Transcript (ipsissima verba) of Fr. Dr. Michael Teng’s Ordination Speech on 23rd June 1999.
This would be helpful since the original video recording could not be improved, even with state-of-the-art technology, because the sound track was too embedded and could not be separated from the visual, to refine audio quality.
(Thank you for your presence and participation at today’s Ordination Ceremony).
I have a small piece of paper.
I have been a deacon for so long, I was beginning to feel like a permanent one. I thank you all, including the Bishop, including the Bishop, for coming. I thank God for making this possible, for holding out this possibility and for making this happen.
Thirty years ago, during the May 13th incident, I was nine years old, and I was in Church, not in the Church building, but in the cook’s residence. The family thought it was safer for me, since it was in town, it was Church compound, and it was opposite the Royal Residence, at the old CIC Church. I used to go the Parish House, and walk up and down the steps. I imagine I may be there one day, walking up and down the steps.
When I was in College, every morning, almost every morning, you have to go up flights of steps at 5.45 in the morning. It makes you think twice whether you want to do this kind of thing for the rest of your life. But every time I look back to this snese of the parish house, I am encouraged.
Can you imagine, one of those holidays, I came back and I went to Church, but I did not see even the Parish House building because it was no longer there. It’s like, I was told there are many rooms in my Father’s house; but now, even the house is not there.
The other incident or experience that may have contributed to my vocation was I remember when my father passed away. We had a memorial Mass the following day after the burial. My widowed mother gave me $20 for the priest. I was saying to myself, “This widow has given her two coins..and I am half an orphan. At that time, I considered myself poor. I was thinking to myself, that is $10 in excess, it should go to the poor, namely, myself. So, I thought, the other way of getting at the money, is to be a priest. And from today onwards, I shall start collecting my stipend.
I want to thank the Gabrielite Brothers for my early education and formation. I still remember two lines: one is from the founder, St Louis Marie de Montfort. He said, “If you are not persecuted for the sake of the Gospel, could it be that you are not living the Gospel?” And that left a deep impression on me. The other line is found in the Constitution, that goes: “If you find that no one comes to join your ranks, search your hearts”. I remember that all these years. And I want to thank one of these brothers in particular, who has passed on, Bro Evariste, who was with Fr. Paliere at that time at Montfort Boys’ Town when I was there. From Bro. Evariste, I learned to pray while watching TV.. This man will be praying in his room, before he comes to the TV room. When he’s watching TV, you sense that he is praying. You can be sure that when he leaves the TV room, he will go back to his room and continue with his prayer. From him, I also learned to pray with my eyes open.
If I may summarize in a sentence, what has become of me today, I would say, my anticipation or premonition of my own death has make me into something of a philosopher; my sister’s polio and my father’s dying of cancer- the loss and pain it caused, has made me into something of a theologian; it is the death and rising and the coming again of JC who has made me into something of a Christian.
My life seems to take a crucial significant change (dramatic turn) every 10 years – when I was 9; when I was 19, when my dad passed away; and when I was 29, when I inflicted myself on the minor seminary in Melaka. We started with thirteen, and when we finished, we were down to four – two had died.
And if I may mention an anecdote of my College General days -I had a pair of blue jeans and a blue towel when I first went into the seminary. When I finished, they had both turned off-white. Can you imagine the amount of bleaching and purification that is going on in the seminary?
Some of you have already received our souvenir. I have chosen the Face of Jesus Christ, among others. It is the Face of God that we are seeking; and as Christians, Jesus Christ is as near as we can come, to the Face of God. In my life and ministry, I will be trying to seek the Face of God among us.
These are some of the experiences that has contributed to the first part of the theme (“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will endure,” Jn. 15:16) – my reasons, my motivations, for asking to be ordained a minister. As for the other part, God choosing us – for the reasons, you will have to ask Him yourself. I have asked him myself, but I did not get any clear cut, unequivocal answer – it may come later.
But I believe that part of the answer is to be found in the Gospels.
I thank you again, for coming.
Some have said that I will show my true colors after my ordination – I hope that they are the Colors of Christ. God bless.