Fr Edmund Chong pays tribute to the late Thomas Lui

When I count my blessings, I count it twice because of you! [Source: Unknown]

I count my God-given blessings when my “love affairs” with pilgrimages were introduced early into my life.

It was Faith Tours’ pilgrimages that caught my interest most during my priestly infancy. I must register my thanks to Thomas Lui, the late founder of Faith Tours, who ignited both my curiosity and interest so that these bear fruit in my priestly life and ministry.

Thomas was called home to the Lord on Feb 1. Through him who had formed Faith Tours Agency upon the inspiration God had given him, I cannot let this episode come to pass without giving credit where it is due.

Thanks to him, I am better off as I’ve become the recipient of heavenly good through pilgrimages. In the words of St John the Baptist, “A man can lay claim only to what is given him from Heaven” (John 3:27), so it was with Thomas who was instrumental in promoting Christian pilgrimages in the early 1980s.

My interest in going on and leading group pilgrimages is the result of a deeper appreciation of the Christian faith and history. All of these I discover as I make inroads into the richness of our Catholic traditions and heritage in the lands chosen and blessed by God for a richer encounter with Jesus, Mary and the saints.

Often people ask the question, “Why – God is everywhere – must we go to Lourdes, Jerusalem or Rome to do the obvious?”
Perhaps, the best answer I can think of is what our Lord has said, “Come and see” (John 1:39) in reference to the call of faith and the obedience of faithfulness.

I realise and learn that God has a design for everything. He has every right to pick on certain places for His hidden purpose.

Just as we are called to conversion at the appropriate time, or to the appreciation of our faith at the opportune moment, could not God do the same with designated shrines or places of deep encountering that eventually would be marked off as holy sanctuaries of prayer and deep reflection?

We will never fathom the great mystery of God’s doing. Our friend, Thomas Lui, was in a somewhat mysterious situation. He, who was instrumental in bringing pilgrimages into our lives, was himself, a player to the end.

He, who introduced the blessings of pilgrimages was himself blessed. When doing his last pilgrimage, he was suddenly called home to the Lord.

I have both learned and gained so much from all my pilgrimages. If it was not because of Thomas’ earnest promoting of pilgrimages, I would be the lesser in the making.

Hence, I must place on record my heart-felt appreciation to the late founder of Faith Tours. In following the call of mission in building up a pilgrimage agency, people like me and many others still counting have been duly enriched and blessed by God abundantly.

Rest in peace my good friend!
I pen down this inspiration…

On Earth, we are pilgrims.
Destined for the higher:
Awaken, enlighten;
Onwards we go on the
Pulse of Heavenly Favours.