Feature image: Bishop John and Roger at a meeting with the diocesan team at Palms placement scoping visit in Pathein (November 2017)
Palms Australia pays tribute to Bishop John Hsane Hgyi from the Diocese of Pathein, Myanmar who passed away due to COVID-19 on 22nd July 2021. Bishop John is described by the Catholic Bishops Conference, Myanmar “…as a really good shepherd leading many Catholics of Myanmar to moral support and spiritual strength in this time of crisis”.
Palms Participant Jamie Drew taught English and IT as well as assisted with building design and permaculture in Pathein from March 29th, 2019, until he was repatriated due to COVID-19 on the March 23rd, 2020. Below he shares a memory of his time with Bishop John Hsane Hgyi!
“During my time in Myanmar, I was based in Pathein at St Peter’s cathedral compound where Bishop John also resided. He was always welcoming and warm, greeting everyone with a smile. I saw him as someone important and I was humbled by his humility. I didn’t expect him to pay me any attention and I tried to stay out of the way. But on the occasions we bumped into each other he would ask how I was doing and I felt as though if I needed anything he would ensure I was looked after.
I was lucky enough to go on a trip with Bishop John and Fr Florence, among others, to visit the village where Bishop John was first a priest. It was a lovely village with green rice paddy fields, masonry arch ways and modest homes. To reach the village we drove through a small patch of forest and needed the 4wd on the steep muddy roads through stands of bamboo.
We inspected the site for a new community hall where Bishop John said a prayer after talking with the engineer. It was a very hot and humid day so we retreated to the shade of the trees. After looking through the church and lovely garden grounds the villagers offered us lunch and refreshments.
I always felt humbled by the generosity I received in Myanmar, but particularly within the Pathein parish!
After having lunch we sat around in the shade drinking tea and talking. Bishop John praised me for my few phrases in Burmese and made sure I felt welcome with conversation and laughter.
I heard from many others about Bishop John’s humility! People would always say that he remained humble and in touch with his parishioners, even after achieving such an elevated status within the church.
I feel fortunate to have met him and for the time spent in his parish of Pathein where I was cared for so well!”