CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Maryknoll centennial celebrated with gratitude

HONG KONG (SE): The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers held a family celebration of the centennial of the founding of the United States of America (US) missionary society at the Happy Valley Racecourse on November 24.

Almost 300 people gathered to raise a glass in appreciation of the great service Maryknoll has given to the people of Hong Kong and the 30 countries around the world where its missionaries are working.

The evening was emceed by Loretta Wong, a long time Maryknoll supporter and co-worker, and the superior in Hong Kong, Father Brian Barrons, noted in his welcoming address that the celebration in Hong Kong takes on a special meaning, as it is the longest commitment that the society has outside the US.

“We have had a 93-year commitment to Hong Kong,” Father Barrons said. “The Maryknoll society wants to thank the people of Hong Kong who have been our friends and welcomed and supported us over all these years.”

Father Barrons paid special tribute to the Maryknoll Sisters, whom he said have played a significant role in the society’s mission in the territory over the years. He made special mention of the Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital in Wong Tai Sin, which marked its 50th anniversary this year.

He added that the sisters will celebrate their centenary of foundation next year.

Father Barrons also spoke of the changes in mission presence over the years and made special mention of the 20 or so young people present, who are taking part in a programme of volunteer teaching in China during their undergraduate years.

He asked each one to stand as he introduced them and the US university at which they are studying.

He also made special mention of Father Tony Brennan, who is celebrating his golden anniversary of ordination this year, as well as Father Frank Elsinger, who joined the Hong Kong diocese from Maryknoll, but has also chalked up 50 years as a priest.

The vicar general of the society and former superior in Hong Kong, Father José Arámburu, gave a brief history of the founding of the society in 1911 and of its development over the years.

The longest serving Maryknoll priest in Hong Kong, Father John Cioppa, responded to Father Barrons on behalf of the society and guest of honour for the evening, Bishop John Tong Hon, said grace.

The bishop thanked God for the blessing of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers over the past 100 years, as well as the late Pope St. Pius X, for approving the foundation of the society.

He added that Maryknoll has blessed Hong Kong through the development parishes, schools and social and other services, which it is still doing today.

The occasion was marked by an atmosphere of joyful conviviality, as the many people from Maryknoll parishes, friends and supporters enjoyed an evening of fine food, good company in an expression of gratitude for the blessings God has bestowed upon all of us.

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