GREGORY YONG was born on May 20, 1925 in Taiping, Perak.
His pious Catholic parents ensured that he and his brother obtained a sound Catholic education. His early education was at St George’s Institution, Taiping and later at St Michael’s Institution in Ipoh.
His vocation to the priesthood was a simple call. He was inspired by watching the priest at Mass. "I desired to be a priest and liked the Mass without realising its significance at that time," he said.
He joined the St Francis Xavier Minor Seminary in Singapore in 1940, when he was 15, and the College General (Major Seminary) in Penang in 1944.
After his third year in Penang, he was asked to teach at the minor seminary in Singapore. He returned to Penang to complete his studies at the College General in 1950, and was ordained to the priesthood on Dec 3, 1951 by Bishop Michael Olcomendy.
His first appointment was as assistant parish priest to Father Francis Chan, who later became the Bishop of Penang, at Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Singapore.
In October 1953, he was sent to St Peter’s College in Rome, to take up a doctorate in Canon Law. This he obtained in 1956, the first priest in the Singapore-Malaysia-Brunei region to do so.
He returned to Singapore in August 1956 and was appointed assistant to Father Peter Chin at Sacred Heart Church in Tank Road.
Eight months later, he joined the staff of the minor seminary in Ponggol where he coached students for the Higher School Certificate. Among his students –Nicholas Chia, Eugene Vaz, Anthony Ho. He taught at the minor seminary for eight years.
In 1965, he assisted Father Moses Koh at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
A year later, he was appointed to the teaching staff of the College General in Penang, the first local priest to be given such an appointment.
He was consecrated Bishop of Penang on Jul 1, 1968 and installed as Archbishop of Singapore on Apr 2, 1977 at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd.
On his 75th birthday on May 20, 2000, he sent his resignation letter to Pope John Paul II in accordance with Canon law. It was accepted and made official at the Vatican on Oct 14 of the same year. During the Pope’s Day Mass at the cathedral the next day, Archbishop Yong, in a moving farewell speech, told the congregation, "From today onwards, I am no longer your archbishop, but I remain your fellow Catholic."
On Jul 25, 2001 he moved from Archbishop’s House at 31 Victoria St, his home for the past 24 years, to his new home at the St Francis Xavier Minor Seminary in Upper Serangoon Road. He lived there until September 2004 when ill health made it necessary for him to move to St. Joseph’s Home in Jurong, where he lived until his death on Saturday Jun 28, 2008 at 2.40pm.