Top officials join Hong Kong Catholics in packed cathedral for Bishop Michael Yeung’s funeral mass
- Late reverend to be buried at St Michael’s Catholic Cemetery in Happy Valley
Hong Kong’s top leaders streamed into a packed cathedral for Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung’s funeral mass on Friday morning, before the late reverend was to be buried in a cemetery in Happy Valley.
After a vigil mass presided over by Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and an overnight mass that began on Thursday evening, the funeral mass commenced in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Mid-Levels at 10am on Friday, presided over by the diocese’s acting head, Bishop John Tong Hon.
“He paid great attention to the young people, and for two years in a row decided that the younger generation should be the top priority of pastoral work,” said Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, in his homily.
He recalled that Yeung announced in his inaugural mass in 2017 that the Catholic Church should help reconcile social conflicts in Hong Kong.
Ha said that Yeung was most troubled by criticism over his comments on various social controversies, but he never spared any effort to “answer the calling of God’s love”.
More than half a dozen senior officials, all dressed in black, arrived at the cathedral at about 9.40am. The building was full of worshippers, with those who did not get a seat standing in the aisles.
Those attending included Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah and Bernard Chan, convenor of the Executive Council.
Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei, wife of former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, was also present.
The officials walked down the central aisle to Yeung’s open coffin and paid their last respects to the former leader of the city’s 394,000 Catholics.
In his opening remarks for the mass, Tong thanked the leaders of different social sectors, the government officials and diplomats for their attendance and condolences.
“May God reward you abundantly for your thoughtfulness,” he said.
“Bishop Yeung’s motto is ‘Arise, let us go forth from here.’ He had been doing so as our bishop,” Ha said.
Yeung’s niece said in her eulogy that the bishop had been extraordinarily diligent and modest.
“I once told him to rest more as he was already a powerful leader with a team that could help with his work. But he said in response that power entailed duties, and that those capable might not be powerful while the powerful might not be capable,” she said.
Yeung’s hearse left the cathedral at about noon for St Michael’s Cemetery in Happy Valley, with wreaths from his family and the diocese.
His grave is next to that of Cardinal John Wu Cheng-chung, the fifth bishop of the local diocese and the first cardinal from Hong Kong.
The late reverend died in hospital from liver failure last Thursday at the age of 73, ending his 17-month tenure as leader of the local Catholic diocese – the second-shortest tenure after that of Peter Lei Wang-kei, who died in July 1974, seven months after being appointed.
The Vatican announced on Monday it would appoint retired bishop Tong – Yeung’s predecessor – as the diocese’s acting head, or “apostolic administrator”. This broke with past practice in Hong Kong and the rest of Asia, where younger candidates, judged more capable of handling crises, are generally preferred.
The move sparked speculation that the Vatican was – for political reasons – blocking Ha, who had expressed sympathy with pro-democracy Occupy protesters, from becoming the leader of Hong Kong’s Catholics.
Beijing and the Vatican reached a historic agreement in September on the appointment of bishops in mainland China, paving the way for rapprochement between the central government and the Holy See, which cut diplomatic ties in 1951.