By Joseph M. C. Kung
at the funeral of His Eminence Ignatius Cardinal Kung Pin-Mei (Gong)
Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Rev Fathers, Rev. Brothers & Sisters, Dear friends of Cardinal Kung:
In celebrating the beginning of Cardinal Kung's heavenly life, I wish to share with you some of my thoughts.
In his letter to the elderly on October 1, 1999, our beloved Holy Father said: "The most natural place to spend one's old age continues to be in the environment in which one feels most "at home", among family members."
I am very happy to inform you that Cardinal Kung spent his last 27 months "at his home" in my residence. He lived very happily, as the Pope said, "among family members." He continued to be fairly active, received parishioners, met with the press and concelebrated many Holy Masses in his small chapel (should I say in his small cathedral) with clergy and religious from all over the world.
Cardinal Kung bade us farewell in a very peaceful way. He died among his loved ones. 7 hours before his death, 70 friends from the tri-state area held a prayer service including a Holy Mass in Cardinal Kung's small cathedral. Cardinal Kung received Holy Communion from Msgr. Horgan during that prayer service. For several weeks before his death, Cardinal was in some pain and discomfort but remained lucid until he drifted into unconsciousness few hours before his death. Whenever in pain, the cardinal would call out gently: "Blessed Mother, help me. Jesus, help me and St. Joseph help me." He repeated this short litany thousands of times. Most of the time, he would simply clutch his rosary. Cardinal said that he offered his sufferings for His Holiness and for China.
I believe very strongly that the good Cardinal is giving a message to the whole world that at the time of stress, and at the time of physical and spiritual pain, do not forget and do not even hesitate to cry out "Jesus, help me. Blessed Mother, help me. St. Joseph, help me".
I must admit that I could never have been able to take care of Cardinal Kung for the last 12 years by myself, especially for the last 27 months, without the help of many wonderful people.
I wish to thank His Holiness for his daily prayers for China and for sending Cardinal Stafford to us to offer this Mass. I want to thank Cardinal Paul Shan from Taiwan, Bishop Zen from Hong Kong, and all other Cardinals, Bishops who came from far and near.
I wish to thank the government of the United States. Cardinal Kung's stay in the United States would not have been possible without the help of the United States Government. When Cardinal Kung's passport was confiscated by the communist Chinese Government two years ago, no one came to his aid. It was the United States which granted Cardinal Kung asylum in this beautiful country.
I wish to thank the Bridgeport Diocese, starting with the late Bishop Curtis, and continuing with Bishop Egan for their generosity in inviting Cardinal Kung to stay in the Queen of Clergy Home for Retired Clergy until the end of 1997. During the first winter at the Queen of Clergy, Cardinal was so pleased with his first experience with central heating and hot showers that he remarked, "Heaven must be something like this." Bishop Egan, we thank you.
During the Cardinal's stay at the Queen of Clergy Home, Cardinal received the most meticulous and loving care from Sister Daniel Marie, the president and CEO of St. Joseph Medical Center. It was most reassuring for Cardinal Kung to know that whenever he is suddenly ill, Sister Daniel Marie was always there within minutes, day or night. Thank you, Sister.
I also wish to thank Dr. Lambros Siderides who took care of Cardinal Kung for the last 10 years. Dr. Siderides was most caring and Cardinal trusted him completely.
I wish to particularly thank my wife, Agnes, who took care of the Cardinal starting from his arrival at the JFK Airport to the hour of his death. In the last few months when the Cardinal was gravely ill, she even slept on the floor in another room next to the Cardinal so that when the nurse needs some help, they could call her immediately. Thank you, Agnes.
I wish also to thank specially my brother-in-law Ignatius Chu and his wife Margaret, both of whom were victims of the religious persecutions in China. They were each in jail and in Labor Camps for about 24 years. They also took care of the Cardinal from the first day of Cardinal's arrival in the United States to the Cardinal's last breath. I know Cardinal was very comforted by Ignatius' Latin Chant by his bedside. Thank you, Ignatius and Margaret.
Even with the help of my wife Agnes, Ignatius and Margaret, we could not have provided Cardinal Kung 24 hours of continuous care during the past few months without the volunteer nurses. These dedicated men and women did not merely visit Cardinal for only one or two hours every now and then. They covered shifts of 10-12 hours a day for a few weeks at a time. They came from Shanghai, Hartford, Philadelphia, and New York to make sure that the Cardinal is comfortable. They are Teresa, Paul, Cecilia and others. They nursed, they prayed, they read the bible and they sang hymns for His Eminence. I know Cardinal Kung will never forget your total love and dedication to him. Thank you all.
I want to thank the joint choirs of St. John's and St. Mary's for the wonderful music during today's Mass. Your music must have gone straight to heaven to be harmonized by countless angels surrounding Cardinal Kung. Thank you Mr. Booker and Mr. Turkington and all the choir members.
I want to thank Msgr. diGiovanni of St. John, Father Michael Jones, Dr. Joseph McAleer and their staff who had worked so hard for the last few days to put this glorious Mass together. I also wish to thank Msgr. Methe, Father Hyl and Father Futie who let us use their church for many of Cardinal Kung's celebrations.
I also wish to thank so many distinguished guests from tri-state area representing various government agencies and representing the Taiwan government. Your presence is a manifestation of your love to Cardinal Kung. We the family sincerely appreciate your coming. Thank you.
Certainly, I cannot stop here without thanking Cardinal Kung's dear friend Msgr. Horgan. He was among the first priests the cardinal met. He was also the last priest he prayed with before the Cardinal died. He is the constant companion whenever the Cardinal goes, translating whatever the Cardinal wish to say. We can never thank Msgr. Horgan enough. Thank you, Msgr.
I want to thank the Board of Directors of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, spreading the message of Cardinal Kung and carry on the work which is close to the Cardinal's heart.
Last, but not least, I wish to thank all of you for your constant prayers for Cardinal Kung and for the Church in China, to which the cardinal has dedicated his life. I do not believe that we who had the privilege to take care of Cardinal Kung would be able to do so without your encouragement and prayers. Thank you, all. Please continue to pray for Cardinal Kung and for China.
Now, I want to take this opportunity to share some incidences of Cardinal Kung's life with you.
In 1955, his mother said good-bye to Cardinal Kung shortly before he was arrested. Comforting his weeping mother, the Cardinal told her, "Do not cry, you should be very proud when your son is a prisoner of Christ."
In a retreat for the clergy of the Shanghai Diocese, Cardinal said "You should have no illusion about your future. You will be arrested. You may be martyred. Jesus prepared this for you because he loved you. What are you afraid of? If you died for Christ, you will have resurrection."
In 1988, I requested his permission to take him to America. Uncle Cardinal replied to me: "Unless I am willing to collude with the schismatic church, they will not allow me to leave China. Better to have an Uncle who is a faithful prisoner of Christ, than to have a free but schismatic bishop as an uncle. Let us leave the matter in God's hands."
About 8 years ago, a soon-to-be-ordained seminarian of the Bridgeport Diocese came to ask for Cardinal's blessing. He asked the Cardinal how to be a faithful priest. Cardinal's answer was very brief. "Always do the Will of God."
When this seminarian asked Cardinal how he prayed during the 30 years in jail without any prayer books, bible, Holy Masses or rosaries, Cardinal simply replied that the communists had never taken away his rosary. Puzzled, the seminarian asked "How did you hide the rosary when you were thoroughly searched in jail?" Cardinal just moved his ten fingers and said "Ave Maria. You will always have your rosary and you will never be without Holy Mother's help."
It was only a couple of months ago that Msgr. Horgan in the presence of Cardinal's family members informed the Cardinal of his terminal Cancer. Cardinal Kung listened intensely and did not utter a word. He simply took the crucifix, kissed it and used the crucifix to bless us.
"Doing the will of God" and Praying "The Rosary" guided Cardinal's life. They gave him the strength during those impossible 32 ½ years. He was totally loyal to the Church and to Holy Father, without compromise and without negotiation. He said, one's action should reflect totally what is in one's heart.
On January 6th of this year, Cardinal Kung was informed of the consecration of five bishops in China without Papal mandate. Cardinal Kung, deeply saddened by this event, simply remarked: "This is schismatic".
On the lighter side, Cardinal was once asked by a reporter why he looked so well while he spent 30 years in jail. He paused a short moment and answered: "No Cholesterol!"
I like to inform Your Eminences and Your Excellencies that the Religious Persecution in China continues, and it is intensifying at this very moment. We request your support to the Underground Roman Catholic Church in China which the Holy Father characterized as "the precious jewel of the Church". You are in a unique position with the necessary power and resources to raise awareness about the religious persecutions in China to all parishes in the United States and, if you wish, throughout the world. It is also within your easy reach to ask your pastors to pray for the persecuted Church in China and elsewhere in the world during the intercessions of each Mass. On Cardinal Kung's Coat of Arms, it says "One Fold and One Shepherd". With your active support, Your Eminences and your Excellencies, the dream of Cardinal Kung and indeed the dream of His Holiness Pope John Paul II may soon come true.