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Hong Kong’s young people challenged to step out of comfort zones

“World Youth Day is an experience of the Body of Christ,” Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, the auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong, told the over 300 young people gathered for the closing bilingual Mass of Hong Kong’s parallel event for World Youth Day 2019, on the evening of January 26, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Caine Road.
Mini-WYD gathering was held in the afternoon prior to the closing Mass which the bishop concelebrated with Father Dominic Chan Chi-ming, vicar general, Oblate Father Mark Anthony Serna, Blessed Korean Martyrs Father Luke Park, Father Aloysius Mak Ying-kin, Salesian Father Antonio Leung Wai-choi and Comboni Father Rafael Gemelli Vigolo.
It began with candlelight procession around the cathedral in thanksgiving to God for taking care of the Diocese of Hong Kong, and to pray for the city, the diocese and for unity.
The bishop stressed that in order step out and love, we must first experience love. “We are not called to famous, we are called to root ourselves in Christ,” he said, adding, “We have to remember our identity as beloved children of God. We are who we are because of who God is.”
Bishop Ha went on to tell the young people that “to encounter Jesus, is to encounter others. To be in relationship with others, is to step out our comfort zones. Those who are loved do not stay in one place, they go out and share the love of God.”
The young people ended the evening filled with the joy of the Spirit. One English-speaking youth expressed her joy at participating in a proper bilingual Mass in which she felt included, in spite of the language barrier.
The Mass may have been the climax, but there was a festive, final celebration. A concert was held the next evening at the parish hall of St. Margaret’s Church, Happy Valley. 
Local Christian bands, FreeUp Music, MOS St. Francis Band, and SMC Youth Band provided the music, while the Augustine Drama Group performed a segment from one of their plays. 
Bishop Ha participated in the fun, joining in a conga line, winding its way around the hall while everyone sang Shine Jesus Shine. 
He exhorted them, saying, “Mary sang of song of joy and thanksgiving to God, therefore make your own lives a song of praise.” He sent the young people out with Here I Am, Lord, his message to them for another year of the youth, a reminder to live out their faith through action.
Ashley Ho, a coordinator of the Diocesan English Youth, observed that the event brought many young people together noting, however, “occasionally, it is difficult being a native English-speaker. There are language barriers where you wish there were none. We all want to share our personal insights on spirituality, so communication is quite essential.”
However, she noted that the celebration highlighted that young people are appreciative when their needs are recognised and that steps were taken to make this year’s local World Youth Day celebration bilingual. 
“Gathering young people and sharing the spirit is what the occasion is about,” she said.
Indeed, one young man, Paolo, had travelled all the way from the Philippines to take part in the Hong Kong event.
The World Youth Day 2019 parallel celebration began on January 19 with a screening of the film, For the Greater Glory, the story of young St. Jose Luis Sanchez, one of the patron saints of this year’s event, and his martyred companions. 
It officially opened on January 24 with a Eucharistic Adoration and Taizé prayer service at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Wanchai, followed by a spiritual workshop on expressive art lead by Cheryl Chow and Franciscan Brother William Ng on January 25. 

Mika Gallardo