, giving him consolation and support so that he could serve others in the same way.
Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, retired bishop of Hong Kong; Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing; Monsignor Javier Herrera Corona, head of the Holy See Study Mission; and around 60 priests concelebrated the Mass.
Bishop Ha, rector of the Holy Spirit Seminary, recommended Deacon Yan to Cardinal Tong for admission to the priesthood. The cardinal then explained the priestly duties to him. In turn, Deacon Yan made a pledge of commitment to his duties, to proclaim the good news and surrender his life to God.
Cardinal Tong together with all the clergy present imposed hands on and prayed for the soon-to-be priest before the cardinal anointed him. His mother assisted him in putting on the priest’s chasuble and stole.
The congregation of the clergy welcomed the newly-ordained Father Yan to the fold with a fraternal embrace. In a moving scene, the congregation witnessed an emotional hug from Marie Cheung Wan-chun, the mother of the new priest, as they responded with continuous applause.
Father Yan thanked the cardinals, Bishop Ha, as well as all the priests who supported him during his time in the seminary and his pastoral training. He expressed his love for his mother who supported his vocation. He especially mentioned his mentor, Father Antonio Formenti of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), whose death anniversary fell on the same day of as the ordination.
Father Yan recalled that he did not have a happy childhood as he had a violent father, which was a psychological burden. “It is not simple for me to be a priest. It is like asking a person with a broken leg to run a race,” he said.
He acknowledges that his vocation is a calling from God and that he never expected that he would have a chance to heal during his 11 years of training. He expressed gratitude to his clinical physiologist, Maggie Lau Kit-yee, who helped him overcome the burden.
He expressed his profound gratitude to the diocese for taking care of every single concern he had. He recalled how the diocese supported him when he undertook six-months English language training in Canada in 2014 because his English skills were very poor.
Father Yan invited the priests present to join him at the grotto of Immaculate Conception to impart a blessing on Hong Kong and to pray together for the healing of its people and for justice to be upheld in the city.
Cheung, the mother, told the Sunday Examiner of her gratitude to the Blessed Virgin Mary ever since she prayed before a statue of Our Lady at Caritas Hospital for her son’s survival when he was in critical condition at just two-months-old. “God’s salvation and love can be so great. I can only express my deep gratitude,” she said.
She admitted that she did not want him to be a priest at first, but soon realised that she had to support God’s plan. “Now I always pray, with my true heart, that he becomes an instrument of God to glorify him,” his mother said.
Lau, the clinical physiologist, encouraged the new priest to serve the Church by following his heart “because Jesus Christ is already there!”
Souvenir cards for the ordination, designed by Beatitude Sister Marie Anastasia, were distributed after the ceremony. The paintings depicted Father Yan’s vocational journey in God’s love.
Father Yan celebrated his First Mass on January 5 at 11:30am at St. Francis Church, Ma On Shan, where Father Yan received his pastoral training.
Father Manohar Jyothi PIME, parish priest of St. Francis’ Church, said Father Yan served others with simple faith, patience and perseverance. He said the difficulties that he overcame while responding to his vocation showed that when God calls one to be a priest, nothing can stop God’s plan.
Father Yan was born in Hong Kong in 1982 and was baptised at St. Stephen’s Church, Kwai Chung. After his family moved to Tin Shui Wai in 1996, he became an altar server and a member of the youth group as well as the parish council at St. Jerome’s Church. He took part in the World Youth Day in Germany in 2005, which sowed the seed for his vocation.
He graduated from the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education in 2006 and then worked at the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department. He joined a vocation discernment group in the same year. In 2008, he entered the Holy Spirit Seminary.