CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 January 2018

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Milestones in religious life

HONG KONG (SE): On the titular feast of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Hong Kong, the diocese paid tribute to 41 priests and religious celebrating their 25th, 50th, 60th and 70th anniversaries of ordination or religious profession.
 
At a late afternoon Mass on December 8, celebrated by Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, together with his auxiliary, Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, and two predecessors in the diocese, John Cardinal Tong Hon and Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, representatives of each anniversary group placed an offering of poinsettias before a shrine honouring the patron of the diocese: Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
 
Diamond jubilarian, Father Pietro Galbiati, from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, spoke of his 60 years of priesthood as being cause to offer gratitude for the fidelity that has been shown to him firstly by God, and also by the many people who have supported him, especially during times of stress and challenge.
 
Like some others among those marking significant milestones in their vocation stories, Father Galbiati is a missionary and has lived most of his priesthood in a foreign land.
 
He described the mission given by God as being to go, to be saved as Abraham, the father of the Chosen People, was and to leave for the land that God will show us.
 
But for the missionary, he described the vocation as to be sent, to go and to announce the good news of the gospel of the Lord.
 
While noting that this is nowhere near as simple as it sounds, he spoke of his struggle learning Chinese and gave a vote of special thanks to all those who have accepted him and helped him through often trying times.
 
“As priests we are weak and need prayer and support so we can perform properly and serve God and God’s people,” Father Galbiati said.
 
However, he stressed that the priesthood and the religious life are not a job. “A job has a time limit,” he noted in expressing something of his frustration at having the reached the compulsory retirement age. “But vocation does not.”
 
He ended his reflection in a plea to pray for vocations to the religious life pointing out that the Lord made a promise to his people, saying, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Ask the master to send labourers…”
 
Golden jubilarian, Sister Teresa Li Sau-chi, from the Sisters of the Precious Blood, said that she believes the closure of her primary school which saw her shift to a Catholic school was all part of God’s plan for her.
 
Baptised in secondary one, she said she received a strong formation in faith, but when she decided to join the convent her parents and family did at first object.
 
However, eventually her father succumbed to her desire, saying that although he did not agree with her decision, he would not stand in her way.
 
Sister Li reflected that to this day she remembers her father’s wonderful example of self-sacrifice, which she added she has no doubt was part of the whole family’s decision to receive baptism.
 
Speaking on behalf of the Central Council of Catholic Laity, Rosa Lai Yuk-fai, thanked the jubilarians for the example of their lives of dedicated service to the people, saying, “Your example of fidelity has helped us to be faithful to our call from God.”
 
At a tea reception prior to the Mass, Bishop Yeung uttered the same sentiment, saying that the fidelity to service and vocation is an inspiration to all.

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