CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Association of Children of Mary closes but parish branches remain open

HONG KONG (SE): A Mass was celebrated by Father Cyril Cheung Lok-tin at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Tai Po to mark the official closing of the Association of the Children of Mary on January 1, but the six parish-based branches in the diocese say they will continue operating the services they have been performing, as well as recruit new membership.

The former officer of the Association, Ida Leung Wai-ming, told the Kung Kao Po on January 12 that up until now the association has served as a communication platform for all branches in the diocese to share their experiences in the various pastoral and social services they are involved in.

She added that she does not believe that the closing of the association will have a negative effect on the operation of the parish-based branches.

Leung explained that the six branches offer quite different services and vary somewhat in their customs and apostolates. She added that in the future they will continue to govern themselves while remaining loyal to following the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary and walking in the footsteps of Christ.

She is of the opinion that the closure of the association does not spell the end of the Children of Mary in Hong Kong, as it will continue in other ways and fulfill a different role in society.

The Children of Mary set up its first branch at St. Teresa’s parish in Kowloon in 1930s. Then in 1953, St. Jude’s in North Point and St. John the Baptist in Kwun Tong followed suit.

In 1998, two more branches were set up in Tai Po and Holy Redeemer in Tuen Mun and, in a reverse move, the branch at St. Patrick’s in Lok Fu was restarted in 2012.

Leung said the Children of Mary made particular contributions when the various ministries we are accustomed to seeing in parishes today were still in their infancy stages of development.

She listed cleaning, preparing the offertory gifts for Mass and praying for the needy as three mainstays, while noting that some early members are still in the choirs.

Many sisters in Hong Kong came out of the Children of Mary. Canossian Sister Margaret Cheung Sau-fong, the current spiritual director of the branch at St. Jude’s, is among them.

Sister Cheung said she has learned from her experience that the group has helped women to strengthen their spirituality and develop a habit of reaching out to others in a charitable way, which paves the road for their later vocation.

Sister Cheung added that although the Children of Mary is not particularly an active ministry, it is strongly formative, as it is a community where people can share about their lives and be part of a group that gives them a sense of belonging.

She admitted that she was surprised when she first became the spiritual director of the branch, as the members range in age from quite senior people to teenagers.

However, she explained the wide age gap among the over 20 people does not hinder their communication. She also expressed her appreciation to the longtime members who have been contributing to the community for years.

Sister Cheung reminisced on joining the Legion of Mary when she was a student. She said the biggest area in which the Children of Mary differs from the Legion is that it does not set any rigid timeframes for the outreach of the members.

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