Priest who helped grow Brisbane’s Chinese Catholic community celebrates 60 years of ministry

MISSIONARY OF THE SACRED HEART Father Albert Chan’s 60 years of priesthood have been a strong testimony to religious and priestly life, his fellow priests said.

Father Chan celebrated his birthday with the Chinese Catholic community at the Sacred Heart Center in Runcorn.

Another priest from the Chinese Catholic community, Franciscan Father Harry Chan, said Father Albert was “really a great and humble priest.”

“(He is) a priest not only for Catholics but for everyone,” he said.

“Over the years he has helped so many people in their needs.”

Another community priest, Father Jack Ho, echoed Father Harry’s comments, saying Father Albert was a kind and gentle pastor who had helped many Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

“Throughout my seminary journey, Father Albert supported me with his friendship and with many pastoral opportunities through which I was able to practice and learn,” he said.

The Early Days: A photo of when Father Chan was just beginning his ministry.

“I am very honored and moved that, despite the difficulty of traveling these days, Father Albert never failed to accompany me through the many important steps, from candidacy to ordinations and to my Thanksgiving Mass” .

He said Father Albert’s wisdom will continue to accompany the community for many years to come.

Father Chan’s chaplaincy to the community grew alongside the community itself.

Prior to the formation of the community, Chinese Catholics attended Masses in local parishes, but the language barrier prevented many from “participating fully and actively in the liturgy.”

Fr Chan, after teaching in Canberra for 25 years, arrived in Brisbane in January 1985 and was chosen as chaplain.

His chaplaincy took him from Coolangatta in the south to Childers in the north and Gatton in the west.

Recognizing that one person couldn’t do it all, Father Chan decided on a bold new initiative.

He sponsored two Hong Kong religious orders.

Gifts: Father Chan welcomed by children with gifts for his birthday.

In 1989 the Sisters of St Paul de Chartres and the Chinese Sisters of the Immaculate Conception arrived.

The Sisters of St Paul de Chartres have since opened a retirement home in Boronia Heights.

To promote a positive attitude in the learning of young students and to study and spread Chinese culture, the Chinese school was established in 1989.

In 1997, it was officially renamed the Chinese School of the Sacred Heart.

On March 17, 2002, the late Archbishop John Bathersby blessed and dedicated the new Sacred Heart Center at Runcorn.

On May 14, 2022, the Lady of China Shrine in Marian Valley was blessed by Father Chan.

Father Chan was ordained on July 21, 1962.

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