Evangelization – or preaching the Gospel and making Disciples – is an essential element of our faith.

Very few people can live in isolation. We generally do better when we have people around to talk to, share stories with, and support us. I feel this is especially true when it comes to faith and religion. Here, I will attempt to share my thoughts and reflect on my spiritual journey -- I know this will further strengthen my faith, and I hope this will positively influence yours as well.  - CradleCatholic2.0

Evangelization – or preaching the Gospel and making Disciples – is an essential element of our faith.

 

by CradleCatholic2.0, for September 2018 Newsletter

 

For Chinese Catholics, perhaps no evangelist figures as prominently as Servant of God Matteo Ricci, S.J. (利瑪竇), who was invited into Imperial China in the late 1500s and founded the historic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the oldest church in Beijing. Ricci’s model of accommodating for cultural differences without distorting the Gospel message increased how native Chinese viewed the word of God.

Centuries later, when Chinese Christians emigrated from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan to foreign countries, they needed evangelizers and spiritual directors who could connect with them.

Luckily for the Chinese immigrants of San Francisco’s East Bay, there was Salesian priest Father Thomas Ng, former director of the Oakland Diocese’s Chinese Catholic Pastoral Center. He provided the immigrants spiritual nourishment (and music!) that reminded them of the country and traditions they left while helping them assimilate into American lifestyle.

Recently, we learned that Father Ng had completed his earthly mission and has returned home to God.

During the lead-up to his Funeral Mass on August 21, many shared stories of their encounters with Father Ng. How many people – university students or new families alike – has he helped get situated in their new American life? How many of their kids did he teach? How has he contributed to our diocese’s ethnic ministry?

Father Ng came to Oakland in 1977, the same year Bishop Emeritus John Cummings was named the second leader of the Diocese of Oakland. Bishop Cummings was looking for a priest to serve Chinese Catholics, and Father Ng filled that role for three decades, presiding over the demographic’s growth as waves of Chinese immigrants arrived in the East Bay.

In a 2008 profile of Father Ng, the retiring priest told the Catholic Voice that he considered the growth of Oakland’s Chinese Catholic community “a miracle,” because many native Chinese are Buddhists or worship gods that are local to their native communities.

Thanks to Father Ng’s courageous vision and unwavering dedication, and with support from the founding parishioners of the Chinese Catholic Pastoral Center, what started as 25 people attending a Mandarin mass at Fremont’s St. Joseph expanded to more than 100 people going to church every Sunday and progressed to hundreds of families worshiping in both Mandarin and Cantonese at four East Bay churches.

Early in his retirement, Father Ng remained close to the parishioners of the Oakland Chinese Catholic Community. He continued to say Mass, hear confessions, counsel those in need, and support the music ministry at St. Leo.

A talented composer and pianist/organist, Father Ng had composed at least four Masses, including one called the St. Leo the Great Mass, before his retirement. His music appears in hymnals for Chinese Catholics and his legacy will live on in sung words at church services across the world.

Father Thomas Ng, long-serving shepherd to S.F. East Bay Chinese Catholics, rest in peace. Thank you for your tireless service to our community.

 


 

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