Missionary Of The Poor Says Thanks Via Mass
When the brothers, sisters and friends of Missionaries of the Poor met recently for a mass of thanksgiving, it was an anniversary celebration of quadruple proportions. At the centre of the mass was the Very Reverend Father Richard Ho Lung. He celebrated his 77th birthday in September, 45th anniversaries of his ordination to priesthood and the Father Ho Lung Music Ministry, as well as the 35th anniversary of the Missionaries of the Poor as a religious Institute of Brothers.
The Holy Cross Church, located on Half-Way Tree Road, saw a good turnout to celebrate the milestones. They listened to the beautiful renditions of songs by representatives of the brothers and their friends, while also joining in singing the feet stomping and hand-clapping songs from Father Ho Lung's catalogue.
The short but fulfilling service was officiated by Archbishop of Kingston Kenneth Richards, with all the traditional Catholic rituals. The homily was delivered by Father Ho Lung, who spoke of the importance of servitude and humility, as he took a jab at politics and a slight elbowing of Hurricane Matthew.
He reminded the congregation that Jesus was called first among robbers to establish a community between himself and mankind.
Later, at lunch, Father Ho Lung said the longevity of the musical ministry was due to "the best of singers, most talented of people, tremendous supporters, like Wynton Williams, the musical director; choreographers like Paula Shaw and the Darcy (Tulloch) - all these wonderful people. The best came forward not because the music was the best, but because God is the best and He wanted it. That's what gave me the impetuous to go on, certainly not fame, but God really wanted me to do it."
The Gleaner also asked some of the longstanding friends - vocalists Darcy Tulloch, Renee Rattray, Rose Cameron and Grace Jervis - how the music ministry had impacted their lives and more.
Tulloch said being part of the group has impacted her "tremendously, just in terms of working with the poor, recognising the needs of others and also developing the gifts that God has given".
For Rattray, it was her entry point into the whole business of service.
"I was able to use my talent and the gift of singing to serve in this huge way. Father Ho Lung has been a good model to me. It was an opening for me and it has caused me to meet so many people and be a part of a great family."
Rose Cameron, who started with Father Ho Lung in the '70s, says she has been enjoying every minute of it. The breaking down of barriers and going into the homes of people who are forgotten by the rest of society was exciting and a blessing.
Joined in 1989, Jervis became a member of the family. She sang for 10 straight years and then on and off.
"It has been a privilege - a really humbling privilege - being with this group. I have always said to Father, there are some things the missionaries do that some of us are just not able to do, but if in singing, we can help generate the awareness and finances that we can't physically do, then it is our privilege. So I have nothing but tremendous respect for this ministry and continue to encourage it."