Monday, January 6, 2014

The Undelivered Letter

Copied below is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to Sister Marie Ancilla Ouang 3 days ago:

Whenever we meet, Sister, we often talk about the Church and the Catholic faith. Here’s some faith-related news that might be of interest to you. During the Windsor CCC gathering last night, Virginia, the hostess, gave me a magazine published by the “Communion and Liberation” movement...In the magazine, the movement’s current president, Julián Carrón, commented on the recent terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall of Nairobi, Kenya: "The issue is whether or not you have met something that can stand up to the fallout of the terrorist attack. Do we have a certainty that can withstand this impact? The challenge is for a situation like this to be the occasion to grow in the certainty of Christ." Life is indeed full of uncertainties. For the followers of Christ, we have the only certainty that counts – the love of Christ. It can withstand even a terrorist attack. I know for you it can withstand this unfortunate accident too…

Since Sister Ouang had been hospitalized, I was unable to reach her. As a result, the letter had been sitting on my desk, undelivered. Never would I have guessed that this would be my last letter to her, and she would never read it.

Yes, life is full of uncertainties. While the news was unexpected and the loss of a good spiritual friend and mentor a heart-shattering and painful experience, it's good to know that Sister passed away peacefully in her sleep this morning. At this very moment, she's probably all smiles and resting comfortably in God's bosom because now she has the only certainty that counts - the love of Christ.

In witnessing to the Good News of Christ since my personal spiritual conversion, I often told people how Sister Ouang, an honest and straight shooter who minced no words, woke me up from my spiritual slumber by calling me a "cafeteria Catholic" during a family group meeting many years ago. Up until two months ago - the last time Sister and I met - I still thanked her for "straightening me out" because I considered her honesty a much needed wake-up call or medicine that God had prescribed to kick-start my personal spiritual conversion.

The Chinese Catholic community in Canada has experienced unbelievable trials and perils in the last year or so. Now through the communion of saints we know that in the court of heaven we have one more beautiful and righteous soul who will pray for us incessantly. As we mourn the loss of a faithful servant of God who loved the Church dearly, let's pray that Sister Ouang will chime in with the heavenly host of angels to bring peace and blessings to the Chinese Catholic community, particularly those in the GTA whom she had served with love and dedication for so many years.

*** EPILOGE *** (Added on March 2, 2014)

I had the honour of being one of Sister Ouang's pall-bearers in her funeral. On that frigid, bone-chilling day of January, in the austerity and simplicity of the Toronto winter that characterized so well the life of this distinguished servant of God, I joined Sister Ouang's family members and friends to bid her our last farewell as we huddled and shivered under a tent erected to provide the guests with temporary shelter. Together with a white carnation and the pall-bearer's gloves, I left on top of her casket the undelivered letter....