Till Christ Is Formed…

“The rich man replied, “Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my rich father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment…..” (Lk 16:29).

As I reflect on this passage of this Sunday’s gospel reading (Luke 1: 19-31), I reminiscent on the loss of our dear priests and religious recently.

This year alone we have lost Frs Henriot, Phillips Muthu and Peter Kim from our KL Archdiocese and Fr Richard Khoo from the Kuching Archdiocese. Not to forget, Sr Teresa Chong (Carmelite) and many others.

These wonderful men and women have given up much of their lives pastoring to our needs, journeying with us and guiding us. They are truly God Sent!

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Rev Fr. Peter Kim SJ (Returned to the Lord 23-09-2016)
They have dedicated their lives to us so that we can be led to salvation, “warning” us at all times to follow the right path and ensuring that we “do not come to the place of torment”. They take care of the needs of thousands. Attending to emergencies, such as, hospital visits and home visits at odd hours of a day to anoint the sick. In addition they are needed at funerals, weddings, baptisms and administering of other sacraments. We look to them for counselling, advice and assistance. They then switch roles to look into the needs of the parish, from plumbing, electricity, brick and mortar matters to finances, staff and administrative issues of the parish. They are there providing retreats, seminars and sessions for the young, matured and elderly. They deal with people of all ages and all walks of life. They work untiringly and at times 24 -7. They run a tight shift!

In the commercial world they would be rewarded with a good salary package with great allowances, for their work and dedication to their job. But in doing all these and much more, they do not seek any remuneration or reward. Yet, they do so generously. Giving freely. Many would pay substantially to attend, say a Stephen Covey or Jack Ma seminar or sessions, but when it comes to our priests and religious, we tend to impose a different standard.

We, as the laity sometimes have been incorrigible in our demands. We have high expectations of them. But, I sometimes wonder if we have reciprocated sufficiently to our priest and religious especially in times of their needs, sickness or even at their demise.

This brings me to the original intention of this article, the passing of Father Peter Kim, a priest of almost 48 years.

I grew up much in my teenage life with Fr. Peter Kim who was then a parish priest at the Church of St. Francis Xavier, Petaling Jaya (SFX). As an altar server, I used to engage with him regularly. He was a man of few words but a great listener. His few words would alter my course of understanding and appreciation of not just my faith but life. His constant nurturing and advice continued whilst I was overseas pursuing my studies, which was both inspirational and appeasing. Over time, I lost contact with him but the times he was back in SFX, he will always make himself available for a quick get together and/or chat. Only this year as I celebrated my birthday with Fr. Peter and my good friend Nicholas, Nicholas remarked that we will have to meet again for Fr. Peter’s birthday.

My last encounter with him was a few weeks back, when I pounced on him with some friends who came from overseas, former parishioners of SFX. We had tea at his place and went through some old pictures and spoke of the past. He suggested that I should take copies of these old photos and said he could burn a set onto a CD. My only reply was that we could do this another time.

His birthday came but I was overwhelmed with work and other matters that I thought I will have time to celebrate his birthday in the later part of this month. Sadly, this was not to be.

I have lost not only a priest, but much more, a friend, a brother and a fatherly figure. I am sure, there are many who would share the same sentiments as I have.

C S Lewis the author of Chronicles of Narnia series, in his book, The Problem of Pain had said,

“We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest “well pleased”."

Fr Peter has given so much of his love to all and sundry. I am certain he has become the object where Divine love has rested.

Farewell, dear Father Peter until we meet again.

Joy Appukuttan

NB: “Till Christ is Formed” is Fr Peter’s blog https://tillchrist.wordpress.com/

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