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A new year and a Holy Door opened

On January 1, around 2,000 people gathered at the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Tai Po to witness the ceremony of the Opening of the Door of Mercy, which was presided over by John Cardinal Tong Hon.

The cardinal began the proceedings with the rite of introduction outside the church, saying, “Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Mother of God and open the Door of Mercy as instructed by Pope Francis. Let us now call upon the mercy of God.”

The cardinal then solemnly walked with his ministers, while the combined choirs of the Tai Po Chinese- and English-
Speaking Communities sang Misericordes Sieut Pater (Hymn of the Jubilee of Mercy) in both Chinese and Latin, and the procession ascended the steps leading up to the entrance to the church.

There the cardinal stopped in front of the doors, over which are written the words in Chinese and Latin, The Home of the Church, Gateway to Heaven.

Standing before the Door of Mercy, Cardinal Tong pronounced, “This is the Lord’s gate: let us pass through it and obtain mercy and forgiveness,” before he opened the door. Father Luigi Bonalumi, the parish priest, then incensed the Door of Mercy.

The cardinal called on all to pray saying, “Grant that your faithful may pass through this gate and be welcomed into your presence, so that they may experience, O Father, your abundant mercy.”

The procession, which included various nationalities representing both the Chinese- and English-Speaking Com-
munities of the Tai Po parish, then entered the crowded church and were warmly welcomed by the cardinal, who proceeded to the altar, sprinkling the congregation with holy water as he went.

Cardinal Tong opened the Eucharistic celebration with the prayer, “May almighty God cleanse us of our sins, and through the celebration of this Eucharist make us worthy to share at the table of his kingdom.”

As the church can only provide around 250 seats, many had to stand, while others assembled in the meeting rooms below the church or in the hall and on the ground floor of the adjacent Valtorta College, where they were able to watch the celebration via closed circuit television.

At the conclusion of the celebration, those in the church who had already received a blessing, quietly left, so that those outside were able to pass through the Holy Door, enter the church and receive a blessing from one of the several priests in attendance.

The members of the English-Speaking Community here in Tai Po feel they have been particularly blessed, because the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was one of only seven, including the cathedral, where the opening of the Holy Door was being celebrated in Hong Kong, and it was a bilingual celebration so that we could understand and participate.

It was a truly humbling yet uplifting experience for all those who attended the celebration. All the members of the Chinese- and English-Speaking Communities of the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish wish to express their most sincere gratitude to all those who helped in making it all possible, including John Cardinal Tong for leading the celebration, Father Thomas Law Kwok-fai, from the Diocesan Liturgical Commission, who directed the proceedings, our priests from Tai Po, Father Bonalumi, Father James Wan Nga-pak and Father Cyril Cheung Lok-tin, and the many priests from neighbouring parishes.

We also should not forget the many sisters who attended, as well as the visitors from various parts of Hong Kong.

Thanks be to God for another beautiful day.

• Philip Owen  
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Tai Po