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Let the Holy Spirit surprise you

Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-yan was ordained the ninth bishop of Hong Kong on December 4. Prior to his episcopal ordination, he was interviewed by diocesan newspapers – the Sunday Examiner and the Kung Kao Po. The interview is presented here.

Dec 11, 2019 2021

Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-yan was ordained the ninth bishop of Hong Kong on December 4. Prior to his episcopal ordination, he was interviewed by diocesan newspapers – the Sunday Examiner and the Kung Kao Po. The interview is presented here.

When Pope Francis, a Jesuit, was elected Pope in 2013, the Church experienced new vitality and new hope. What can we expect from Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-yan, also a Jesuit? The response was quick: “I am not François! Bishop Chow recognized the common factor he shares with the Pope: “As Jesuits, one of our general chapters places great importance on spiritual conversation and discernment in communion – communion not only among Jesuits , but we must discern with non-Jesuits in mission and our lay partners in mission. I think this is an important tool for a bishop.

“I don’t believe in running the diocese like a business with big strategic plans. We need to listen to different sectors, especially the laity. They have a voice that needs to be heard. And this is what the Pope means by synodality. Francis is very Jesuit!

Childhood
Bishop Chow was baptized on the 10th day after his birth, at the Parish of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, which is now known as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in Wan Chai. He attended Rosary Hill Kindergarten and Elementary School before joining Wah Yan College. He showed a great interest in studies and extracurricular activities and was eager to learn judo until one day he developed a severe and potentially fatal form of epilepsy.

Repeated hospitalizations, prolonged treatments and medication traumatized the young man. He thought he was in danger of dying. His father took him to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to see a priest. Contrary to his fears that the priest would rebuke him for not attending church regularly, he found compassion in Father Antony Tsang Hing-lam, and this faith instilled in his young spirit.

“When the pendulum swings, it swings to the extreme! Bishop Chow laughed. He begins to attend church and the sacraments, to the point where the priest even tells him not to come back for confession the same day!

His state of health affected his academic performance and hampered his social life. However, he was involved in various Catholic groups on campus as well as in the parish, serving as an altar boy, with the Christian Life Community and the Apostleship of Prayer, as well as with the Red Cross.

“You name it, I was there … except I didn’t go back to judo, because my parents wouldn’t allow me,” he said, adding that he had gradually gotten to know him. Jesuit priests on campus and had started to think, “Becoming a Jesuit is not a bad idea! ”

His results were not good enough to be admitted to one of the two universities available in Hong Kong. Still, his father could afford to send him to the University of Minnesota in the United States of America.

Professionnal career
Bishop Chow felt that an important development during his years in college was his attraction to the altar and the sanctuary of the church. Although the parishioners in this American parish are not very welcoming to strangers, “I felt drawn to the altar every time I went to church and had the feeling deep down that it was. was where I needed to be, ”Bishop Chow recalled, adding,“ I couldn’t lie to myself. It was an important part of my vocation story, like my heart telling me where I should go.

He studied psychology and philosophy for his undergraduate degree in college because, deep in his heart, he believed that these streams would be useful to him in the future if he joined the seminary. He even approached a Jesuit community in the province of Wisconsin, inquiring about membership procedures. However, they asked him to apply to the Jesuit community in Hong Kong because he expressed his desire to work there. Although he had visited the Jesuit community in Hong Kong, he was still uncertain. Returning to the United States to complete his studies in 1983, Bishop Chow decided to address the Jesuits and wrote to the superior of Hong Kong. He was easily accepted.

Letting his parents and family know about his decision was the next hurdle. “I wrote the longest letter I have ever written in my life to my parents and to my siblings,” he said. For him, it was important to have the permission and blessing of his parents to join the seminary. Two weeks later, when he realized his father was going to talk to him on the phone, he rehearsed well and psychologically prepared for the conversation with the help of a friend and his wife.

Bishop Chow recalled the conversation as if it had been yesterday. “What is the weather there?” was his father’s first question. “Do you know why I called? To which he replied in the negative. “You are old enough to make your own decisions. Rationally, I can accept that [you will enter the seminary], although emotionally I don’t like your decision at all, “her dad said on the other end of the phone.” I wanted to kneel down and thank God because my dad’s approval was important to me. .

Concern for young people
His responsibility for schools for over a decade and the resulting association with young people aroused in him a particular interest in their concerns. “Shaking young people is not good. Young people want to be heard, they want us to listen to them, ”said the bishop. To be with young people, he identified two fundamental qualities: empathy and passive listening. Without empathy, you don’t understand a person. Empathy doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. “If you are empathetic you will be a little nicer,” he said.

In the Society of Jesus
Joining the Jesuits in Hong Kong, he was sent to Ireland for his training, where he spent four years in Dublin. He completed the novitiate and two years of license in philosophy with a thesis on Karl Marx. It was the time when liberation theology was in vogue. In 1988, he returned to Hong Kong to continue his theological training at Holy Spirit Seminary.

After completing his studies, he was ordained a deacon by Cardinal John Baptist Wu in 1993. His superiors enabled him to pursue his Masters in Organizational Development at Loyola University in Chicago before being ordained a priest by Cardinal Wu in 1995. During these formative years, Bishop Chow recognizes the amazing ways in which God has prepared him to work for him.

He was appointed chaplain and teacher at Wah Yan College. Although he had the opportunity to pursue his doctorate, he chose to stay with his students and support them during the uncertainties of 1997. Two years later, he returned to the United States to continue his doctoral studies. in Human Development and Psychology at Harvard University.

The experience in universities in the United States gave him the idea of ​​an ambitious project – a liberal arts college in Hong Kong. This discipline is not offered at universities in Hong Kong. “Our education system does not promote independent and critical thinking. Although the project had to be abandoned, it gave him visibility among his confreres in the Jesuit Province of China, which led to his subsequent election as provincial superior.

“In my 14 years as a school supervisor, I have faced many storms. But such controversies only made me stronger and thickened my skin, “noted the bishop, adding that these experiences had given him the conviction that” evil is self-destructive in the long run. What is important is that we do not join the evil, we beat it.

Recalling his mission at the two Wah Yan colleges, he said, “Integrity is the core value that makes the Church different in the world. People come to us not because we are shrewd as financiers or professionals, but because they still have hope that there is integrity in the Church. I’m not saying the Church is error-free, but many good lay people and pastors do their best to live up to what they believe in: the gospel. This is what I have strived for as a school principal: to educate our young men with values ​​and character.

Bishop Chow reflected on the amazing ways in which God has guided him over the years, noting:. And if I hadn’t become a provincial, the Vatican might not have noticed me.

Her vegetarian lifestyle is a testament to her compassion for people and nature. A cancer survivor himself, Bishop Chow has followed a strict vegetarian diet since 2005. While studying in Ireland, there was a lot of meat to eat. “The vegetables served on the table were considered ‘certified dead on arrival,’ he laughed. When he returned to Hong Kong in 1989, he stopped eating meat. Since 2005, even fish is no longer on its menu! “You look at a fish and the fish look at you. You feel compassion, how could you eat it? ” he asks.

Concern for young people
His responsibility for schools for over a decade and the resulting association with young people aroused in him a particular interest in their concerns. “Shaking young people is not good. Young people want to be heard, they want us to listen to them, ”said the bishop. To be with young people, he identified two fundamental qualities: empathy and passive listening. Without empathy, you don’t understand a person. Empathy doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. “If you are empathetic you will be a little nicer,” he said.

Bishop Chow envisions a practical approach to youth ministry. A highly philosophical or spiritual approach would be pointless but, at the same time, he does not agree with the idea of ​​having “your feet on the ground”. “If both of your feet are firm on the ground, you cannot move; you will be static. To move forward, you need the balance of one foot on the ground and the other in the air, ”he said.

“I want to encourage our young people to look ahead,” said Bishop Chow. He referred to the image of the giraffe in his coat of arms looking past the shield. “The future of the world and the future of the Church belong to the young. If you are not happy with the current situation, do not get stuck there. Instead, think about what you would like the world, Church, and Hong Kong to be 30 or 40 years from now? Then identify like-minded and like-minded people, and work together. Set a vision for the future and plan for it, ”he said.

“For example, the pandemic: it will not be with us forever. But we have to learn to live for each other and with each other. Are we helping the poor get immunized? If we don’t take care of the poor, the pandemic will continue to recur. We have to learn how to do it. The pandemic has taught us to love and care for each other, ”he said. – licasnews.com