Our Beloved Fr. Ng -- Oakland Chinese Catholic Community

Our Beloved Fr. Ng

- Joseph Seto, Oakland Chinese Catholic Community

Good Evening, Fr. Paul, other honorable fathers, sisters, deacons and brothers and sisters in Christ. My name is Joseph Seto. I am a member of the Chinese Community at St Leo in Oakland. I’m going to say a few words about Fr. Ng in English.

Fr. Ng came to the diocese at a providential moment with many new comers from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Mainland China. When President Richard Nixon made a historical visit to China in 1972, an important step in formally normalizing relations between the US and China, many families and foreign students were starting new lives or seeking a higher education in universities in the Bay Area. A number of these were already practicing Catholics while many more were seeking to start their journey of faith. Bishop Cummins had a vision to fulfill the spiritual needs of these newcomers. He had an aspiration for them to celebrate the Eucharist in their own language but also be able to preserve their own culture and traditions in this new place they now call home.

A small Chinese community was formed in 1977. Fr. Mathias Liu started to say Mass in Mandarin in the chapel at Our Lady of Lourdes off Lake Merritt while most parishioners were Cantonese speaking. In the meantime, Fr. Ng had just finished his doctorate degree in music from Ohio State University and came to Oakland Diocese with an invitation from Bishop Cummins. Fr. Ng, a native Cantonese speaker, eventually became the Director of the Chinese Pastoral Center and moved the community to St Leo. Fr. Ng served under that capacity until his retirement in 2007.

Under Fr. Ng’s 40 years of leadership, the Chinese group has grown from a single community in Oakland to four individual communities which include Oakland, Union City, Fremont and San Pablo within the Diocese of Oakland. After his retirement, Fr. Ng remained active within the community.

Fr. Ng spoke at least five languages; English, Cantonese, Mandarin but more importantly, he spoke the languages of love and music. He was a composer, a conductor, a music director, a pianist and a soloist, sharing his spiritual gifts with us all. He was always open to incorporating new spiritual songs into our sacraments, even including spiritual songs from other Christian faith brothers and sisters. Fr. Ng touched many hearts and souls with his musical creations as well his teachings and weekly homilies. He was a good shepherd because he tirelessly sought out those who were lost and brought them to the church.

During his ministry with us, he was always willing to invite guest priests or other trained parishioners to enrich our faith with workshops and guide us in retreats. He is well known and well loved by many of us. We all owe him much. We treasure his work and memory in our hearts. We may be sad but this is not goodbye because we all know the best has yet to come and that we will reunite with Fr. Ng one day in our Father’s Kingdom.



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