I have been asked to say a few words about our Padre, Reverend Father Simon Yong who had been with SFX for the past 10 years. I had been with him for the most of the past 10 years. I remember sitting with him at the Parish Pastoral Council in the early 2004 when he was assistant parish priest to Father Larry SJ. I was then a quiet member of the PPC and observe that Padre was quite fidgety, impatient and seem to want the meetings to finish early. Then in late 2005, I received a call one morning from Padre. He asked whether I was standing or sitting in my office. I said standing and he then ask me to sit down. He went on to tell me that he wanted me to take up the post of PPC Chairperson as my predecessor, Myra Thong had to step down urgently due to her parents illness and the need to care for them.
My initial reaction was " Cannot; why me, there sre so many more qualified than me" After some persuasion, I said I will be a temporary chairperson until he finds some one more capable and suitable for this job.Needless to say this temporary posting lasted more than 7 years. He was agreat leader who listened to us and then go on to make his decisions after consultation.
I lasted because Padre was a man of the people. He was always willing to help and I do remember visiting some of the patients with him when I requested him to do so. He made us the PPC members worked as a team when he got us together to embark on a trip to Pulau Ketam, just to spend time together sitting in a car, train and a boat to get to our destination for our lunch.
Subsequently he made us go as a team for our annual retreat in Maranatha. We really got to know ourselves better having both prayers, silent moments as well as social exchanges during the evenig dinner and supper. Why I can still hear the laughter that went out hearing each other tell our jokes, especailly when max Yong held the floor.
Somehow his magic and his leadership allowed us to work strongly together and the members especially the Heads of the 4 Parish Commissions worked very hard in their various areas, so much so that all I need was to ask and the job was done superbly.
Thank you to the other members who worked equally hard, be it for the Family Day, Annual Parish Assemblies or the various liturgical celebrations in SFX Church.
I digress, most of you know Padre as a hardworking priest with quite high standards in his homilies. I am quite used to see see the congregation nods their heads when he is speaking ie when I am not asleep. Most of the time I close my eyes to listen intently but sometimes it can turn into a deep meditation. Padre had been a very kind person to me, due to his confidence in me, I am now able to talk to you in front of so many pair of eyes. Yes he had helped me faced the audience, althoug I am basically a shy person. Padre is at most times very approachable and I have heard comments like I want him to do our wedding mass because I like him very much. He is thus a very likeable person.
We the pilgrims of 2006 and 2010 had the opportuinity to travel over Spain, Vatican, City, Lourdes in France and Eastern Europe. We saw for ourselves his caring attitude. He said Mass every day and in the coach he served us with tid bits, towels to wipe our faces etc. In short he showed his humilty and love towards us all. That Group had now become part of his extended family.