Sister Joan Ling, MM

Born: January 27, 1927
Entered: September , 1959
Died: October 30, 2010

We gather this evening to celebrate the life of our gentle and gracious Sister Joan Ling. Sister Joan entered eternal life on October 30, 2010 in Hong Kong.

Ling Jing Tak was born in Guilin, China, on January 27, 1927. Her beloved parents, Ling Yongxin and Lin Maoqing, predeceased her. In 1947, she entered the Sister Catechists of Our Lady, a community founded by the Maryknoll Fathers and trained by the Maryknoll Sisters for the Diocese of Guilin. In 1950 she and two other Sisters from her community, who later became Maryknoll Sisters, Agnes Chou and Rose Chin, were sent to Macau to finish their secondary school studies. Shortly after arriving in Macau, their community was disbanded due to the chaotic situation in China. In 1956, Joan graduated from St. Rose of Lima Secondary School in Macau and then came to Hong Kong, where Maryknoll Sisters helped her find ministry in the Hong Kong Diocese. In September 1959, Joan entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation in New York. She made her First Profession in 1962 and was given the name Sister Joan Miriam. In 1963, she was assigned to South China and did catechetical work in Taiwan until 1966, when she returned to Hong Kong to do pastoral work there. Sister Joan made her Final Profession in Hong Kong in 1968.

In 1972, Joan was in charge of the Hostel for student nurses from Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital. Her gentle caring ways to these young women resulted in life-long friendships. In 1975, she became the director of the Diocesan Pastoral Center and a Hostel for the students and working women. These young women came from many different countries and cultural backgrounds. Joan was always ready to offer a listening ear and wise counsel to all. Through her gentle ways, Joan was able to develop a beautiful family spirit of care and concern among them. These women, now married and with their own families, have never forgotten Joan and her kindness to them and return often to visit. They have annual reunions together with Joan every Chinese New Year with plenty of food, fum and games for all the family. For Moon Festival just a few weeks ago, they all gathered again for another big reunion. It was truly a joyous occasion.

In 1977, Joan was able to visit her family in China for the first time since she left nearly 30 years earlier. It was an unforgettable reunion for them all. One of her brothers and a cousin went to the train station in Guilin to meet her, but they nearly missed each other, since they had changed so much over the 30 years! It was her cousin whom she finally recognized and who introduced her to her brother! When she got to her village, Tung An, she was warmly welcomed by her father who was already 75 years old, four brothers, sisters and all of their children and grandchildren. She also had the joy of visiting some women from her former community. Joan was sad to see that their mission property had been taken over by the government officials. She said, however, that the well on the property was still being used. Joan added: “I hope someday they will have the real ‘living water’ again.” This was a dream that Joan has worked hard to bring to fruition particularly in Guilin and Meizhou.

In June, 1990, Joan went to the Center to give Congregational Service and began working on obtaining her U.S. citizenship. She first worked as Hospitality Coordinator. Then in September, 1993, she was invited to work in our Treasury Department until 1995. Joan returned to Maryknoll in 2009 to join her 1959 group as they celebrated their Golden Jubilee. She spoke warmly of her time there at the Center where she was able to renew her friendship with many Sisters and meet some of the newer members of our Maryknoll family.

Joan’s retirement years were very full. In Hong Kong she has been actively involved in St. Teresa’s Parish, working as a Eucharistic Minister and visiting shut-ins. She also visited former patients from our Maryknoll Hospital. Her deep joy was helping the Church in China. She was often called upon to hostess groups of Sisters and priests from China who came to Hong Kong to learn about the Church here. In 1999, Bishop Anthony Zhung, bishop of the Meizhou Diocese in Guangdong Province, asked Joan to go to Meizhou to help the Sisters there. He wanted her to teach them methods of instructing children in religious education. Joan was particularly concerned about deepening the Sisters’ understanding of Religious Life. In 2004, she invited Sister Sue Glass to accompany her to Meizhou to give a workshop on the meaning of religious life. Sue said that she could see the love and respect the Sisters had for Joan, and it was clear that Joan was a real spiritual guide for the Sisters there.

Joan also returned many times to Guilin, where her former community was re-founded. She has been involved in providing educational opportunities and ongoing religious formation for the Sisters there. This past August, Joan brought Sister Arlene Trant with her to visit the priests and Sisters in Guilin and her family in nearby Tung An. Arlene said: “Every place we went, Joan was greeted with deep love and reverence. In Guilin, both the priests and Sisters would seek her out each evening, and she would quietly sit and listen and counsel them long into the night. It was such a joy to see all the love and affection everyone had for Joan.” Over the years, Joan became a trusted confidant of the Bishops of Guilin and of Meizhou who regularly sought her counsel. This past September, although Joan was not feeling that well, she nevertheless went to Meizhou once again to visit the Bishop, priests and Sisters there.

Our Foundress, Mother Mary Joseph, said: “God has yet a great work for us to do.” For Joan, this “great work” was faithfully lived out with gentleness and generosity in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. The past two months, Joan visited her family and friends as well as the priests and Sisters in both Guilin and Meizhou. It seems Joan’s “great work” was completed, and so it was that with deep peace she entered into her new life just as gently as she had lived this one.

We welcome Sister Joan’s family and are grateful to our Pastor, Father Joseph Mak, who will preside at Sister’s Mass of Resurrection, and to our 11 Maryknoll Fathers and 5 other priests who will concelebrate.