CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Diocese celebrates religious jubilees

HONG KONG (SE): “On behalf of the diocese, I offer sincere and warm congratulations to all the jubilarians celebrating anniversaries of priesthood and religious life,” John Cardinal Tong Hon said at an afternoon reception in honour of priests and religious marking significant anniversaries this year at the Caritas Community Hall in Caine Road.

Celebrating their 60th, 50th and 25th anniversaries of ordination or profession, 36 jubilarians were toasted at the reception for their fidelity to their vocation and the contribution they have made to the life of the Church and society in Hong Kong.

Speaking on December 8, the feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the patron of the diocese of Hong Kong, the bishop congratulated the jubilarians and expressed his gratitude and appreciation for their long years of service, saying that he is confident that God will duly recognise their efforts.

Also noting that the day represented the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, he encouraged the 150 or so people present to remember the many acts of mercy that God has shown to them in their lives as the Church officially began the Jubilee Year.

He recalled hearing Pope Francis say upon his election as the bishop of Rome, “I am a sinner. I trust in infinite mercy.” Cardinal Tong, who was present at the conclave, added, “I still remember the look on his face, as well as his words.”

Addressing the jubilarians, Cardinal Tong said, “We are set apart through the mercy of God. May you be rewarded one hundredfold.”

Students from St. Teresa’s Secondary School saluted the 11 priests and 25 sisters celebrating anniversaries with a well-choreographed Chinese dance called, Wash, Brush, Brush, which reflects the close relationship with nature that many generations have formed with nature and the manner in which they have used bamboo for a great variety of purposes in their daily life.

The jubilarians were then asked to join Cardinal Tong, as well as Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-sang, and the vicar general of diocese, Father Dominic Chan Chi-ming, in the cutting of two anniversary cakes, one of which was presented by the Serra Club of Hong Kong.

Cardinal Tong then invited all present to join a packed cathedral church for a Mass of thanksgiving for the lives and service of the jubilarians, as well as to celebrate the feast of the patron of the diocese.

The guest homilist, Columban Father John MacGrath, who celebrates his 60th ordination anniversary on December 21, said that the three synoptic gospels use the words took, blessed, broke and gave in their accounts of the institution of the Eucharist.

Speaking in English, Father MacGrath said that he believes these four words describe the vocation to which we have all been invited.

He cited the biblical story of the call of fishermen mending their nets as apostles.

“It seemed casual, haphazard,” he said. “But it was pre-determined,” he pointed out, quoting scripture as saying, “Lord, you have formed me from my mother’s womb… I have not chosen you, but you have chosen me.”

Father MacGrath said that although we are all anointed, or blessed, at baptism, we are also broken, as discipleship comes at a cost. “A seed must die before bearing fruit,” he explained.

He also pointed out that as Christian people, we live in a world that is often hostile to Christian values, but we are still called to give our lives as a gift for others.

Nevertheless, he pointed out that God the Father gave us the supreme example of giving, as he sent his only begotten son, essentially to the poor and the neglected.

“We have too the example of our Blessed Mother,” he said. “She was predestined, but still had to carry her cross.”

But he concluded by saying, “Thank God for blessings.”

Speaking in Cantonese, Salesian Sister Rose Yick Yuen-yin, who is marking the golden jubilee of her religious profession this year, said that she has gratitude for many things in her life, which helped her to prepare for her vocation.

“I was born into a traditional Catholic family,” she said, “nurtured in a Catholic school, joined the Legion of Mary and learned good discipline during my days at  secondary school.”

She also thanked the Salesians for a preparatory retreat she attended over 50 years ago that helped her in discerning her vocation.

“My life as a religious has been simple, but rewarding,” she continued, saying, “The most important lesson I have learned is to be a cheerful giver and believe that God works in his own time.”

Speaking on behalf of the people of the diocese of Hong Kong, the president of the Central Council of the Laity, Vitus Tai King-kong, said in addressing the jubilarians, “I am touched by your witness and sacrifice, which have sanctified the Church and enriched our faith. Your fidelity is a great example of servanthood that we are all called to live in a merciful manner.”

He concluded saying, “You have shown the mercy of God to us and strengthened the faith of lay people.”


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