MAY 31, 2015, Vol 65, No 11

Fr Luke Fong speaks about his two-year journey with leukemia in a conversation with Mel Diamse-Lee.
 
CN: Nothing prepares us enough for
Fr Luke Fong with his stem cell donor, Mr Peter Mui, in Chicago, the United States.Fr Luke Fong with his stem cell donor, Mr Peter Mui, in Chicago, the United States.
the kind of ordeal you went through. What do you think prepared you?
FR LUKE: Seeing the reality that so many people suffer from this kind of bad news is enough reason for one to, I suppose, get ready for the day when you may have to face the same thing. My spiritual director in the seminary [Archbishop Goh now] had always recommended that we do a meditation on death at least once a month as part of our spiritual exercises.

We’ve never actually gone into why we should do it [but] I had an inkling that it was good, it was necessary and various results came from such meditations. The benefits do come later, as I was to find out.

I had been relatively spared a lot of life’s challenges, I guess. So the way I ministered to these people with such illnesses, and who are in some sort of a suffering, came only from a cerebral concept of what they must be going through, and what the Church would say or should say are the politically and religiously correct terminologies, approaches and attitudes to have.
A wife, a mother and a son share about how God and the faith community helped them cope in their pain and grief

Transformed in the face of death
Madam Germaine Yeo with husband Vince (right), son Keegan and Redemptorist Fr Jacob Ong. Madam Yeo passed away in February this year.Madam Germaine Yeo with husband Vince (right), son Keegan and Redemptorist Fr Jacob Ong. Madam Yeo passed away in February this year.

Madam Germaine Yeo was 49 when she was diagnosed with stage fourcolorectal cancer in 2008. She was told she had three months to live. At this stage, patients would traditionally be put on palliative care. But her doctor, wanting to give her a chance at life, went against his seniors’ advice and recommended a less conventional and more aggressive treatment.

Madam Yeo went through two major surgeries and aggressive chemotherapy. The treatment worked and for about two years she was cancer-free. And then it returned.

In February this year, seven years after a cheerful and courageous fight, she succumbed, leaving behind her husband, Vince Lin, and their only child, Keegan.
Malaysian Fr Mark Aloysius, Society of JesusMalaysian Fr Mark Aloysius, Society of Jesus
When was the last time you had fun?
That has got to be a couple of weeks ago when I climbed Mt Kinabalu. Although terribly exhausted, I was deeply consoled by the view along the climb and at the peak. It was remarkably awesome to be in the midst of something so beautiful!   

Name an occasion you felt embarrassed/humiliated.
While leading prayers at an interment recently, instead of saying the name of the deceased person I said his son’s name, who stood right beside me. Needless to say, I wanted to crawl into the niche myself and hide because I was so embarrassed. Instead, I apologised profusely.

Name an occasion/incident when you felt God was far away.
There were times in my Jesuit life when I questioned my own vocation and when I suffered interiorly because I wanted to give up being a Jesuit. Not only did I not know what God wanted me to do, I did not know what I wanted to do. The ambivalence was both painful, and a moment of profound grace.
Fr Brian D’Souza blessing the prayer monitors during the celebrations. Fr Brian D’Souza blessing the prayer monitors during the celebrations.
Prayer monitors from CHIJ Our Lady of Good Counsel were blessed by Fr Brian D’Souza on April 24, during the school’s feast day and 55th anniversary celebrations.

The prayer monitors’ role in school is to help to lead their fellow classmates in prayer at pre-recess, post-recess and at the end of the school day.

After a Mass attended by guests-of-honour Sr Maria Lau, provincial of the IJ Sisters, and former principal, Mrs Josephine Colaco, the monitors, dressed in white, were led on stage.

In the meantime, the school sang the hymn Our Lady of Good Counsel, written by alumnae Jacqueline Peeris.

The monitors then recited the prayer to Our Lady of Good Counsel, which was written by Mrs Lesley Goonting, the school’s chaplain.
Ms Shirley Tan, seen here with kindergarten students.Ms Shirley Tan, seen here with kindergarten students.
Ms Shirley Tan, principal of the Church of the Holy Trinity Kindergarten, was appointed an Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) Fellow on May 6.

She, together with 13 other leaders in the early childhood sector, were the first batch to receive this appointment.

“I feel honoured, humbled and grateful,” said Ms Tan, who has been principal of the kindergarten since 2004. “To my mind, much more will now be required and expected of me, professionally,” said the mother of three.