CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 July 2019

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Youth group at Rosary reaches out to Somalia in its time of need

HONG KONG (SE) : One of the groups in the diocese that did take up the call of Pope Benedict XVI and international aid agencies to give support to the famine stricken people of Somalia in Africa, is the Life Teen Youth Group in Rosary parish, Tsim Sha Tsui.
In a ceremony held on the evening of October 22, Michael Inot presented a cheque for $46,301.50, plus foreign currency to the value of $1,200, to the parish priest and board member of Caritas Hong Kong, Father John Baptist Tsang Hing-man, in the parish hall on Chatham Road South.
While every youth group has its own dialect, everyone in Life Teen at Rosary knows that an XLT is a prayer service and running under the theme of Fund Raising Somalia, Sam Wong led the opening prayer at the evening reflection.
“Thank you for this opportunity to raise awareness about the famine and drought in East Africa. We also thank you for the people who have generously donated what they can for this cause, for the prayers for the people of East Africa, as well as the time and effort these young people have put into Project Somalia,” he said.
Father Eamon Sheridan explained that the leadership team talked about the famine at the group’s mid-summer retreat on Cheung Chau, but the young people themselves brought the awareness- and fund-raising initiative into the parish and did the research for an educational project among the parishioners.
A slick video presentation put together by the tech savvy members of the group portrayed scenes from various events at Rosary leading up to collection weekend on October 15 and 16, interspersed with real life shots of the tragic situation on the ground in Somalia.
Youth leader, Ruel Trinidad, reminded the young people that while they had done the background work, it was the generosity of their parents and parishioners that made up the handsome cheque presented to Caritas for the relief work in Africa.
“Generosity must always be acknowledged,” he said, “and received with gratitude in the heart.”
The group also learned that generosity inspires generosity. On the following Sunday, a couple from Panama said that they would match the donation dollar for dollar, giving an extra US$6,000 ($46,668). 
Wong prayed, “Thank you also Lord, for all the blessings you have blessed us with. Living here in Hong Kong, we are all blessed that we have more than enough food and drink, that we do not have to worry about where our next meal will come from, whether we will have enough, or whether we will have enough to drink.”
Trinidad reminded the 70 or so young people and 20 or more parents and friends who took part in the evening of prayer, reflection and song, that the small efforts of each and every individual do make a difference, and when combined together, the result can really have an impact.
Wong added in her prayer, “When you fed the 5,000 people… a gift that seemed too small… everyone had more than enough to eat. It is easy for us to feel that our gifts are too insignificant; that we are only one person and that we cannot do much.”
“But,” she added, “you taught us to feel that the greatest commandments are to love you with all our heart, with all our soul and all our mind, and to love our neighbour as ourselves.”
Wong concluded, “So teach us to be like the little boy in the parable—help us to offer five loaves and two fish and share the blessings you have blessed us with.”
Father Sheridan reflected with the group that the command of Jesus to love your neighbour as yourself does not beg the question of who is my neighbour, as much as, “Who can I be a neighbour to?”
He said that the efforts being celebrated reflect that the Life Teen group had asked that question of itself and answered that it could be a neighbour to the suffering people in Africa at this time of need on the other side of the world.
In accepting the donation, Father Tsang said that the efforts of those who worked to raise awareness and donated the money reflect both love and sacrifice, as well as recognising God’s love and care for the children of his family.
The prayer service was interspersed with the singing of a few hymns, teenager style, and the hoots and clapping that accompanied them reflected that they really are songs they like to pray.
The evening ended with benediction of the blessed sacrament, accompanied by a rendition of the Tantum Ergo that even a Gregorian purist could be proud of.