CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Until we meet again Father Areechira

HONG KONG (SE): Fourteen groups from the Holy Family English Community in Choi Hung organised a farewell party for their parish priest, Father James Areechira, on January 29 at the parish basketball court.

The air was filled with a mixture of fun and melancholy. Each of the 14 groups provided some entertainment, after which one of them gave the much loved parish priest a short message of thanks and presented him with a souvenir of his decade and a half presence in Choi Hung.

Father Areechira became a little emotional as the Christ the King Community sang a medley from the song Through the Years and he posed for a photograph with each group.

The Indian Divine Word Missionary left for Melbourne, Australia, in early February on a two-year study leave to pursue a master’s degree in counselling and spirituality. He hopes to take up a teaching job upon his return to Hong Kong.

He told the Sunday Examiner that he felt sad at leaving the parish, but was also conscious of the satisfaction he is experiencing of having seen both the English- and Chinese-speaking communities grow.

He said that he takes pride in having been able to set the parish on a solid financial footing, as it is now self-sufficient and able to support other works in the diocese.

He added that he is grateful to God for his time as parish priest at Holy Family, as there were no major problems or difficulties.

In a message for everyone he said, “The most important thing in life is our relationship with God.”

Father Areechira spent 23 years in parish work in Hong Kong, beginning at St. Edward’s and then St. Benedict’s. He is now the longest running parish priest at Choi Hung.

He also worked as a prison chaplain and has been a regular contributor to the Sunday Examiner in his occasional column Priest Behind Bars, in which he shared some of his experiences from the inside of the prison gates.

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