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Now is the right time for outreach in China

MACAU (AsiaNews): Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-sang put a new twist on the annual Day of Prayer for the Church in China in Macau, when he called on the whole of his diocese to come to the cathedral to join in a prayer vigil on May 24.

In previous years, gatherings have been held in individual parish churches, but in his first year as bishop of the diocese, Bishop Lee asked everyone to come together and prayer as one voice.

The evening vigil was held in three languages; Cantonese, English and Portuguese. Some stories of the martyrs of China, a short history of the Church on the mainland and the work of foreign missionaries was projected onto two screens on either side of the main altar.

A short presentation of what inspires the Christians of today in an extremely fast-changing society was also included, along with a glimpse of the many difficulties they face in living and witnessing to their faith.

The Holy Spirit was invoked and asked to guide those who witness to the gospel in these times of persecution and the gathering prayed that they too may be gifted to speak with eloquence in front of the authorities of this world.

Bishop Lee highlighted that he believes that the power of prayer to Mary from the many places of pilgrimage in China, as well as Churches around the world, is a significant source of courage and strength for the country’s Catholics.

Bishop Lee asked people to pray that the Virgin Mary will help the Church in China grow in the faith, as it prepares to face new social challenges.

He explained that this growth must take place among bishops and priests, religious and laity together. He then asked that the Virgin Mary give strength to Christians in facing the hardships and difficulties arising from their lives of faith in China, following the example of the martyrs of the past.

He pointed out that these difficulties have long been well known to the Catholic people of Macau, as they are born into the nature of Chinese society, from the same economy and ethnic conflicts.

Bishop Lee asked the Virgin Mary to foster evangelical zeal in the hearts of the Catholic people of China, so they may bring the joy of the gospel to people.

He pointed out that the present moment is an opportune time for Chinese Catholics to reach out right across the country.

The vigil concluded with a moment of silence before the blessed sacrament and the recital of the prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan in three languages.

The celebration ended with the singing of the hymn, Mary, Queen of China.

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