Sydney’s Chinese Catholics hope seminarian Cronan Yu is the first of many

Eveline Chen with Cronan Yu and Wai Po. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

When the powerhouse Chinese Catholic Community Inc answered Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP’s call to empower future clergy through sponsorship, little did they know they would be answering their own prayers. 

“We’ve been praying for more Cantonese speaking priests in Sydney,” said Eveline Chen, the 85-year-old matriarch of Catholic Chinese in Sydney and a major donor to the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Seminarian Scholarship Project. 

Thanks to her generosity and the many benefactors from Chinese Catholic Community Inc (CCCI), those prayers have been answered as Cronan Yu, a 28-year-old Chinese Australian from Sydney’s west, realises his dreams of becoming a priest.  

“When we heard about this opportunity to support future clergy through the scholarship program, at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd, we were happy to donate. The fact Cronan is Australian-Chinese is just extra special for us,” said Eveline whose husband, the late Hudson Chen OAM, founded CCCI in 1982. 

On Sunday 16 June, a sense of hope and renewal filled the church of St Kevin’s in Eastwood as members of the CCCI gathered for a Mass and luncheon to hear Cronan, currently in his third year at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd, speak about his pathway into the seminary and his gratitude for their generous donations, which made it possible.  

“The Chinese community has been a big part of my vocational story,” said Cronan. 

Chinese Catholic Community - The Catholic Weekly
Conan Yu. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

“And this feels like home to be among all the aunties and uncles I grew up around. I just want to do God’s work and serve this community.  

“I remember in my youth there was always a constant struggle because of the language barrier, to find a priest who could relate to the community and serve their pastoral needs.  

“We have a couple here who have done their bit for the church, and I can’t wait to do mine.”  

For Wai Pon, President of the Chinese Catholic Community Inc (CCCI), Cronan promises a fresh new energy and perspective for their congregation and the Catholic community at large.  

New seminarians like Cronan will enrich the community’s faith and church experience. In the past, we have had to reach out to Hong Kong to send us priests to lead retreats and camps. Now, hopefully, when Cronan finishes his study, we won’t need to!” 

But for Wai, their support of the seminarian program isn’t just about bridging the language barrier.   

“Cronan is unique because we know he has a strong Chinese background, but he also grew up in the suburbs of Australia and understands the culture,” Wai said.  

“He becomes a bridge for the community because he is born in both eastern and western culture.” 

After the uplifting Mass, the church hall filled with the aroma of traditional Chinese dishes, symbolising the fusion of culture and faith. 

From the corner of the hall, CCCI Youth leader, Harold Pon, watched on proudly.  

Photo: Alphonsus Fok

“I grew up with Cronan. For second generation Chinese like Cronan and I, we always have had this balancing act to navigate. And it’s very rare for people like Cronan with eastern background in western society to answer the call to the priesthood. It’s a big day for us!” said the CCC Youth Leader. 

Joining the festivities was Richard Allcock from the archdiocese of Sydney’s Development and Fundraising Office, who initially invited CCCI to get involved with the Scholarship Program, something he started in 2020 as a means of addressing the shortage of priests in the church. 

This marks the first time CCCI have supported a seminarian for the full scholarship term of seven years. 

“It is so crucial to support Good Shepherd Rector Fr Michael de Stoop and all the seminarians who are faithfully committing their lives to serve God and the Holy Catholic Church,” Richard said.  

“Simply put: no seminarians, no priests; no priests, no Catholic Church.”  

Cronan praised the many Chinese Catholics whose generosity—regardless of their own financial situations—made his formation possible. 

“They might struggle to make ends meet, but because of their love of God and priests – they’re very generous,” he said. 

I don’t feel pressure. I feel a great sense of privilege and freedom to serve my community and the wider Catholic community. I hope I’m the first of many.” 

Learn more about the SSP (Seminarian Scholarship Program) by contacting Richard Allcock at [email protected] or by phone: +61 2 9307 8443. 

The post Sydney’s Chinese Catholics hope seminarian Cronan Yu is the first of many appeared first on The Catholic Weekly.

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