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Reminiscing shadows of the passing year

An eventful 2018 is fading into history. Events around the world in the past year have encouraged and disturbed us, have given us reasons to cheer as well as moments to grieve.  Here is an attempt to recall some of the major events that we have covered in the past year, that have affected our lives and the life of the Church in Hong Kong, in Asia and the world at large. 
The beginning of 2018 brought painful moments for Hong Kong as 19 people were killed and over 60 sustained injuries during a fatal bus crash on Tai Po Road on the evening of February 10. The year ended with the tragic news of a school bus rolling down the slope in North Point, killing four people and injuring 11.  According to media reports, some 118 people were killed in road accidents in 2018. 
Refugees remain the biggest human crisis of 2018. According to United Nations, over 68.5 million people around the world are displaced from their homes. To be precise, it would be like the entire population of Hong Kong going homeless. Out of these, 25.4 million are refugees. Over two-thirds of refugees are from five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. Government statistics calculated the number of asylum seekers in Hong Kong at the end of 2017 as standing at around 10,000.  The number does not look like much, but Hong Kong is not immune to the global crisis. 
The scandals of sexual abuse in the Church and the cover ups have rocked the Church in the Americas and in Australia. In spite of explicit ‘zero tolerance’ stand on abuse by Pope Francis, his papacy has been criticised and scrutinized for the alleged cover-ups. Many of these offences were allegedly committed decades ago; their veracity can perhaps be proved only before the court of God.  
The Diocese of Hong Kong had declared 2018 as the Year of the Youth. The Diocesan Youth Commission and the 52 parishes of the diocese had put in greater effort to involve the young people in the life of the Church. Recognising the urgency of accompanying the youth, particularly in the light of the Synod of Bishops on Youth held in October, Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung declared the extension of the Year of Youth to 2019 with the theme, Practice, belief and youth. 
In August, the Catholic and Anglican Churches, together with the Hong Kong Christian Council jointly hosted the Taizé International Pilgrimage of Trust and Reconciliation. During the weeklong gathering, over 2,000 delegates from around the world were guided in prayer, sharing and biblical reflection by Brother Alois, the prior general, along with other brothers from Taizé Community in France. It was a great opportunity for the local young people to interact with international delegates. 
The biggest news of the year for the Church in China at large undoubtedly, was the signing of the provisional agreement between China and Vatican on the appointment of bishops in Mainland China. The September 22 agreement was met with mixed reactions from across the globe. With this historic deal, Pope Francis admitted official bishops, ordained without pontifical mandate, to full ecclesial communion.  
Self-reflection is not only vital to personal life, but it’s also important for life of the community and the Church. Learning to capitalise on strengths and improve on our weaknesses is key in progressing in both your personal and spiritual life. jose