Sunday, 11 September 2011

FATHER HOLUNG’s GRATITUDE: Priest and missionaries to receive prestigious Gusi Peace prize

HOPE & GRACE: “I’m humbled because all the work we have been able to do have been through the kindness of people,” says Father HoLung.

That Father Richard HoLung and the Missionaries of the Poor continue to attract international acknowledgement for the selfless service and sacrifice they provide for the downtrodden is a testament to the their efforts to unfailingly inspire and challenge. As they fine-tune preparations for their latest blockbuster stage musical – Acts of the Apostles – it has been revealed that the missionaries are among this year’s recipients of the prestigious Gusi Peace Award, based in the Philippines. The Gusi Prize, presented annually, is the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize. “It’s really the brothers’ award – and for all the people who support our work,” Father HoLung says meekly via telephone.

In addition to Jamaica, the Missionaries of the Poor (now its 30th year) serve the sick and destitute in 12 other countries, including India, Kenya, Uganda and the Philippines.

The Web site for the Gusi Peace Prize, a charitable foundation, informs that it “represents one of the highest honours for distinguished individuals from the four corners of the globe. In recognizing the most brilliant examples of those working toward the attainment of peace and respect for human life and dignity, the Gusi Peace Prize brings out the best of human achievements, ideals and values.” Past laureates include Jamaica’s own Arnold Foote, who was recognized in 2010.

As with all the accolades the missionaries have collected in the past, HoLung says the gesture is equally humbling and awe-inspiring. “I’m humbled because all the work we have been able to do have been through the kindness of people,” he says, “We’ve been recognized for the work, and it feels good.”

The priest – who turns 72 next Saturday – and a team will set off for Manila to receive the prize, which will be presented on November 24.

Father HoLung is also anticipating the world premiere of Acts of the Apostles, a major fundraising initiative for MOP set to open at the National Arena Oct. 1. “It’s been tremendous,” he says of the groundwork and polishing that is still ongoing. “It’s a mix of the Biblical story of the disciples after Jesus and the persecution they endured. It’s a combination of opera, reggae, calypso, and revival among other Caribbean-style musical genres.”

Why this particular Biblical story? “Because of the tremendous courage and enormous surrender [the disciples] demonstrated, and how much they loved the poor.”

STORY: Acts of the Apostles launched in New Kingston

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