CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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A link with history mourned in Shatin

HONG KONG (SE): Well remembered for her decades of service to education in Shatin, Sister Mary Annunciata Chou Hsueh-mei was buried from St. Alfred’s parish on October 21. She passed away after a long illness at the age of 88 on October 15.
Past and present principals and former students, as well as her community from the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows and relatives gathered for the requiem Mass celebrated by Father Stephen Chan Mun-hung to mourn her passing.
A vigil Mass on the previous evening was celebrated by Father Cyril Cheung Lok-ting, himself a graduate of Immaculate Heart of Mary College where Sister Chou was legend, fondly remembered as a pioneer of the beginning of educational facilities in the newly created Shatin area.
Father Cheung was joined by Father Joseph Zong, a nephew of the late sister. He had come to Hong Kong to help care for his ailing aunt while his sister, Sister Mary Zhong, arrived a few days before the funeral.
Sister Lucy Chung Miu-sheung, the current superior of the congregation in Hong Kong, recalled how Sister Chou had watched overthe construction of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Kindergarten and with her eye for the aesthetic, had shown particular concern over the design of the uniform.
Sister Chung also recalled her love of trees, planting many around the complex, among them a banana tree in the backyard of the convent.
Sister Mary Cordero, who took care of Sister Chou during her illness, described her as a kind and caring person, who always placed the needs of the other sisters and those of the community first, despite her struggle with her own heath.
A procession following the Mass brought her casket to the playground of the kindergarten whose construction she had supervised, stopping in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary for a moment of prayer.
Former students bade some emotional farewells to the long-serving sister whom many said was like a mother to them.
On October 24, the remains of Sister Chou were flown to Portland in the United States of America, the country in which she had done her novitiate at the beginning of her journey in religious life and the one where she will find her final resting place in the Calvary Cemetery.
Sister Chou was born in a small country village in Shandong province, China, in 1929. Her ancestors include many generations of Catholics in the diocese of Zhoucun.
Her maternal grandfather, Matthias Zong, was one of the many who died for the faith at the time of the Boxer Rebellion around 1900.
At 18-years-of-age, Sister Chou left her home to join a convent in Zhoucun.
Aspiring to religious life, she arrived as a refugee in Hong Kong in 1949 and proceeded to Macau where she became a postulant in the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows.
She travelled to California in 1952 to become a novice and made her final profession in 1956.
Sister Chou completed her high school and university education, receiving a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics in Oregon.
She was then assigned to Hong Kong in 1966 to work in the development of her community’s mission.
She was a teacher and later both principal and supervisor at the kindergarten until her retirement five years ago. All up, she spent 65 years in religious life, with 51 of them in Hong Kong.
From 1982 up until her death, Sister Chou carried various responsibilities within her congregation. She was at times a general council member, provincial superior, local superior and provincial councillor.
After becoming seriously ill in 2014, she stepped down from all her responsibilities and on October 15 a link with the history of Shatin passed away.
May she rest in peace.

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