- by Fr. Francis Ching, CC

Fr. Francis Ching was ordained to the priesthood in 2005. He is from Toronto, ON.
 


The following article is retrieved from the Spring 2016 Companions of the Cross newsletter (pg. 20-21), with Fr. Francis Ching's permission to repost on our website http://www.oaklandccc.org.  All Rights Reserved.  You can contact us if there are any qusetions.


 

In July 2015, I began a new page in my priesthood. I became fulltime giving retreats, missions, and special ministries of evangelization.

 

It all started in 2014 when I finished my role as the Administrator of St. Timothy Parish in Toronto. In the few months after that, while initially I felt the need to slow down and recuperate, yet slowly I began to experience a lack of zeal and enthusiasm in my parochial ministry. As it was also at that time that I was coming toward the end of my first ten years of priesthood, a priest friend casually reminded me that the honeymoon is over, but the next ten years is the time I should develop in my gifts. That passing remark turned out to be providential. With the help of my brother priests in the house, I quickly discover that my passion and my gifts are in preaching, teaching, and equipping others to evangelize. For many years, even since before my ordination, I have been heavily involved in giving retreats and missions, but because of the demands of my parish ministry, as the years progressed, I had to turn down more and more requests. Being freed from parish ministry would certainly help to develop these passions.

 

At the same time, my friends at the Fountain of Love and Life (FLL), a charitable organization for media evangelization of the Chinese based in Toronto, had also obtained their own status and were looking for a Chinese priest to help them to consolidate their work, especially in providing ongoing advice to their content and giving formation to their staff and volunteers. So I brought this opportunity to the Executive Council for discernment and it was decided that I was to be assigned full-time missions, with part of the work devoted to assist FLL as well as fund-raising for the community.

(Image at Left:  Fr. Ching Preaching, Photo Credit: Companions of the Cross)

 

I have to be honest that I am not naturally disposed toward initiating the unknown. When I first started I was a mixed bag of excitement and trepidation. I made a number of phone calls to Fr. Ben, who has been doing full-time missions for a while, to learn from him and that helped a lot. My biggest areas of unknown were fundraising and finding enough missions. My target was to raise $50k. So I started sending out sponsorship letters. I emailed everybody I knew who might be interested in my new work and those who might have money to give. I sent emails to communities all over North America that I had given retreats to before and asked if they might be interested to have me come again. And then I gave the whole thing to the Lord. I told myself: I will give this two years. If it succeeds, it is God’s will; if not, it’s time to discern a new assignment.

 

It did not take long. Requests began to come in, and the money as well. By August, it was overwhelming. By the end of September, I raised over $50k. I was repeatedly humbled by the generosity of the people. Ken Gorman said: “It looks like people really want you to do your work.” I guess so.

 

The requests also began to come. First they were youth retreats or prayer group talks, but then came the missions. From September onward, I was travelling every month: Washington DC, Seattle, and Hong Kong (it was a vacation but I got invited to give a retreat to a charismatic group), Vancouver, San Francisco… The majority of these were for the Chinese communities. But there are also weekend retreats and parish missions for the wider Church. In fact, I’m writing this while I’m in Oshawa giving a parish mission. By the end of June 2016, within the first year of the mission I will have over 50 engagements.

 

Many people asked me if I was not tired from all the travelling. Yes, I admit, a bit more tiring than I ever knew travelling could be. The good thing is that I actually like to travel and love to meet new and old friends. Everywhere I go I always try to stay at a parishioner’s home, who can take better care of me given my sight handicap. A few times I ended up helping out with babysitting, haha, which itself was a tremendous blessing.

 

But the one thing that most energizes me at these missions is the hunger in the people’s souls. And nothing rejoices my heart more than to see someone come to encounter Jesus and say yes to him.  People everywhere are thirsting for life’s meaning, for the truth, for the freedom promised by the Lord. If only we had more labourers in the harvest! They are ripe for the Kingdom.

Photo by Colin Cheng, Fr. Francis participates in the music ministry as well on these missions.
 
(Image at Right:  Fr. Francis participates in the music ministry as well on these missions, Photo by Colin Cheng)

 

In terms of the topics of my missions, for the most part this year, I used the topic “Consecrated for Mercy” which includes the themes of forgiveness, generosity and obedience to mercy. At some of the longer missions like Vancouver, I also gave a workshop on “Intentional Discipleship”. I also gave two Spiritual Gifts workshops in Cantonese so far. And with my work with FLL, I now go to their office once a week to celebrate Mass and provide support. I also have begun to do some weekly radio recordings on various topics. Besides a few retreats and workshops I gave with them, I also ran an eight session workshop for training praise and worship leaders, which covers everything from singing, theology, spirituality to liturgy. And if there is not enough travelling, I also took on a few pilgrimages.

 

All these of course presented quite a big change to my lifestyle as well. I can no longer keep a regular day-to-day schedule. I have to get use to capitalizing on my down days between missions and I’m still learning how to use them wisely and well. There are also many perks. I have been able to visit many holy doors in the different dioceses and each place I visited I tried to also do some fun things as well as visit some local shrines. One of my big advantages this year was being able to visit St. Junipero Serra’s mission at Carmel CA. But the big gift from God though is that although my ministry is now vastly different from those of my brothers in the house, I have experienced no separation from them and they continue to be a tremendous support to me.

 

So, will I be doing this for the next ten years or more? I don’t know. The year is not up yet. But so far, it has been an exhilarating ride! God be praised!

 


 

 

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