Priests and former parishioners have described the late Fr Noel Chin as a quiet person, caring towards others and dedicated to his vocation.
Fr Chin returned to the Lord on Aug 21 at St Joseph’s Home & Hospice. He was residing there for the last seven months or so after being discharged from hospital following a stroke. He was 72.
During Fr Chin’s funeral Mass on Aug 24 at the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea, Archbishop William Goh said that even though Fr Chin was a quiet man and hardly spoke except on topics such as ecclesiastical matters and gardening, he was a fatherly and caring person.
As an altar boy at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary back then, Archbishop Goh recalled Fr Chin taking the altar servers out for meals and shopping.
Fr Chin was “truly a caring father” in the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary (SFXMS) where he was rector from 1983-1991. He had compassion “for the poor, the weak and the underdogs”, Archbishop Goh said.
Fr Chin spent most of his priestly ministry in the seminary – more than 20 years in various positions – as acting rector of College General in Penang from 1981-1982, as the first rector of SFXMS and later as procurator. He also taught philosophy in the seminary.
Although he was a “shy man, a man of few words”, he showed his care through his actions, said Fr Edmund Chong, who was a seminarian when Fr Chin was rector. Fr Chin always made himself available to the seminarians.
Fr Paul Yeo told CatholicNews that Fr Chin “was strict yet understanding”. He was “never a disciplinarian but someone who is fatherly and yet... able to administrate, guide well”.
Fr Chin was knowledgeable about philosophy – the subject which he taught “decisively...grounded in faith...truth”, Fr Yeo said.
In an interview in the 2008 edition of The Journey – the SFXMS magazine – Fr Chin said that he along with Fr Adrian Anthony and Fr Anthony Ho were instrumental in setting up the seminary. He was “closely involved” in the planning of the SFXMS and stipulated the kind of structures and facilities needed.
His parish assignments included the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea (OLSS).
He was appointed archdiocesan procurator when Archbishop Nicholas Chia headed the archdiocese.
During the funeral Mass, Archbishop Emeritus Chia praised Fr Chin’s “complete dedication to the Church”. Despite the late priest “not being in the best of health, he undertook his responsibilities with great dedication”, said Archbishop Chia.
Archbishop Goh noted that Fr Chin was a “man of integrity, a man who was responsible in his ministry, a man who could be trusted”.
Laypeople who knew Fr Chin also painted a picture of a caring priest.
Mr George Palmer said Fr Chin always showed concern for his parishioners. “Whenever we speak to him, he would always make us feel good, feel peaceful.”
Mrs Margaret Tang praised Fr Chin for being a “generous and humble priest” who was “very sympathetic towards the people”.
“Whoever comes to him, he will try his very best to offer help,” she said.
He also never complained when he was sick, she said. Fr Chin would always say he was OK whenever she asked about his well-being, Mrs Tang said.
By Darren Boon