CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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St. Vincent de Paul Society celebrates 155th anniversary

HONG KONG (SE): The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which has the longest history of a charity organisation in the Church in Hong Kong, has a tough mission, which is also a blessing, Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong, said, when he celebrated a Mass to mark the 155th anniversary of the society’s Central Council of Hong Kong and the feast day of its patron, St. Vincent de Paul, on September 27 at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, Caine Road.
During its annual general meeting at the Caritas Community Hall, the society also announced plans for the coming year to extend its services to elderly people living who live alone. 
Father Joseph Agostino, international coordinator of the society, was also present during the celebrations. He was in Hong Kong with a view for the Ninth Pan-Asian Conference, the regional meeting of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which is scheduled for November next year. Over 400 members from Asia and Oceania are expected to gather, exchange views and share experiences on ways to serve the poor and the needy. 
In preparation for the Pan-Asian Conference, the Central Council of Hong Kong set up a task force at the beginning of this year to deal with the preparation work.
During the homily, Bishop Ha said he was impressed by the dedication of the organisation to charity. “Serving the poor is not only a way to get a peace of mind, but also to enjoy the harmony between people while serving others,” the bishop said. 
At the annual general meeting, Garley Wong Ching-wan, the president of the Central Council of Hong Kong, reported on the organisation’s work over the past year. She said the organisation needs to respond to the problems related to an ageing population in addition to carrying on with its existing charity projects. 
She hopes its services can be extended to the elderly living who live alone and have chronic illnesses. 
As for its services for refugees and torture claimants last year, Wong said there were a total of 14 parish conferences under the organisation who paid monthly visits to over 80 families. Wong also reported on various community visits as well as spiritual formation activities.
Father Agostino said the St. Vincent de Paul Society is an important bridge between the poor and the Church as it is on the frontline. He said he could see that members serve the poor with love and, even though there is a lack of resources in some areas, regional councils have tried to solve problems through cooperation so that the poor can be better served.
At present, the Central Council of Hong Kong has 31 parish conferences and a youth conference, with around 600 members. 

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