特稿：说“美人照镜”的老顽童 The Playful Old Man Who Likes to Say: “Meiren Zhao Jing”
2020-06-27 22:38:51 作者：路济亚
乐耀星神父（Fr Robert Astorino）于2020年6月25日在美国纽约安息主怀，享年77岁。乐神父2019年下旬遵从总会长之命，从香港回美国度他的余生。熟悉他的人都知道，这是他最不愿意的事情。如果可以选择，他想必希望老死在香港。
对于乐神父的功绩，主要天主教媒体都有详尽报道，无需我再添一笔。而且在和乐神父共事期间，我只是在应聘的时候，经过面试，最后遁例走程序与乐神父见见面，日常工作要找上他的机会几乎微乎其微。当时我们工作的地方位于两幢相连的独立村屋，那里是乐神父和苏志仁神父（Fr Ronald Saucci, 1935-2016）的宿舍，他们借出部分地方给我们作办公用途。他们两人都是工作支柱，我们说他们的分工是苏神父去赚钱，乐神父去花钱，因为乐神父负责的工作，基本上就是一项烧钱的活动。在那里，苏神父可说是日出而作，日入而息，我们回来上班时，他大多已出外或是准备出门，到湾仔的办公室；我们傍晚快下班他才回来，碰面说话的机会很少。苏神父不苟言笑，有时戴着cap帽、抽着烟斗，更显得高冷，打招呼也犹如学生见到校长般，所以我们甚少主动与他交谈。至于乐神父，我们与他的接触，最多是在中午的饭桌上。因为办公室位置隔涉，同事大多带饭盒或煮面条之类，每到中午就在客厅的一张古典大餐桌围着用膳。这时乐神父经常会以他的广东话与同事斗嘴，或与大家开玩笑。他的午餐是由菲籍佣工Ninia准备，由于厨艺太好，有时剩下的饭菜，我们会“虎视眈眈”。乐神父不会介意让我们享用，但有时会故意说，“大家都可以吃”，然后指着一位吃货同事说，“你不能吃”，把她气得半死，两人便开始一轮舌剑唇枪。
The Playful Old Man Who Likes to Say: “Meiren Zhao Jing”
In memory of Father Robert Astorino
Regarding the contributions of Fr Robert Astorino, founder of Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News), I do not need to add more as UCA News and many other major Catholic media have given detailed reports. I wrote a short piece in Chinese for the Faith Press and Father John B. Zhang encouraged me to translate it into English so that we could also share it with friends in New York. ——Lucia Cheung （Hong Kong）
Father Bob, as he was lovingly called, now rests in peace in New York after his death on June 25, 2020, at the age of 77. He returned to the U.S. in late 2019 in obedience to his superior. Anyone who knows him well understood that had he the choice, he would have spent the rest of his life in Hong Kong, where he lived for almost half a century.
I began working at the China Office of UCA News when Father Bob was the director. After my interview with the editorial department, I had a brief meeting with him. He trusted us to do our work on our own and seldom came over to the office to give us instructions. At that time, the headquarters and the Chine Office were located in a duplex village house, where Father Bob and Father Ronald Saucci (1935-2016) also lived. The two fathers were the pillars of UCA News. My colleagues said that their division of labor was simple: Father Saucci raised money and Father Bob spent money, because supervising the news publication was burning money. We had minimal contact with Father Saucci, as he usually left or prepared to leave for his office in Wanchai when we arrived for work and he returned in the evening when we were about to go home. Often wearing a flat cap and smoking a pipe, Father Saucci looked a bit aloof. We greeted him politely, like students facing a stern school principal, and rarely took the initiative to talk to him. As for Father Bob, our contact with him was mostly at the lunch table. Because of the remote location of the office, we brought our own lunch boxes or cooked noodles and ate in the living room. Father Bob would chat with us in Cantonese. His lunch was prepared by the Filipino domestic helper Ninia. He did not mind sharing the food. He would say, “Everyone can help herself,”mockingly pointing at a colleague known for her love of tasty food, “but you can’t.” Then the two exchanged barbs, and he mimicked what she just said, delighting everyone.
Father Bob, of Italian descent, liked cooking or instructing Ninia how to prepare Italian food, such as pasta, lasagna, and pizza for us for lunch or afternoon snack. He made sure the taste of the homemade sauce was as good as what he learned from his family. When he watched us enjoying the food, he was very happy.
Hong Kong was a perfect place for a missioner like Father Bob who loved Chinese food. Whenever there was colleague’s birthday, we would go out to a restaurant for “dim sum,” (a Cantonese-cuisine prepared in small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on a small plate) as it was Father Bob’s favorite. In those days, the Chinese restaurants still had servers pushing the dim sum carts around for people to choose what they liked to eat. At the restaurant, Father Bob always went around like a butterfly to pick out dim sum from different carts. He was pleased to see everyone eating happily and moreover to show off his Cantonese. The servers, mostly middle-aged women, were amazed that this foreigner spoke such fluent Cantonese. Father Bob did not eat much, but our office administrator who worked with him for several decades, would unfailingly order his favorite “dry stir-fried rice noodle with beef” with a small dish of mustard on the side. At the end of the meal, Father Bob would urge this and that colleague to finish all the food, saying “Meiren Zhao Jing,” (a Chinese idiom meaning “a beauty looking at herself in the mirror;” here it means the plate should be so cleanly finished as to reflect the diner’s beautiful face). As he said it too many times, we teased him that this expression was so passé and nobody used it anymore.
After Father Bob retired and the office moved out from the village house, we kept contact by inviting him to dim sum once every two or three months until he left Hong Kong. We also visited him at the Maryknoll’s Stanley House. We once suggested borrowing its large kitchen and asking Father Bob to cook his homemade spaghetti and pizza for us again. Unfortunately, this wish was never fulfilled but this friendship built on sharing food and lots of laughter will remain in our memory forever.
Author: Lucia Cheung (Former staff at UCA News China Office 1996-2017; Currently, a research assistant at the Centre for Catholic Studies, the Chinese University of Hong Kong)