Friday, May 23, 2008

Father Holung - Bethlehem - Kingston, Jamaica

HOLUNG... life can be simple yet very rich

Monday, December 13, 2004
Jean Lowrie-Chin

It's Christmas, so let's visit "Bethlehem" - this one is at 36 Highholborn Street in downtown Kingston, where eight year-olds are still crib-sized. Oh little ones of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie, staring into space with beautiful eyes.

Next door is The Lord's Place, where HIV/AIDS patients sit in a dignified courtyard, nodding their welcome. Their serenity reflects the words of philosopher Teilhard de Chardin: "We are not human beings on a spiritual journey: we are spiritual beings on a human journey." Will we have to test positive before we become positively convinced?

A fit-looking Father HoLung (a year after heart surgery) comes out to greet me, and I remember the very first article I wrote as a rookie reporter for Clive Fung's "Pagoda" magazine. It was about a young scholastic named Richard HoLung, then studying to be a Jesuit and teaching at St George's College.

I ended up being a stagehand for his Jamaican version of Antoine de Saint Exupéry's "Little Prince" where he stayed true to its theme even as he blended it with Louise Bennett's poetry and Broadway songs.

"What is important is invisible to the eye," the Little Prince had declared, and I felt the fleeting fame of headliners evaporate in the quiet garden of the monastery. Father HoLung recounts the growth of his Order from three priests (including Trinidadian Father Hayden Augustine and Jamaican Father Brian Kerr) in 1981, to 328 today who serve hundreds here, in Haiti, the Philippines, Uganda and India.


I journey back to my dizzy day, but cannot forget the babies of Bethlehem. Nothing wrong with being busy, I remind myself, as long we are earning to help the helpless.

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