Published by St. Benedict Press, 2013, Charlotte, NC 28241 259 pages
“Thank You, Joseph Pearce”. In an age where the priesthood is constantly under attack, you have given us the story of a present-day priest who is so filled with an unconditional love for the poorest of the poor, the handicapped, the mentally challenged and the unborn that this love has already changed the world in the darkest of places. When I finished reading this book I closed it and simply stared at the picture of the man on the book jacket. I had never heard of him and here I was, suddenly transfixed by the gentle, Christ filled face looking back at me.
Father Ho-Lung and his missionaries work in the most disgusting, filthy, squalid and unclean places imaginable, caring for weakest and most vulnerable of God’s creations. Father Ho-Lung and his followers have given away all their personal belongings, taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, put smiles on their faces and followed their motto, “Joyful Service with Christ on the Cross”.
Richard Ho-Lung’s parents came to Jamaica from China in the mid 1930s. Richard was born in 1939. His parents were Buddhists, and, in his formative years, Richard was raised Buddhist. His mother taught him to respect the earth and all of the wonders of nature. His father had an affinity for the poor and taught Richard to “never forget the poor people of Jamaica, no matter what”. That sense of caring by his father has stayed with Father Richard his entire life.
If “less is more” I must pull in the reins on this review. There is so much in this book that will inspire you. For example, Father Ho-Lung is called the “reggae priest” because he wrote hit songs that topped the music charts and even rivaled the greatest “reggae” musician of all time, Bob Marley. Father Ho-Lung developed the “Caribbean Mass” with his cultural music and to this day writes music that is used to raise money for his order, the Missionaries of the Poor.
I would love to see this book read, or at least referenced, in all Catholic High-schools. I would love all young people to know of this man, whom some have dubbed “The 21st Century Mother Theresa”. Father Richard Ho-Lung has been called the ‘reggae priest”, the “renegade priest”, the “dancing priest” and the “fiery priest”. However, Father’s favorite title is that of “ghetto priest”. That is where he works, where he lives and where he will die.
Please consider getting this book. It chronicles the life of a simple man, his conversion from Buddhism to Catholicism, his improbable ordination as a Jesuit priest, his hand-in-hand walk with Pope John Paul II to the sanctuary when the Holy Father visited Jamaica in 1993, his founding of the Missionaries of the Poor who today number over 500 members from 13 countries. (In 2011 the Missionaries of the Poor Sisters were formed.)
Father Richard Ho-Lung: lover of the downtrodden, the ill and the handicapped; lover of the beggars and peasants and a bellowing voice for the unborn; Father Richard Ho-Lung, who has fought the crime, poverty and injustice that permeates the filthy ghettos of Jamaica; Father Richard Ho-Lung who sat on the floor with Mother Theresa, just talking, when she visited Jamaica. Both she and Pope John Paul II have been declared “BLESSED” by the church. One day I believe that Father Ho-Lung will join their ranks. Seeing how Christ’s love is amongst us through his priesthood bolsters our faith and reinforces our resolve to fight and defend this faith we have been gifted with.
To the author, Joseph Pearce, once again—Thank you, nicely done.