Rev. Fr. Simon Yong, SJ

10th Parish Priest: 2003-2012
Asst. Parish Priest: 2002-2003

“Does that make sense?”

Many will recognise Fr. Simon’s favourite catchphrase. Often repeated tongue-in-cheek by SFX parishioners, it reveals how much he has endeared himself to us. He has given parishioners glimpses into his personal life through his homilies. It has been a life grounded in faith despite much adversity.

Growing up poor on a farm, he would pray the rosary as he walked the fields with his dog, Angel. Meals were to be treasured. To have water, a basic need, he carried buckets of water as a child from a well. This would eventually cause him much pain and numbness on the right side of his body leading eventually to server Cervical Spondylosis.

And yet, his joy and rambunctious laughter which often dominate Parish events belies his medical condition. Ever present at meetings and functions from beginning to end, Fr Simon would sometimes appear wearing a neck brace and lumbar support. Early on in his tenure, parishioners were tickled by the sign of him walking Rover his dog. Later, this love for animals led to the Mass for Animals Lovers’ and their pets.

Upon his return from the GJ Medical Pilgrimage to Lourdes, of which his own mother had been a pilgrim, a poignant sharing ensued. Fr. Simon spoke of finally come to terms with her mental health and the acceptance of God’s will. It is through such moments that Fr. Simon has touched the hearts of parishioners who have been in similar helpless situations.

Often swamped with work during celebrations such as Chinese New Year, Christmas and Easter – his family would come inconspicuously to SFX to be with him. But even the, he often sacrificed family time when the inevitable call came to attend to an anointing or counselling session. His family understood his love for the Parish.

Suc is Fr. Simon’s gratitude towards those who have supported him and SFX that time is spent painstakingly writing thank you notes to them. Visitors to his office have been known to be personally served coffee and biscuits. At times, hungry guests were also treated to microwaved “Korean noodles and pork luncheon meat” at the office pantry.

With the young, like the altar servers – their affection for Fr. Simon is wonderfully palpable. Boisterous laughter can often be heard erupting from the boys hanging out with their “Padre” at the Parish Office. Ever aware of the need to catechise “the boys”, each server now owns a cassock to encourage their commitment to the Mass.

It has been eleven years since his ordination at Church of St. Francis Xavier. Back then, Fr. Simon possessed a shock of thick black hair. He began his tenure as Assistant Parish Priest (2001) before taking over as Parish Priest (2003). In the years before Fr. Albert’s arrival – Sunday masses were celebrated back to back by him, and homilies were composed into the early morning due to a hectic schedule of office meetings and pastoral matters. A Saturday could be filled with couple counselling, two weddings, a funeral, a house blessings and of course, Sunset Mass...

Passionate about moving parishioners from “knowing of God” to “knowing God intimately”, his vision has been to guide each one towards a better understanding of “scared space” i.e. a reverential atmosphere conducive to an encounter with God. The extensive renovation of the Church interior has been part of that vision.

It would be easy to numerate this contributions to the faith life of SFX – the Monday Morning Mass, Novena of Grace to SFX and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the new Chapel but the blessing of Fr. Simon to SFX has been more than what the eye perceives.

On 8th January 2012, grey-haired but still joyful –Fr Simon leaves SFX parish that will always love him.

[Source: Church of St. Francis Xavier - 50th Golden Jubilee Anniversary Book]