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一位为亚洲教会奉献终身的玛利诺会传教士 A Maryknoll missionary who dedicated his life to the Church in Asia

—— 深切悼念我的好友乐耀星神父 Remembering my good friend Father Bob Astorino

2020-06-26 19:50:50 作者:张若翰 John Baptist Zhang 来源:信德网

(The English version is under the Chinese version)

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2010年乐耀星神父在石家庄


今日凌晨1:24,田明德神父(Tim, MM)从纽约玛利诺会院给我留言:“乐耀星神父(Bob Astorino, MM)今日在纽约的医院去世了。一如他前不久给我们说过的,他在准备离开这个世界,他说的没错……愿乐耀星神父今在天主的爱中享受平安和完全的喜乐!”

同日上午,王朋神父(Brian, MM)从吉林也告诉乐铎在纽约去世的消息,并给我提供了数张有关Bob的照片。与此同时,香港朋友也发来了乐铎去世的新闻。

乐铎是我生命中难得的好朋友!他与中国、中国文化及中国饮食有缘,在香港生活了大半辈子,生前曾多次来石家庄看望我和同事。他热爱中华文化,尊重、理解和热爱两岸三地的中华教会及人民。他总是同情、理解、体谅内地教会,倾听和尊重地方教会的声音。

乐铎虽然长我20多岁,但他视我如弟兄,一直理解、关心、支持、照顾我和我的追求及信德文字事业!他是值得我终生怀念、珍惜的好朋友、好兄长!

IMG_0683.JPG2005年3月18日,乐铎在石家庄

从1979年直到2019年离开香港,返回纽约,无论在职时还是退休后,他一直在用传媒和力所能及的方式服务和奉献(包括香港和大陆在内的)亚洲教会。他是亚洲主教协会、很多亚洲国家主教团传播委员会、很多亚洲主教们及地方教会的好朋友!他把自己的大半生都奉献给了亚洲教会和亚洲人民。他提出一切都要为亚洲教会的益处,同样也为中国教会的益处,亚洲教会的益处优先。因此,包括中国教会在内的亚洲教会不应忘记乐耀星神父及其同会神父和修士,还有玛利诺修女们。

当他查出癌症后,我曾数次赴港探视他,陪他一起海边走路。(其实因我喜欢走路,每次来了他就提出陪我一起去海边和周边走半天。)

自去年12月他返回纽约后,我们联系不方便了。他从不用手机及社交媒体,因为每周去洗肾,也越来越少用电邮了。

纽约发生疫情后,我非常担心他。后来田铎告诉我,乐铎安全,但每周还得去医院洗肾。5月初有一天,田铎告诉我一个好消息:乐铎从严格隔离和接受特别服务的一楼搬到二楼了。这意味着乐铎摆脱了新冠肺炎(Covid-19)的伤害。

前不久(北京时间5月18日),在田铎的预先联系协助联络下,当晚十点我终于拨通乐铎的房间的分机号。他在等我,聊了一会儿后,告诉我:“我在准备我最后的时间,准备去见天主了。”他说的非常平静,并请我代他向信德和进德的同事问好。我告诉他,为你祈祷加油!依靠主!把自己交托给主!我是无法赴美探视你了,但我们日后能在天乡再聚。

没想到这次通话竟成永别,乐铎还是等不及疫情过去就匆匆回归天上父家了!相信在天上再也没有病痛的折磨和疫情的袭击及人间的痛苦考验了,愿乐耀星神父在天乡安息父怀!

田铎还留言告诉我“乐铎的葬礼订于纽约时间6月30日星期二上午11点举行。”

疫情期间,无论远近亲朋,估计大多数人都无法前往纽约玛利诺会院小堂和墓地现场送乐铎最后一程了。我和乐铎的众多朋友将在地球的另一面亚洲追悼他、怀念他、为他献祭祈福!愿乐耀星神父安息天乡!

乐耀星神父在香港接待一批来访的美国修生。

Fr. Bob Astorino welcoming seminarians from the North American College in Rome 

at the living room of the former UCAN House in Hong Kong.


乐耀星神父为来访的一批美国修生分享。

Fr. Bob Astorino sharing with some seminarians of the North American College from Rome in Hong Kong. 

照片提供:王朋(Photos: Brian Barrons, MM ) 


A Maryknoll missionary who dedicated his life to the Church in Asia

Remembering my good friend Father Bob Astorino, MM

 

At 1:24 a.m. today, Father Timothy Kilkelly, MM left me a message from the Maryknoll Society in New York: "Bob died today at a Hospital in New York. As he told us a short time ago, he was preparing to leave the world, and he was right... May Father Bob enjoy peace and total joy in God's love today!" 

 

Father Brian Barrons, MM also informed me of Bob’s death from Jilin on the same morning and provided me with several photos of Bob. At the same time, friends in Hong Kong also sent news of his death.  

 

Father Robert Astorino, MM was a cherished good friend in my life! He had a strong relationship with China, Chinese culture and Chinese food, has lived in Hong Kong for most of his life, and had visited me and my colleagues in Shijiazhuang many times over the years. He loved Chinese culture, respected, understood and loved the Church in China and all the people in the three places on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. He always sympathized and understood the Church on the Mainland, and listened to and respected the voice of the local Church. 

 

Although Bob was 21 years older than me, he took me as a younger brother, always understanding, caring for, supporting, taking care of me and my pursuits, including the  Church media work and social service which I have been involved! He will always be my elder brother to be remembered and cherished for the rest of my life.

 

From 1979 until he left Hong Kong to return to US in 2019, he served and was dedicated to the Asian Church (including the Church in Hong Kong and mainland) in the field of news media with all his heart. He was a good friend of the FABC, the Communications Committee of many Asian Bishops’ Conferences, and of many Asian bishops and local Churches! He devoted most of his life to the Asian Church and the people of Asia. He suggested that everything should be for the benefit of the Asian Church, particularly for the benefit of the Church in China. He put the benefits of the Asian Church first. Therefore, the Asian Church including the Catholic Church in China,should not forget Father Robert Astorino, MM and his community, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers as well as the Maryknoll Sisters. 

 

When he was diagnosed with cancer, I visited him several times in Hong Kong and walked with him by the sea. (Actually, because I like to walk, every time I came he offered to accompany me to the seaside for about half a day.)

 

Since he returned to New York last December, it became a little inconvenient to keep in touch. He never used a cell phone or social media. Because he had to do dialysis every week he also used email less and less. 

 

I was very worried about him after the Covid-19 outbreak in New York. Later, Tim told me that Bob was safe, but had to go to the hospital every week to have his dialysis done. One day in early May, Tim told me the good news: Bob moved from the second floor, strictly segregated and specially managed, to the third floor. This meant Bob was free of the danger of Covid-19. 

 

Not long ago (May 18, Beijing time), with Tim's assistance, I finally dialed Bob's room extension at 10 p.m. that night. He waited for my call, we chatted for a while, and then he told me, "I'm preparing for my last moment, ready to see God." He spoke very calmly and asked me to say hello to his friends at Faith Press and Jinde Charities on his behalf. I told him: “I was praying for you, and I have to entrust you to the Lord! I can't visit you in the United States, but we can meet again in heaven in the future.”

 

I didn't expect this call was the last one. Bob couldn’t wait till the epidemic was over before going back to the heavenly home in a hurry. I believe that there is no more pain in the heaven, nor attack by the virus and the human suffering. 

 

Tim also left a message telling me that "Bob's funeral is scheduled for Tuesday, June 30, at 11 a.m. New York time." 

 

During the outbreak of epidemic, not many people, including his close relatives and friends, are able to make their trip to the Maryknoll chapel and Cemetery in New York to see him off for the last time. Many of Bob's friends and I will pay tribute to him, miss him, and pray for him here in Asia on the other side of the globe! May Bob rest in peace in Heaven!

(June 26, 2020)


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