In conjunction with Father’s Day (19 June 2022), I would like to dedicate this article to my friend, Rev Fr Christopher James Lee, who passed away suddenly on 14 June 2022 during the Clergy Monthly Recollection at the Majodi Centre, Plentong, Johor.
Fr Christopher and I met way back in 1992, when we both attended vocation camps at the Church of St Francis Assisi in Cheras and at the College General in Penang. After a period of discernment, we both applied to join the seminary in 1993 and 1994 respectively but unfortunately, his application was rejected and mine was accepted in 1995. It took almost 10 years for Fr Christopher to be accepted into the seminary. He was sent to Beda College in Rome to study Theology by Bishop Paul Tan (Melaka-Johor Diocese). He was ordained as a priest in 2009. He never lost his zeal to fulfill God’s wish for him to become a priest.
When I was ministering at Church of the Visitation in Seremban, I would meet up with Fr Christopher, who often visited his mother who resided in Seremban. He would drop by the Parish office whenever he was in town and would accompany his mother to morning Mass during the weekdays. Occasionally, we would celebrate Mass together. When my tenure in Seremban was over, Fr Christopher and I would meet during our annual retreats and catch up on old times. Several years later, he furthered his studies in Canon Law at St Paul's University in Ottawa, Canada, together with Rev Fr William Michael.
Fr Christopher was a very soft-spoken, cool and cheerful priest. Like most of us, he went through struggles, obstacles and disappointments in his initial stage of discernment to the Priesthood, but he was a man of perseverance and determination - with deep faith and a strong spirit. His life and light have touched many people especially his Parishioners, and he is in our prayers today and always!
This Father’s Day, we also honour all fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers and spiritual Fathers who have great influence on our families and community. Often fathers are perceived as strong but silent, and many of us will surely have memorable stories of our fathers! I pray that each father here is a living example of prayerfulness and kindness, humbleness and gentleness, as they live their lives with integrity by placing God in the centre of their hearts and homes.
Some fathers may be stern and strict, but that doesn’t mean that they are bad fathers. It could merely be their way of educating and instilling a foundation of discipline and respect - to listen and obey with love. Whatever the case may be, all earthly fathers should strive to be like our heavenly Father, who is full of compassion and kindness towards all his children.
May the Lord bless all fathers, as they care for their families - give them strength, tenderness, patience and guidance to raise happy and joyful children. “Start children off on the way they should go and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
TO ALL FATHERS ─ THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND LOVING CARE,
ALL THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES. WISHING YOU A VERY BLESSED FATHER’S DAY!