CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Faith does contribute to society development

HONG KONG (SE): “In a world where the contribution of faith to the development of society is rarely acknowledged, the Columban Sisters stand out as a group whose faith inspired expert and dedicated service to health, education and social development,” Peter Ryan, the consul general from Ireland to Hong Kong and Macau, said on November 23.

Speaking at a reception held at the consulate offices in Central to acknowledge the work done by the congregation, which grew out the inspiration of Irish faith, Ryan said that as a group, the sisters truly have contributed to the development of Hong Kong society, not only through their professionalism, but most especially through the personalised attention, love and care that their faith inspired them to bring to everything they did.

The Missionary Sisters of St. Columban for Preaching the Gospel in China first arrived in Hong Kong in 1948 to open a sanatorium for the care of tuberculosis patients.

Arguably the SARS of the time, their expert work, research and medical care saw the disease virtually disappear from the city it had plagued from its beginnings.

But as the sisters see various aspects of the mission they developed in Hong Kong being taken over by local people, they have decided to call it a day and concentrate the energies of their congregation on places of greater need, like Pakistan and the Union of Myanmar.

Around 50 people drank to the health of the last remnant of the congregation in Hong Kong; Sister Mary Anthony Ryan, Sister Isobel Loughery and Sister Patricia Byrne.

Anne Noonan made a presentation to the sisters on behalf of the St. Patrick’s Society of Hong Kong.

She said that the sisters will live on in the hearts of the many people, like herself, whose lives they have touched over their 67 years in the city.

Daryl Goldby spoke of the highly attentive care that he received from the sisters when he was ill, saying that he will always cherish the way he was treated as a person to be held with great care, rather than just a patient to be nursed.

Speaking on behalf of the Columban priests in Hong Kong, Father Jim Mulroney said that given the impact that the sisters have made on society in Hong Kong, their departure represents the end of an era.

However, he added that is not an ending to be mourned, as the seeds that they planted have flowered and their legacy has taught us how to cherish and protect the environment which allowed the growth to take place.

“We can honour their work in Hong Kong by striving to protect the environment that they have bequeathed,” he said.

The evening was organised by the consulate, the St. Patrick’s Society, the Irish Chamber of Commerce and the Gaelic Football Club.

The Sunday Examiner wishes the Columban Sisters bon voyage as they leave Hong Kong for their homeland.


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