CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 19 August 2017

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Centenary of Fatima marked in Cheung Chau

HONG KONG (SE): People were urged to continue praying for peace in the world during a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis marking the centenary of the apparition of Our Lady at Fatima in Portugal, and John Cardinal Tong Hon took up the same theme at a celebration of the feast day of the parish in Our Lady of Fatima on Cheung Chau on May 13.
 
Around 700 people, many of whom had crossed the seas from Hong Kong and Kowloon, gathered for the annual Mass.
 
The rosary was recited prior to Mass and Cardinal Tong encouraged people to make it a frequent prayer in response to the call of Our Lady of Fatima to always sacrifice and pray for peace.
 
Cardinal Tong showed his appreciation for the parish of Cheung Chau, which has become a pilgrimage spot hosting more and more visitors every year.
 
However, he reminded people that a pilgrimage is not particularly a sightseeing trip, but a journey in faith bringing us to the root of spirituality, which means that every day can be a pilgrimage in fulfillment of the call of God.
 
Cardinal Tong spoke about Marian apparitions at a devotional session later in the afternoon. He said that Church devotions to Our Lady mean she is the saint of all saints, who brings people closer to Jesus.
 
The bishop of Hong Kong then spoke about the history of the Marian apparitions at Fatima and the devotion it has elicited in the hearts of recent popes.
 
He pointed out that Pope John Paul II entrusted the world to Our Lady after an assassination attempt was made on his life on 13 May 1981, while the Hong Kong diocese was also entrusted to her care some years ago.
 
The cardinal encouraged people to learn from the virtues exhibited in the life of Our Lady, especially her readiness to fulfill God’s will, and her fidelity and perseverance, something which is also pushed by Pope Francis.
 
Cardinal Tong pointed out that many leaders in the Church in China cherish a devotion to Our Lady. He pointed to Archbishop Dominic Tang Yee-ming, from Guangzhou, who drew strength from reciting the rosary during his 22 years of imprisonment.
 
The cardinal urged people to pray for reconciliation between the two sides of the split in the Church in China, as well as for the freedom and well-being of the Catholic people.
 
As a way of informing both local parishioners and pilgrims, the parish priest of Cheung Chau, Father John Ahearn, drew attention to the leaflets that have been printed and display boards that have been prepared to explain the meaning of the apparitions and share devotional messages.
 
The parish held a campaign encouraging people to recite 20 decades of the rosary a day from May 13 to October for the intentions of the pope, world peace and other issues. Father Ahearn said that it has received a good response.
 
Father Ahearn hopes that the parish can maintain its vitality and provide more opportunities for development.
 
Pope Francis has granted a plenary indulgence opportunity throughout the entire anniversary year, which began on November 27 last year and will end on November 26 this year.
 
One way to avail yourself of the indulgence is to visit with devotion a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which is solemnly exposed for public veneration in any church, oratory or proper place, and devoutly participate in some celebration or prayer in honour of the Virgin Mary.

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