CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Claretian House in Hong Kong

The Claretian Community in Hong Kong saw their dreams come true when, on June 19, Father Mathew Vattamattam, the congregation’s superior general, blessed the community house in Shatin and celebrated Mass with members of the Claretian communities in Hong Kong and Macau, along with friends and associates.
The Claretian Missionaries have a rich mission history in mainland China beginning in the 1920s when the Holy See asked them to take on the administration of the South China Regional Seminary (which later to Hong Kong and was renamed the Holy Spirit Seminary). For various reasons, they could not take up this mission. 
However, from the early 1930s, the missionaries were involved in diverse ministries in China: with Catholic schools, a facility to train locals to care for the sick—known as the School for little doctors, a hospital, social assistance and sacramental ministry. 
But with the rise of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Clarietians were forced to flee with the last batch to leaving China on 1 November 1952. 
Many travelled to Hong Kong and continued with their language studies hoping to return to the missions—a hope which never materialised. The missionaries returned to their own countries while some went to Japan and the Philippines.  
Years later, in 1994, the Claretians returned to East Asia and came to Taiwan with the objective of serving the Church in China again.  But the desire to serve the Chinese Church materialised with a missionary presence in Hong Kong and Macau. 
Since its establishment in Macau in 2006, the Claretian Publications and Pastoral Bible Foundation has made affordable Bible and biblical literature available for Chinese readers. Over 120,000 copies of the Chinese Daily Gospel were distributed in China in 2018. 
A new translation of the New Testament in Chinese has already been published and the Old Testament is nearing completion. 
The Claretians came to Hong Kong in 2007 and spent their initial years learning the Cantonese language at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Later, they began serving in Macau and Hong Kong. 
Pastoral ministry in parishes provided the necessary base for reaching out to the poor and most needy on the Mainland—people affected with Hansen’s Disease (leprosy). During these years of visits and service to those on the peripheries, the greatest treasure the Lord has granted to the missionaries is a committed group of lay associates. 
A lay-movement, called Candle Light, is a charity organisation established in 2016 under the aegis of the Claretians in Hong Kong and Macau, and it takes care of the social welfare projects in China and rest of Asia. 
Many projects are already being handled by the group such as help for those affected by Hansen’s Disease in China, sponsoring the educational needs of over 200 poor children in Nepal, assisting several projects of the Claretians and the Franciscan Sisters of St. Elizabeth in the Philippines, while the formation of Claret Band—a music band is in the pipeline. 
The missionary congregation looks back over the past 12 years of Claretian presence in Hong Kong and Macau, with gratitude to the Lord for his providence and guidance, and they recall the humbling experiences where they were evangelised by the people whom they served.
In blessing the new Claretian House, Father Vattamattam reminded the gathering of their call to be “the light of world and salt of the earth,” noting that their mission takes shape in three ways: “through encounter with the risen Christ, through recognising one another as brothers and sisters and as a consequence, partiality or favouritism of Christ for the poor.” He also requested prayers for the missionaries. 
With gratitude. the Claretians hope that the new house in Hong Kong becomes a great impetus for all the missionary projects of the congregation in Hong Kong and Macau. 

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