MAY 05, 2013, Vol 63, No 09
|FR PAUL TONG|
Fr Paul Tong, 86, says he is grateful to be celebrating his 60th anniversary as a priest.
He was born in Shandong, China, joined the seminary in Tianjin and pursued his studies in philosophy at the major seminary in Beijing.
He completed his theology studies at the Pontificia Universita Urbaniana in Rome, and was ordained a priest on Dec 20, 1953. He later studied sociology at the University of Louvain, Belgium.
At the invitation of then Archbishop Michael Olcomendy, Fr Tong arrived in Singapore in November 1958 to serve the archdiocese. He has worked in parishes such as Church of Sts Peter and Paul, Church of St Bernadette and Church of Sacred Heart where he is currently assistant priest.
|FR GERALD TSENG|
After a year of teaching he was posted to work with the Irish Jesuits in Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur. He was given the task of running the Jesuit student hostel known as Xavier Hall. After eight years, he left Malaysia.
“I had a choice of going back to Hong Kong to teach in one of our Jesuit colleges or stay and work in Singapore as the Irish Jesuits had already established themselves in Kingsmead Hall and had built the former St Ignatius Church along King’s Road,” he recalls.
As an old boy of St Joseph’s Institution, he approached Br Joseph Kiely, the principal then.
“I taught the lower classes of Secondary One and Two as I felt that I would be able to influence the young students to dedicate their life to serve the Lord as Religious priests or Religious brothers,” he said.
|FR JOHN NGUYEN VAN DICH|
Fr John Nguyen van Dich’s vocation as a missionary was nurtured in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, where he joined the minor seminary in 1964.
He describes the hilltribe people as “candid, sincere, loving and trusting” and spent a year assisting the villagers in education and agricultural skills.
Hard times came when the communists occupied the south of Vietnam in 1975. Fr van Dich recalls the closure of seminaries, the exodus of students back home with priests and professors imprisoned in concentration camps or sent back to France.
He himself suffered in hard labour and concentration camps – more than three years in stone quarries. “For the communists, it was ... ‘re-education’. For me, it was a time of purgatory ... they were to prepare me for my mis-sionary life in Singapore,” he said.
He escaped Vietnam after one year on the run and arrived in Paris in 1979. He returned to his priestly studies and joined the Paris Foreign Missions Society (MEP) in 1984.
SINGAPORE – “More schools will be opened in the future to take in more students.”
This was one of the aspirations written on the Montfort Schools’ Singapore Conversation exhibition which was unveiled on April 20.
The exhibition was a culmination of a four-month dialogue among students from Montfort Junior and Montfort Secondary Schools, their teachers, family members and members of the community.