Fr. Peter Zhang Xue Lei’s Ordination
Priesthood is a great blessing to the Church. I was so happy when I came to know that my classmate, Rev. Peter Zhang Xue Lei then, was going to be ordained to the order of presbyters. Not only because we are friends but because I knew that he would be a gift to the people of God. Both of us were assigned in the same parish during his diaconal program. Often times, whenever people would give him stipend he would secretly channel it to me. He told me that it is the deacon’s duty to distribute the goods of the church to the poor. So he would task me to give it to those who are in need. And I, as the pastoral worker, would be glad to accomplish it for him. On several occasions I would look for him and he was nowhere to be found in the parish convent. I thought he was somewhere else doing something. But I discovered that whenever he’s missing he was just in the topmost floor of the rectory, facing the horizon and meditating. That’s why I have come to know Rev. Peter as a deep spiritual person.
The ordination of Rev. Peter took place in China. And I had the great opportunity to witness this wonderful occasion through God’s generosity. Rev. Peter, Fr. Tony Olaguer and the parishioners of Immaculate Conception Damar sponsored my trip. There were 25 Filipino delegates. The LRMS priests who joined were Msgr. Bong Lo, Fr. Manny Regalado, Fr. Garry Fuentebella, Fr. Johny Molina, Fr. Junerl Salugsugan, Fr. Lloyd Tio and Fr. Tony Olaguer. We arrived in the Diocese of Jing Xian a day before the ordination. The 73 year old diocese is located in He Bei Province which is in the Northern part of China. It was an exciting trip for me since the place is the home diocese of many of our alumni Chinese priests and seminarians. After a 4-hour trip from Bei Jing, Rev. Peter and our Chinese brother seminarians (Martin Cui, Andrew Wu, Peter Xu and Peter Zhang Wei Yi) welcomed us in our hotel accommodation in Jing Xian. All of us were in great joy to see each other. In a country were Catholicism is a minority, the feeling to be with people who have the same belief and “Beloved” as ours is entirely different. I was almost into tears when I saw Rev. Peter and my Chinese brothers. We were also met by some of our alumni namely Fr. Paul Su, Fr. John Xue and Bro. Francis Li. In the evening, we had a special dinner together with the family, relatives and friends of Rev. Peter. The ordaining prelate, who’s also our alumnus, Most Rev. Peter Feng Xin Mao was also there to celebrate with us. At meal time, we experienced the abundance of food and drinks. It was an authentic Chinese Lauriat! After the feasting we went back to our accommodation to rest. But before retiring some of us gathered together in one room to say our prayers for Rev. Peter. Then, at long last the day of ordination came. It was on the early morning of the 25th of April. The celebration began at half past 6 o’ clock. The church was filled with people. As the choir began to sing majestically, the servers led the procession going to the altar. Then, they were followed by the religious sisters coming from different congregations. Came next were more than 80 concelebrating priests. Our alumni priests were also there to give their support to Rev. Peter namely, Fr. Joseph Xu, Fr. Peter Song, Fr. James Min, and of course, Frs. Paul Su and John Xue. Finally, together with Bishop Peter Feng, Rev. Peter walked along the aisle. It was obvious that he could hardly contain the joy in his heart. Joined with 4 other ordinandi, he wore a smile as he processed going towards the sanctuary. A red stole hang from his shoulder to waist, a symbol of martyrdom of which he is called to. During the presentation of candidates Rev. Peter was the most applauded. The Filipino delegates did it for him. When Bishop Peter Feng began to preach his charisma filled the church with a spirit of joy. And he moved both the ordinadi and the congregation with gratitude to the gift of priesthood. As the rite was solemnly realized, the family and relatives of Rev. Peter became emotional. Accompanied by the singing of the Litany of Saints, Rev. Peter prostrated himself before the altar. While kneeling down I could already feel the hairs on my arm rising. It has always been a touching part for me in every ordination I attended. Later, the Bishop rose and laid his hands on each of the elect. After a brief moment, the concelebrants began to move and each laid their hands too. The whole congregation was in total silence. After the prayer of ordination, the newly ordained priests wore their vestments while their parents assisted them. Then, the bishop consecrated the hands of Rev. Peter with holy oil. In a while, the paten with bread and the chalice with wine were given to each of them as a reminder to the sacrifice they would be offering as presbyters. Finally, the bishop stood up and welcomed each of them with a reverent embrace. And all of us began to cheer and clap our hands for Fr. Peter Zhang Xue Lei! The rest of the concelebrants approached the five priests and embraced them. Meanwhile, the congregation continued to applaud and sing songs of praise. It was a heartwarming experience for us foreign delegates. Our hearts were filled with joy both for the Church in China and in the Philippines. However, the most touching part was during the Thanksgiving Mass of Fr. Peter which was just a few hours after the ordination. It was also held that same morning in the cathedral. In his thanksgiving speech, he gave prominence on the presence of God in his life. He described how God reared him silently from the country side, to Tian Jin and eventually in the Philippines. He spoke about his awe on the mysterious growth of vocation. And he expressed how overwhelmed he was with the love of God, his family, his relatives and the Church. From time to time his voice would crack and be interrupted with tears of joy. All of us who attended the Mass were very much moved by his sincerity.
Having seen and experienced this meaningful event I was enlightened by God’s goodness to His Church. I feel more inspired to do mission in China and urged to become part of God’s work of salvation. I hope and pray that someday I too will become a holy priest for the Lord and His people.
Bro. Caloy MF Carcellar