CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Inspiration to keep going

HONG KONG (SE): The annual Mass for Migrants celebrated this year at Christ the King Chapel in Causeway Bay on July 16 got the tick as an inspiration to keep on battling from the 500 or so people from the Filipino, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Sri Lankan communities in Hong Kong.
Priscilla Kirk, a member of the choir at St. Francis’ parish in Ma On Shan, said that the words of the celebrant of the Mass, Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, gave her hope and strength, and she believes that as a migrant himself, Jesus provides her with a fine example of how to face the trials of migrant life in Hong Kong.
As a regular at the Mass each year, she said that the occasion gives her the inspiration to keep moving on.
A first-timer at the annual celebration of migrant life, Sister Teresa Chan Nga-tong, an adviser to the Vietnamese community in Kwun Tong, described the day as a sign of unity among migrants from many countries, as well as expressing the concern of the Church in the city for its migrant population.
She described the music during the Mass, which was provided by choirs from the Indonesian, Filipino and Vietnamese communities, each presenting in their own cultural styles and languages, as providing an insight into each one of the national groups, but also found Bishop Yeung’s reminder that God always cares for us, encouraging.
Bishop Yeung described the purpose of the annual gathering as an expression of thanks from the people of Hong Kong to the migrant communities for the work and services they provide, as well as being a sign they are welcome in the city.
He called it a symbol of people of many nationalities journeying together through life, as well as being an expression of the care of the Church for all comers, wherever they come from.
Describing Jesus as one who migrated from heaven to earth, he said that like all migrants he faced a lot of difficulties in life, but also like all migrants he came for a purpose and we, like Jesus, must face our own difficulties in order to achieve our goals in life.
The bishop added that like the man in the gospel story who went out to sow his crop, Jesus did not scrimp and tossed the seeds around liberally on all types of soil, but was rewarded with a plentiful harvest.
But he noted that in the cycle of life there must be sacrifice in order to give birth to a greater life, in the same way as the seed must die to give birth to the plant.
Bishop Yeung then encouraged the gathering to use their migrant experience, even though it may be a short one, to be open to the sacrifices that must be made and use the time to mature and grow through the experience of being in a foreign country.
He added that prayer is an important ingredient in this cycle especially in times of difficulties, as it is a reminder that God never leaves us alone and, with good focus in life, we can then wait to enjoy a bountiful harvest.
Father Jay Flandez, the chaplain to Filipinos in Hong Kong, and Father Heribertus Hadiarto, the chaplain to the Indonesian community, joined Bishop Yeung at the Mass, together with Father Jun Jacobe, Father Pierre Lam Minh, Father Joseph Mai Van The, Father John Baptist Le Van Ba, Father Blaise Cooray and a deacon, Reverend Francis Mahilum.
Bishop Yeung presented Sister Felicitas Nisperos with a bouquet to mark her 60th anniversary in religious life and Sister Peter Chua who marks gold this year.
Sister Nisperos is the director of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre for Filipinos and has worked there since 2001. She thanked the migrant people for allowing her to serve them and the bishop for his support as the chairperson of the Commission for Migrants in the diocese.
Sister Chua was at the centre for a few years and expressed her appreciation for the support the diocese has given to the Good Shepherd Sisters and their various ministries in Hong Kong.
The Mass was followed by a celebration of cultures with the hit of the day coming from the Vietnamese community performing a dance with brightly decorated conical-shaped hats expressing gratitude for the work farmers do in producing the food we eat and their love for the land.
Father Flandez said after the celebration that although it was a good day, it is essentially a celebration for migrant workers, but the Catholic migrant community in the city is much wider than that.
He told the Sunday Examiner that he has a dream to widen the celebration to include people from all nationalities that worship in the Catholic Church in Hong Kong and to make it a real day to acknowledge the essential contribution to society that those who leave their homelands to work in the city make.

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