Father Ho Lung celebrates 75
Cathy Risden, Gleaner Writer
Father Richard Ho Lung's 75th birthday and 55 years of religious life were celebrated by the numerous lives he has touched at The Spanish Court Hotel on September 30. The Valencia came alive, beautifully decorated with palm trees covered in Christmas ornaments. To greet specially invited guests were exhibitions of plaques, books, DVDs and CDs of various missions, testimonies, and music composed by Father Ho Lung, and Missionaries of the Poor (MOP).
A night that was expected to be filled with fun and laughter saw guests waltzing in with smiles on their faces to celebrate a man who was respected, loved, and seen by many as a religious legend.
Master of ceremonies Paul Bitter noted that Father Ho Lung was truly a representative of the Beatitudes in Matthew's gospel. While many were happy to be celebrating such a great missionary, the celebration was tainted with mixed feelings as the guest of honour could not be present because of illness.
In his greeting, Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites spoke very highly of Father Ho Lung and his work as a priest who was dedicated to his mission for more than 55 years. "He cares for the poorest of the poor, the ones that no one wants to care for," said Thwaites.
The party must go on
But the party went on. Renditions were done by the Father Ho Lung Junior Choir young missionaries and the Missionaries of the Poor brethren, which included a very entertaining choreographed dance. Then the moment anticipated by many arrived - the cutting of the divinely decorated cake. To perform the honour for Father Ho Lung were members from the Missionaries of the Poor, Brothers Augusto Silot and Hayden Augustine, Junior Brother Maximo Medina, and Valarie Jackson-Daley.
Although Father Ho Lung was missing, he sent in a message that was read by Father Hayden Augustine. It read in part: "My heart is alive with desire for peace and justice in our island. As MOP, we have spent our lives for the poorest and the most forgotten of our people. We find them funny yet tragic, beautiful yet distracted, so poor and yet so rich with humanity."
Father Ho Lung noted that he was happy to be alive at the age of 75.
"Seventy-five years alive and in Jamaica, I give thanks for every single day, every single minute and hour, even the times when I have sent and disappointed you. Yes, it all adds up to love - you loving me and I loving you. And also this love for all my beloved friends - rich, poor, middle class, the sinners who are seeking, and the sinners who are being called to the Lord."